East Africa Language and Culture Kit Book Synopsis

East Africa/Dinka Language and Culture Kit

14 Cows for America
14 Cows for America. Deedy, Carmen Agra & Naiyomah, Wilson Kimeli. Thomas Gonzalez, Ill. Peachtree Publishers, 2012. ISBN: 9781561454907.
An American diplomat is surrounded by hundreds of Maasai people. A gift is about to be bestowed upon the American men, women, and children, and he is there to accept it. The gift is as unexpected as it is extraordinary. A mere nine months have passed since the September 11 attacks, and hearts are raw. Tears flow freely from American and Maasai as these legendary warriors offer their gift to a grieving people half a world away.


Beatrice’s Dream: Life in an African Slum. Williams, Karen Lynn. Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2011. ISBN: 9781847804181.
Beatrice is a thirteen-year-old orphan in Kibera, Nairobi – a Kenyan shantytown built on refuse and rubbish and one of the biggest slums in Africa. In this book she describes her life: her walk to school, the dust that blows between her teeth and the mud she wades through, her teacher’s down-to-earth encouragement, her fear of being alone, how safe she feels at school.

Bismillah Soup. Hussein, Asmaa. Raquaya’s Bookshelf, 2015. ISBN: 9780994750105.
A spinoff of the classic Stone Soup folktale, Bismaillah Soup is a story about Jasam, a young Somali boy who wants to prepare a feast for his mother. He turns his idea into a larger plan and gathers his community together for a great feast at the local Mosque. His journey is full of unexpected twists that lead him down a path of discovering what community, generosity, and reliance on God truly mean.


Brothers in Hope: The Story of the Lost Boys of the Sudan. Williams, Mary. Christie, R. Gregory, Ill. Lee and Low Books, 2005. ISBN: 9781584302322.
A young boy unites with thousands of other orphaned boys to walk to safety in a refugee camp in another country, after war destroys their villages in southern Sudan. Based on true events.

Chimpanzee Children of Gombe. Goodall, Jane. Neugebauer, Michael, Photographer. Minedition, 2014. ISBN: 9789888240838.
This heartwarming book is filled with photos of many of the chimpanzee babies, toddlers, and young adults that live in the Gombe National Park in Tanzania, where the Jane Goodall research center of is located. Dr. Goodall has campaigned unceasingly for the protection of the chimpanzee, and this moving, personal account will educate readers about the many threats to the animals in the wild and inspire readers of all ages to join in her vital work.


Chirchir Is Singing. Cunnane, Kelly, Daly, Jude. Schwartz & Wade Books, 2011. ISBN: 9780375961984.
Chirchir just wants to make herself useful like all her other family members. But she drops Mama’s water bucket, spills Kogo’s tea, and sends Baba’s potatoes tumbling down the hill. Isn’t there something that Chirchir does best? Set in the rolling hills of rural Kenya, this is a wise and lyrical story about belonging.

Community Soup. Fullerton, Ane. Pajama Books, 2013. ISBN: 9781927485279.
In a garden outside a Kenyan schoolhouse, children are working together to harvest the vegetables they have grown and make them into a soup for everyone to share. But Kioni is having trouble: her mischievous goats have gotten into the garden and are wreaking havoc on the vegetables. Luckily, the resourceful children find a solution that ensures a tasty soup while saving Kioni’s four-legged intruders at the same time.

Duudkii Aadka U Gaajooday. Carle, Eric. Mantra Lingua Ltd., 1992. ISBN: 9781852691288.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar in Somali.


Elizabeti’s School. Stuve-Bodeen, Stephanie. Hale, Christy. Lee & Low Books, 2002. ISBN: 1584300434.
It’s the first day of school and Elizabeti can hardly wait. She puts on her new uniform and feels her shiny shoes. School must surely be a very special place! Shortly after arriving at school, Elizabeti begins to miss her family. What if Mama needs help cleaning the rice? What if her baby sister wants to play? What if her little brother wants to go for a walk? But soon Elizabeti is making friends and learning her lessons.


For You Are a Kenyan Child. Cunnane, Kelly. Juan, Ana, Ill. Atheneum, 2006. ISBN: 9780689861949.
Imagine you live in a small Kenyan village, where the sun rises over tall trees filled with doves. You wake to the sound of a rooster’s crow, instead of an alarm clock and the school bus. Your afternoon snack is a tasty bug plucked from the sky, instead of an apple. And rather than kicking a soccer ball across a field, you kick a homemade ball of rags down a dusty road.

Gorilla Doctors: Saving Endangered Great Apes. Turner, Pamela S. Houghton Mifflin, 2005. ISBN: 9780618445554.
Mountain gorillas are beautiful, playful, curious, and fiercely protective of their families. They are also one of the most endangered species in the world. For many years these magnificent creatures have faced the threat of violent death at the hands of poachers. In order to protect the gorillas, funds are raised through “gorilla tourism” — bringing people into the forest to see gorillas—have helped protect them. This tourism is vital but contact between gorillas and people brought a new threat to the gorillas: human disease. The Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project is a group of scientists working to save the mountain gorilla population in Rwanda and Uganda. The gorilla doctors study the effects of human exposure, provide emergency care, and act as foster parents to an orphaned gorilla.

Growing Peace: A Story of Farming, Music, Religious Harmony. Sobol, Richard. Lee & Low Books, 2016. ISBN: 9781600604508.
This photo-essay is a rare and timely story of hope, economic cooperation, and religious harmony from an often-struggling part of the world. From J.J.’s vision, his community has achieved what many people strive for: a growing peace.

Hope Springs. Walters, Eric. Fernandes, Eugenie, Ill. Tundra Books, 2013. ISBN: 9781770493018.
Faced with a water shortage caused by a drought, young Boniface learns about the desperate things people will do and his attempt to chase away that desperation – where there is water there is life. Based on the development of a real water project in Kikima, Kenya.

In a Cloud of Dust. Fullerton, Alma. Deines, Brian, Ill., Pajama Press, 2016. ISBN: 9781927485620.
In a Tanzanian village school, Anna struggles to keep up. Her walk home takes so long that when she arrives, it is too dark to do her homework. Working through the lunch hour instead, she doesn’t see the truck from the bicycle library pull into the schoolyard. By the time she gets out there, the bikes are all gone. Anna hides her disappointment, happy to help her friends learn to balance and steer. She doesn’t know a compassionate friend will offer her a clever solution―and the chance to raise her own cloud of dust.

Juma and Little Sungura. Burgess, Lisa Maria. Gugu, Abdul M., Ill. Barranca Press, 2013. ISBN: 9781939604064.
Four-year-old Juma finally gets his wish for baby sister. Through this story, readers are introduced to the beautiful country of Tanzania – geography, Swahili words for family members, and the traditions for baby naming.


Lala Salama: A Tanzanian Lullaby. MacLachlan, Patricia. Zunon, Elizabeth. Ill. Candlewick Press, 2011. ISBN: 9780763647476.
The rhythm of the day’s activities creates the melody of the evening’s lullaby in this sweet song of family life along the banks of Lake Tanganyika. As the bright day shifts to twilight, the lantern on Baba’s boat twinkles in the distance, sending the baby off into a peaceful sleep on Mama’s shoulder.


A Long Walk to Water. Park, Linda Sue. Clarion Books. 2010. ISBN: 9780547251271.
A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections; one about a girl in Sudan in 2008, and the second about a boy in Sudan in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the “lost boys” of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship from loneliness and attack by armed rebels, Salva is a survivor, and his story intersects with Nya’s in an astonishing and moving way.

Mangrove Tree: Planting to Feed Families. Trumbore, Cindy (2011). New York, Lee & Low Books, Inc. ISBN: 9781600604591.
For a long time, the people of Hargigo, a village in the tiny African country of Eritrea, were living without enough food for themselves and their animals. The families were hungry, and their goats and sheep were hungry too. Then along came a scientist, Dr. Gordon Sato, who helped change their lives for the better. And it all started with some special trees.

Milet Bilingual Visual Dictionary (English-Somali). Milet Publishing, 2012. ISBN: 978840596953.
Useful, everyday words are grouped into subjects so that children can focus on one set of related words at a time, while games such as word searches, jumbles, and matches help make learning fun. By clicking on a picture, users can hear the word pronounced in two languages – English and Somali.


Mimi’s Village and How Basic Health Care Transformed It. Milway, Katie. Smith, Fernandes, Eugenie, Ill. Kids Can Press, 2012. ISBN: 9781554537228.
In this fictionalized story about a real humanitarian problem facing many countries in the developing world today, readers meet Mimi, an ordinary girl from an ordinary family in Africa. When her younger sister, Nakkissi, gets very sick after drinking unsterilized water from the stream, Mimi learns firsthand how quickly things can go wrong. With no health care provider close by, her whole family must travel on foot to a nearby village to see the one nurse who can provide the medical care her sister needs. Though Mimi is relieved when her sister recovers, she wishes they could get a health clinic in her own village. Several months later, it is Mimi herself who becomes the catalyst to make her wish come true.


Muktar and the Camels. Graber, Janet, Mack, Scott, Ill. Henry Holt, 2009. ISBN: 9780805078343.
Muktar lives in an orphanage on the border of Kenya and Somalia. He daydreams about his old life with his family and especially tending to camels. One day, visitors arrive bearing books, and Muktar’s friend Ismail is excited; so is Muktar, but for a different reason—the visitors are riding camels. Muktar quickly discovers that one of the animals is injured and realizes this is his chance to prove himself. If there is anything Muktar knows, it is camels.


My First Dinka Dictionary: Colour and Learn. Kasahorow. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013. ISBN: 9781484013038.
Learn the Dinka words for over fifty everyday objects illustrated to help make connections to the real world.


My Rows and Piles of Coins. Mollel, Tololwa M. Lewis, E. B., Ill. Clarion Books, 1999. ISBN: 0395751861.
The market is full of wonderful things, but Saruni is saving his precious coins for a red and blue bicycle. How happy he will be when he can help his mother carry heavy loads to market on his very own bicycle, and how disappointed he is to discover that he hasn’t saved nearly enough! Determination and generosity are at the heart of this satisfying tale, set in Tanzania.


The Ogress and the Snake and Other Stories from Somalia. Laird, Elizabeth. Fowles, Shelley, Ill. Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2009. ISBN: 9781845078706.
For millennia, Somalia has been crossed and re-crossed by camel caravans bringing with them stories such as The Good Prince, in which a kindhearted prince conquers the evil magic of a beautiful sorceress, and The Ogress and the Snake, a Somali Hansel and Gretel story about five little girls, abandoned in the desert, who take refuge in the house of a man-eating ogress.

Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangri Maathai. Nivola, Claire A. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008. ISBN: 9780374399184.
Wangari Maathai, winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize and founder of the Green Belt Movement, grew up in the highlands of Kenya, where fig trees cloaked the hills, fish filled the streams, and the people tended their bountiful gardens. But over many years, as more and more land was cleared, Kenya was transformed. When Wangari returned home from college in America, she found the village gardens dry, the people malnourished, and the trees gone.

Qayb Libaax (The Lion’s Share). Ahmed, Said Salah. Dupre, Kelly, Ill. Minnesota Humanities Commission, 2007. ISBN: 9781931016131.
A group of hungry animals work together to kill a big, fat camel, but when the lion in charge asks how to divide the meat, the hyena makes the mistake of suggesting a fair share for all. The furious lion attacks the hyena, and the other animals then give the ruler so much that there is little left for them. “The lion’s share is not fair,” is the message.

Ryan and Jimmy and the Well in Africa That Brought Them Together. Shoveller, Herb. Kids Can Press, 2006. ISBN: 9781553379676.
It costs a lot of money to build a well in Africa — a lot more than Ryan Hreljac had thought. Still, the six year old kept doing chores around his parents’ house, even after he learned it could take him years to earn enough money. Then a friend of the family wrote an article in the local newspaper about Ryan’s wish to build a well to supply people with safe, clean water. Before long, ripples of goodwill began spreading. This became an international news story when people began sending money to help pay him pay for the well.

Through My Eyes. Wilson, Tammy. Kuhn, Jill Dubbeldee, Ill. Beaver’s Pond Press 2016. ISBN: 9781592986989.
After being caught in Somalia’s civil war, Zamzam escapes with her mother, sister, and brothers to America. But when she arrives, she learns that she has to deal with biases and stereotyping she isn’t prepared to handle. Zamzam dreams of making a difference in this world, and she wants to be seen as a person who has value. This is a story of compassion, empathy, and the importance of eliminating stereotypes to promote social justice.


Welcome to Somalia. Schemenauer, Elma. Child’s World, 2008. ISBN: 9781592969760.
Readers are introduced to the basic geography, topography, history, people, culture, climate, and industries of the Somali Republic.

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