Edward Tingatinga Books

Reading these books to your children is a great way to teach them about African countries and the culture that is so beautifully represented in Edward Tingatinga’s works. On this list, you will find books that explore the diversity of all 54 African countries and books that narrow their stories to focus on Tanzania. Many of the books provide an introduction to the Swahili language, too. Whatever you’d like to learn, there’s a book here for you!

Amazing Africa: Country by Country Atinuke

Learn about all 54 of Africa’s countries in this delightful book! Cultural history, animals, geography, and people are all included. The vibrant illustrations go beyond stereotypical African illustrations to depict the authentic people and features of the continent. Colorful maps are also included to help children connect the information they’re learning with a specific location. This resource provides a ton of information! Use it for upper elementary and middle school kids who are wanting to learn more about Africa and its countries.

T is for Tanzania! An Alphabet Book Cindy Similien

Award-winning author Cindy Similien puts a unique spin on the traditional alphabet book and brings us a version based on the sights and sounds of Tanzania. A is for Arusha, C is for Chapati, N is for the Ngorongoro Crater, and S is for Serengeti National Park. This information provides a great springboard for learning more about Tingatinga’s home country. Preschoolers will enjoy the ABCs in this book!

Why Leopard Has Spots Tinga Tinga Tales

Leopard was once a shy, sad cat without spots. Then she met Puff Adder and he sang her a lullaby. This book follows animated characters from the “Tinga Tinga Tales” children’s television show. It’s a creative book that utilizes Tingatinga style and colors and is even named after him! Early readers will be able to read this book with a parent’s help. Younger kids will enjoy the bright illustrations and the unique story.

Juma Cooks Chapati Lisa Maria Burgess

Set in the Tanzanian city of Dar es Salaam, this story follows Juma and his sister, Sareeya, as they sneak into their garden to make chapati. Readers will learn all about this unique flatbread and see what life is like for children in Tanzania. There’s also a chapati recipe, supplemental maps, and a ki-Swahili language glossary. This story provides a lighthearted introduction to Tanzania food and culture. It’s best suited to early elementary kids.

Jambo Means Hello: Swahili Alphabet Book Muriel Feelings

This popular Swahili book has been around for nearly 30 years! It features beautiful hand-drawn illustrations alongside the ABCs. Each letter has a Swahili word and a description of what that word really means in the culture. It’s a simple book and it provides a gentle introduction to the language. Punctuation guides are included.

The Water Hole Graeme Base

The watering hole is getting busy. Animals keep coming—count them all. But with the magic of the book’s die-cut ovals, the watering hole appears to be getting smaller! Each page and its illustrations highlight a different area and the creatures there. There’s Mount Rushmore, the Great Wall of China, the African savannah, and others. Looking closely at the illustrations will reveal even more animals.

National Geographic Kids: The Ultimate Book of African Animals Dereck and Beverly Joubert

Explore dozens of animals that live in Africa! Cheetahs, lions, elephants, and so many more are featured. Learn what they eat, what they do, and how we can protect them. Each page features beautiful photographs from National Geographic. This book is packed with facts and is best suited for older learners like students in upper elementary grades.

We All Went on Safari: A Counting Journey through Tanzania Laurie Krebs

Join with the Maasai friends in this book and take a counting journey through Tanzania. You will see leopards, ostriches, giraffes, and many other animals! The book also features a description of the Maasai people, Swahili names, and a few brief facts about the country. It provides a great introductory look into African culture. The counting and rhymes are simple, making this book ideal for preschoolers.

Juma on Safari Lisa Maria Burgess

Join Juma and his sister once again as they go on an adventure in Tanzania. This time, they will be traveling across the country to visit their grandmother. They will see Mt. Kilimanjaro and lots of African animals. Like the first book, this one also includes a map and a glossary of the ki-Swahili words that are used in the story. It’s another informative picture book for early elementary kids.

Imani’s Moon JaNay Brown-Wood

The story of Imani is sure to inspire your children to chase their dreams! Imani is the smallest girl in her village and the other kids won’t let her forget it. Her mother boosts her confidence by telling her folk tales from the Maasai people. Imani especially likes the tale of the fearless moon goddess. One night, an ancient warrior dance makes her feel invincible! The watercolor illustrations add to the movement and emotion of the story. It’s a great read-aloud for elementary children.

Why Elephant Has a Trunk Tinga Tinga Tales

Another easy-reader with artwork inspired by Tingatinga. In this adventure, we learn about a time when Elephant didn’t have a nose. He was just big and clumsy and smelly. That is until his friends pull, and pull, and out pops his trunk! It’s a fun book that gives a creative answer to the question: why do elephants have trunks? Second graders can read this book independently and younger ones will love the story.

Over in the Grasslands: On an African Savanna Marianne Berkes

This counting book has an extra feature: the words can also be sung to the tune of “Over in the Meadow.” There are elephants, zebras, lions, rhinos, and several other favorites—some are even hidden! The back pages include information about each animal, a detailed description of life on the savanna, and tips from the author. It’s a unique learn-to-count book for preschoolers.

Flip Flop Drip Drop Coni Knepper

With a little imagination, simple things can become the most exciting things! The young African boy in this book thinks his day is going to be boring, but a monkey and a mouse encourage his creativity. Sticks, oil cans, and flip-flops come to life. Toddlers and preschoolers will love to see what this little boy comes up with next.

When Trees Walked Nishant Tharani

This story from Tanzania folklore tells of a time long, long ago when trees walked the earth. Eventually, those trees came to stand in one place. Along with the mythical story, this book has a slight focus on environmental awareness. The words are printed in both English and Swahili. Read it alongside your early elementary children.

Lala Salama: A Tanzania Lullaby Patricia MacLachlan

The refrain “lala salama” (sleep well) repeats like a lullaby in this beautifully written and illustrated book. Throughout the book, a sleepy child will look back on everything he has done throughout the day—watching his father clean out their wooden boat, riding on his mother’s back as she filled the water jug, seeing the animals off in the distance. The language is soothing and dreamy, making this the perfect bedtime book for kids 4 to 8 years old.

African Folk Tales Hugh Vernon-Jackson

This collection of 18 authentic fables is a great read for upper elementary kids. Each story is exciting as well as entertaining. Read “The Man with Seven Dogs,” “The Magic Crocodile,” and several other clever stories. The illustrations are simple line drawings and the stories are a little heavy, so this book is best for independent readers.

Amazing Africa Projects You Can Build Yourself Carla Mooney

With this incredible book, kids can learn about the continent of Africa and jump into hands-on projects to reinforce what they’ve learned. Each chapter details projects like making rainforest vines, designing masks, and cooking authentic African food. It also includes a timeline of African history, dozens of vocabulary words, and a thorough description of various African people and places. This book is an excellent choice for parents who are wanting to learn side-by-side with their pre-teens.

newsletter icon Never miss a beat. Subscribe
to our
* indicates required