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.
World Mom, Maryanne Waweru-Wanyama, and her son.
I began blogging when I was eight months pregnant with my first son, in March 2011. As a 32 year-old who had worked in both, the media and the development fields, for a decade, I considered myself ‘very well-knowledgeable about stuff’ and thought I knew all there was to know about pregnancy and motherhood.
But in those eight months, I had soon discovered that I really didn’t know much. This is because I would always have so many questions about the pregnancy – very simple, but yet, difficult questions that not even the internet could answer. At each gynecologist’s appointment, I would always have tens of questions for my doctor who thankfully was patient enough to answer them all.
But even then, there are questions that the doctor could not answer satisfactorily. I needed to hear from someone who’d gone through what I was going through, and hence, I would find myself asking many mums about their experiences and if what I was going through was normal – you know – the weird cravings, the forgetfulness, the clumsiness, the sleepiness and extreme laziness that I felt. Had they also gone through the same, or was there something wrong with me?
As the pregnancy neared the end, I asked them about their birth experiences, and if they, too, had felt anxious about labor, and how they had dealt with this fear. It always felt better having their support in my journey to motherhood.
Then my son came in April 2011. That was when it really dawned on me that it does indeed take a village to raise a child. Motherhood comes with no manual, and new motherhood can be completely confusing and overwhelming –especially if you don’t have a good support network.
My mum, mother-in-law, sisters, aunts, cousins and friends were on my speed dial as I asked them hundreds of questions a day. Then there was also my paediatrician, too, who thankfully, would also always offer the expert bit.
When I started my blog, Mummy Tales, at home in Kenya, it was about my own motherhood chronicles, but as my readership grew, my inbox would be filled with pregnant women and new mums asking me the same questions that I, myself, had asked when I was in their situation.
And the more my blog grew, the more women wrote in about their experiences with fertility struggles, miscarriages, still births, neonatal sepsis and more. Some I would answer, while others I would get the answers from doctors then share the responses with my readers.
With time, readers began sending me their experiences, asking me to post on my blog for the benefit of fellow women and mums.
This exchange of information enriched me too, and I realized that many women had undergone unfortunate pregnancy and childbirth experiences because they lacked adequate information. I remember one woman who had lost her pregnancy at 25 weeks due to high-blood pressure issues.
“It was only after I saw a story on your blog about a young woman who had died from eclampsia that I came to understand that I had actually been lucky to survive. In my next pregnancy, I paid more attention to everything I was going through, religiously attended all my antenatal clinics and paid attention to my pressure and urine levels during each visit, unlike before. I also became very keen on unusual swelling on my face, hands and feet. This time round, I asked the nurses many questions unlike in my first pregnancy. Even though I still developed pre-eclampsia again, I knew both my baby and I would survive because I was more informed. I was put on medication until the end of my pregnancy, and delivered a healthy baby. Thank God I had become more knowledgeable because of the article I read on your blog,” she told me.
Some of the most common questions I receive on my blog are about the warning signs in pregnancy, foods to eat and avoid during pregnancy, how to prepare for the birth experience and how to generally maintain a healthy pregnancy. I also get lots of questions about breastfeeding, weaning and baby’s nutrition. The answers I give come from my own personal experiences, the experiences of fellow readers, as well as the input of experts.
My blog today is an information hub with real-life practical experiences of motherhood. The ‘tales’ are relatable and as an online community, we are raising our children together, learning together, saving lives of both, mothers and children, and raising healthy babies together. My goal is to ensure that women and babies survive pregnancy and childbirth, and that mothers go on to enjoy the blessing of motherhood, by putting authentic information in their hands.
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by World Mom, Maryanne Waweru-Wanyama of Kenya of Mummy Tales.
Photo credit to the author and World Moms Blog.
About three weeks ago, I logged onto my WordPress dashboard and noticed that I had a massive spike in my page views, all linking to one post that I written about a year ago in a fit of anger. Further research lead me to realize that a German blogging news group had linked back to my post about the time I discovered someone was stealing photographs of my son on Instagram. In an instant, my small blog was exposed to thousands of people I had never met, and the thought scared me.
It scared me because now thousands of people I had never met now knew what my son looked like. What his name was. Where we lived.
When I started my blog on Blogger.com, it was to chronicle our adventures living in a hotel for 100 days while we patiently waited for our visas to be approved so we could finally leave the US for Paris. My followers consisted of my mom, my mother-in-law, and probably five co-workers from my old job. I never watermarked my photos and I shared stories about our adventures. I also shared stories about my son, sweet things he said or did, annoying behaviors he exhibited as he struggled through a rough international transition. Those stories were naively shared with the best of intentions; the idea that people are inherently good, and that no-one would probably read my blog.
Without the ability to work once we arrived in Paris, I poured myself into developing my blog. With each post, I became more and more eager to grow my readership, finding instant validation when someone would comment on a funny story I had published or when my mom would say, “I loved that post you wrote.” In addition to posting nearly every day, I attended a major blogging conference, got a Twitter account, a Facebook page, an Instagram account, and so on, and so on. As my little blog modestly grew, I met more and more amazing people. Blogging became my everything, and provided me with the ability to connect with people while living thousands of miles from the only life I had ever known.
Right around the same time that my blog post on “Instagram Trolls” was linked, I read a few articles on how people view “mommy” bloggers. I began to think more about the criticisms of sharing your life with strangers, what should be kept public versus private. What truly hit home for me wasn’t the downside of sharing my life or how it might affect MY career, but rather how it will affect my husband and son’s lives. I have less to fear about what I write because I willing put those thoughts and ideas out into the world. However, the stories that I share about my family aren’t all mine…. they belong to my family, to my husband (who is a consenting adult and can provide his opinion) and to my son.
At nearly four years old, he doesn’t have the comprehension to willingly agree to posts that I write about him.
I used to think that just because my blog wasn’t mainstream, it didn’t matter what I posted because only my family and friends would see it. That belief was extremely naive of me, and I am aware of that. I’ve spent the last few weeks thinking about the direction my own blog will take in the future.
It has opened up a Pandora’s box of the ethics of blogging… raising questions that I just don’t have a solid answer for. Things like “Should bloggers earn money by showcasing their children in sponsored ads?” “Should mom bloggers share naked photos of their children?” “Do the children of bloggers have a right to privacy?” “Does it matter if your blog is small or mainstream?”
These questions and countless more have caused me to put the red light on my personal blog. I’m not sure whether I will continue my own blog the way I have in the past, take it in a new direction, or delete it.
Mom readers and contributors of World Moms Blog, I value your opinions greatly. What are your thoughts about the ethics of blogging, especially when it comes to our children?
This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Jacki. You can check out her experiences as an expat in Paris at her blog, HJ Underway.