We are big readers in our house, and we have proudly curated a wonderful collection of books for our girls. Both my husband and I want to be sure that our children are strongly exposed to both Kenyan and American culture, so we have made sure we have plenty of books in our collection about life in Kenya and Africa at large. Here are a few of our favorites!
For You are a Kenyan Child, by Kelly Cunnane and Ana Juan
For You are a Kenyan Child is a lovely story about a Kalenjin boy who lives in a rural Kenyan village. He has been given the job of minding his grandfather’s cattle for the day, but he becomes so distracted by all the goings-on in the village that he loses track of the herd. My eldest daughter loves the part when the boy realizes he’s lost track of his grandfather’s cows, and he imagines all the trouble they may have gotten into. I love when he almost knocks down a beautiful Pokot girl and a plump mama carrying mangoes while trying to get back to the grazing cows. Luckily, his wise grandfather knows just where to find them! The illustrations in this book are truly beautiful, and we just love the story.
Chirchir is Singing, by Kelly Cunnane and Jude Daly
Chirchir is Singing is the story of Chirchir, a young Kalenjin girl who loves to sing, and wants to help her family with all their work. She tries to help her mother bring water from the well, but drops the bucket. She tries to help her grandmother make the tea, but accidentally puts out the fire. She tries to help her sister mud the floor, but sneezes and makes a mess. Slowly, Chirchir stops singing, and her smile turns to a frown. But soon she finds exactly how she can help, and her family realizes just how wonderful her singing is.
Moja Means One, by Muriel Feelings and Tom Feelings
Moja Means One is a simple Kiswahili counting book, and it’s great for even very young children. It not only teaches children how to count to ten in Kiswahili, but it also describes important African cultural practices, like the way mothers carry their babies on their backs in a simple cloth, the oral tradition of storytelling in the rural villages, and different kinds of traditional African clothing. Both of my children are learning Kiswahili from their father, but it’s so nice to have a book that emphasizes their African heritage!
Lila and the Secret of Rain, by David Conway and Jude Daly
This is the story of a young girl in a rural Kenyan village afflicted by drought. The sun beats down on the village, and it is too hot to gather firewood, too hot to weed the garden, and too hot to milk the cow. Young Lila learns from her grandfather the secret of the rain, and she sets out to save her village and bring the rains. She climbs the highest mountain she can find, and begins to tell the sky the saddest things she knew. At last, she laments that without water, there can be no life, and her village is at risk. The sky grows darker, full of Lila’s sadness, and the rain begins to fall. Only Lila and her grandfather know the secret of what brought the rains.
Into the Bush, by Sandra Arensen
Into the Bush is a story is about a young girl named Lilee and her adventures on safari with her family. The tale is vividly told – you can almost hear the sound of the hyenas crunching on bones, or the snap of the crocodile’s jaws in the river below. What I love most about this book are the amazing illustrations. Sandra Arensen does her own artwork using watercolors, and her use of striking lines and vibrant color reminds me of spectacular stained glass windows. My children love the story and the illustrations, and my eldest always talks about her own safari experiences when we read it!
“Into the Bush” isn’t available online, but you can send an email to the publisher at email@example.com, if you are interested in purchasing it. The cost of $10 USD covers the book and shipment in the USA. Please let them know what country you are in, so they can give you the proper pricing!
The Lion and the Mouse, by Jerry Pinkney
Jerry Pinkney illustrated his beautiful adaptation of Aesop’s famous fable about acts of kindness. There are no words in this book – it is up to parents to narrate the story based on the powerful illustrations. We all know the tale: a fierce lion decides to spare the life of a timid field mouse who wakes him from his sleep. Later, the tiny mouse comes to the lion’s rescue, freeing him from a poacher’s net. The moral of the story, of course, is that no good deed goes unrewarded, and that all creatures – great and small – can help one another.
Safari ya Angani, by Francis Atulo
This is a story of the once-beautiful tortoise who wished to fly with the crows into the sky to eat the clouds. One day, the crows carry him up into the sky, as the tortoise sings, “Tunaenda kula mawingu,” (We’re going to eat the clouds!). But the crows lose their grip, and the tortoise falls down to Earth, landing on his back and cracking his beautiful shell. This story is told in simple Kiswahili, and our girls love to sing with the tortoise!
Opulo Aenda Safari by Frank Odoi
The story of a rat named Opulo, who used to have a beautiful, fluffy tail and a nice Maasai blanket to wear on his shoulder. But Opulo is stubborn, and he refuses advice from friends when he sets off on a journey. He winds up walking straight into a thunderstorm, and ultimately loses both his beautiful clothing and his fluffy tail, and learns an important lesson.
Shambani kwa Babu by Hassan Makombo
The story of a young boy named Mumo who goes to the village to visit his grandparents. While helping his grandfather in the garden, he shoots at a bird’s nest with his slingshot, and disturbs a nest of bees. His wise grandfather quickly fans the fire, and uses the smoke to chase away the bees, and Mumo learns an important lesson.
We want our children to see themselves in the books we read, and these tales of life in Kenya definitely give our kids a chance to identify with their Kenyan culture and heritage. Since we live in Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, our girls aren’t always exposed to traditional life in the rural villages. We love the traditional tales spun in these stories!
Do you read your children stories about their native country and culture? What are your favorites?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Tara Wambugu. Follow Tara and her family’s adventures on her blog, Mama Mgeni, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.
Photos for The Lion and the Mouse by Natasha Sweeney, used with permission. All other photos credited to the author.
Where in the world do you live? And, are you from there?
At the moment I live just outside a small rural village in the Alentejo region of Portugal. I say at the moment, because I have moved across the Atlantic from Brazil to Portugal and back again more times than I can count in the last six years. My background is even more complicated. I was born in a small village just outside Munich in Germany to an English mother and German father, meaning that I consider both England and Germany to be my home countries. As an added twist, my maternal grandmother was also born in Munich but emigrated to England just before WWII…I guess I have a multicultural, nomadic bent in my blood.
What language(s) do you speak?
English is the language I work in and speak to my baby boy, my husband is Brazilian so we also speak Portuguese at home – unfortunately, I now only speak German to relatives from my father’s side of the family. That doesn’t leave much space in my brain for the smattering of French and Spanish I learnt at school, which doesn’t stop me from trying whenever I get the chance!
When did you first become a mother (year/age)?
In July 2014 I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy in the city of Vila Velha, Brazil just a few months shy of my thirtieth birthday. We started trying for a baby about a year beforehand because we felt we would be happy to settle in our apartment by the beach for a while. Of course, life had other plans and we ended up moving to Portugal with a 4-month old baby in our hand luggage.
Are you a stay-at-home mom or do you work?
Both. I stay at home with my baby boy and work from home as a freelance translator. I feel very lucky to be able to do this.
Why do you blog/write?
Because I can! Teachers at school and university were always critical about my writing style, which meant I left higher education feeling that I was a complete failure at writing. That changed when I sat the UK translation diploma and chose Literature as one of my specialties. Passing this exam the first time gave me a super boost of confidence. Just perhaps those teachers at school had been wrong about me? I’m still finding out.
What makes you unique as a mother?
Everything and nothing. I’m a bit of an introvert and being a mother has made it much easier for me to connect to other parents – I feel that no matter our background, beliefs or culture we immediately have something in common. On the flip side, parenting can be quite isolating when you feel other people don’t share the same ideas on how to raise children. That’s why the internet can be such a great resource – when you feel like you’re on your own, you’ll always find a mother with a similar outlook blogging from somewhere in the world.
What do you view as the challenges of raising a child in today’s world?
Giving our kids the freedom to grow. Everywhere I look children seem to be limited in some way. Babies are taught to sit still in strollers. Primary school kids can no longer walk to school. School days are getting longer and more test-oriented. Afternoons are filled by a strict regime of activities. While all of these decisions are made in the best interest of the child, I feel it is limiting their ability to grow naturally both physically and mentally,.
How did you find World Moms Blog?
One of those lazy, rainy pre-baby days where you first click on one link, then on another, then another and suddenly find yourself at World Moms Blog!
These interview questions were answered by Julie from Portugal for World Moms Blog.
Daria and her music speak to our mission, here, at World Moms Blog, and she has also supported our #Moms4MDGs campaign. We recently invited her friend, Lisa from The Squishable Baby, to give us the full scoop on Daria’s World Music!
Have you ever been in the car and a song comes on the radio that brings a huge smile to your face? No matter what mood you are in – good, bad or indifferent – you feel totally at peace and happy. And if you could just bottle up that song and play it over and over, you would? Have you met someone who must have a voice from Heaven? Whose beautiful voice advocates peace, tolerance and love. Someone whose voice celebrates the human experience in all its differences?
I am lucky enough to know someone like that. Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou makes children happy through her music that advocates peace, love, and multiculturalism. As a homeschooling family where art and music are at the core of our curriculum, it’s easy to see how Daria makes such an important contribution to this world. You go on her website where there are a myriad of resources for you to teach, enjoy and spend quality time with your children. I can’t think of anything better than someone whose very foundation and message is love. And she does it in a way to educate about others and celebrates everyone’s differences.
We listen to Daria’s CDs in the car all the time. The kids know the songs by heart. They are written in different languages and are about different topics but all of them have the same undertone; to love one another and to celebrate the differences (whether good or bad) that exist in each one of us. This is the message all children should be receiving in a world that screams intolerance.
It’s time to start raising a generation of children that can respect and love the differences in others; no matter the customs, religions, colors, heights, weights, etc. These are the messages in Daria’s songs. Daria has become a part of our lives and our homeschool in a big way. We use her website a lot.
When I am teaching about a subject or an area of the world, we listen to music from that area. We look at art, and then we see what Daria has in store. Daria always has fun crafts, coloring pages and special songs available on her website. It’s there and free for everyone. The items on Daria’s website are so fun and enriching for children … and adults. I learn just as much from Daria as the kids do. The most important thing is that we do everything together. It‘s a way of bringing our family together.
Here are examples of crafts we made from Daria’s website. The kids had fun making and playing a Cajon and a Didgeridoo (instructions given on Daria’s Website) from Peru and Australia, respectively. The instructions were clear and also allowed for some innovation and creativity! Check out all the fun we had making and playing the instruments.
You can see the full review I wrote about Daria here.
Daria empowers children. She makes them want to be better for the world. No other music artist I know will provide children with such fantastic family-friendly upbeat music that they can dance to; and an overreaching positive message of hope and peace, while promoting and providing a well-structured, well-rounded multicultural education in the musical arts unmatched by anything else. I am so proud of Daria and everything that she has done to bring different cultures to children in all parts of the world. I am honored that she calls me a friend. — Lisa
For the last 20 years, Daria has traveled the globe sharing her music of hope, love, multiculturalism and tolerance. In the United States she has won several national awards; including, The National Association for Parenting Publications Award (NAPPA), a Parent’s Choice Award, and a Children’s Web Music Award. Her songs have been used in educational curriculum the world over, including Australia (respecting others), South Africa (teaching on tolerance) and the United States (a special song written to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.).
You can visit Daria on the web: Facebook Twitter Website Pinterest