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Book Lists


South Africa - Context on a Continent suggested list of both fiction and non-fiction books shares stories about the country of South Africa and its people. 

Sustainable Change through Service Learning & Partnerships reading list introduces students to community engagement, service learning, and partnerships for change. 

South Africa - Context of a Continent


Elizabeti's School by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen                                                                                              

A young girl starts school in Tanzania.

Elsina's Clouds by Jeanette Winter                                                                                                        

A Basotho girl paints designs on her house as a prayer for rain.


Galimoto by Karen Lynn Williams; illustrated by Catherine Stock 

A village boy from Malawi makes a special toy from found things.


Gift of the Sun. A Tale from South Africa by Diane Stewart  

A boy sells his cow and makes exchanges that result in prosperity.


Goal! by Mina Javaherbin 

In a dangerous South African township, a group of young soccer players unites against bullies.


My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me by Maya Angelou; photographs by Margaret Courtney-Clarke 

An eight-year old girl tells about the traditional art work of the Ndebele people of South Africa.


One Child, One Seed. A South African Counting Book by Kathryn Cave  

A young girl who lives in Nkandla helps her family grow pumpkins. A recipe is included.


The Day Gogo Went to Vote: South Africa, April 1994 by Elinor Sisulu; illustrated by Sharon Wilson A great-grandmother casts her ballot when black South Africans are allowed to vote for the first time.


Where’s Jamela? by Niki Daly (series)

Jamela’s mother gets a new house and a new job, but Jamela doesn’t like change.


Where Are You Going, Manyoni? By Catherine Stock 

A girl in Zimbabwe encounters animals on her way to school.




Chain of Fire by Beverly Nadir                                                                                                                       

A brother and sister forced to resettle in a barren “homeland” resist and learn about the brutality of the South African government.


Chanda’s Secrets by Allan Stratton                                                                                                                   

A sixteen-year-old in a small South African town faces shame as she struggles to help friends and family members dying of AIDS.


Journey to Jo'burg. A South African Story  by Beverly Naidoo 

Separated from their mother by harsh economic conditions, a brother and sister travel a long distance to find her.


Out of Bounds. Seven Stories of Conflict and Hope by Beverly Naidoo  

Covering from 1948 to 2000, seven stories chronicle the experiences of young people from different races and ethnic groups under apartheid.




Born a Crime. Stories from a South African Childhood  by Trevor Noah                                           

Memoir by the “Daily Show” host. (Adapted for Young Readers)

Mama Africa! How Miriam Makeba Spread Hope with Her Song by Kathryn Erskine; illustrations by Charly Palmer                                                                                                                                         

Picture biography of the famed Xhosa singer and activist.


Biographies of the Nobel-Prize winner who helped dismantle apartheid and introduce democracy in South Africa

Picture Biographies

Grandad Mandela by Zindzi Mandela; illustrated by Sean Qualls

Mandela: From the Life of the South African Statesman by Floyd Cooper


Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson

Peaceful Protest: The Life of Nelson Mandela by Yona Zeldis McDonough

Chapter Books


National Geographic Readers: Nelson Mandela by Barbara Kramer

Who Was Nelson Mandela? by Meg Belviso


Nelson Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson B. Mandela





Ashanti to Zulu. African Traditions by Margaret Musgrove                                                           

Explains some customs and traditions for 26 tribes.

Not-For-Parents Africa. Everything You Ever Wanted to Know  by Clive Gifford                              

Broad introduction to the continent. (Lonely Planet Kids)


South Africa by Mary N. Oluonye                                                                                                              

An introduction to the landscape, culture, and people of South Africa


South Africa by Sheelah Matthews                                                                                                     

Describes South Africa including landscape, flora, fauna, natural resources, peoples, culture, politics, sports, and government.  


The Struggle Against Apartheid by Patience Coster                                                                          

Discusses events in South Africa that led up to and followed the end of apartheid.

Sustainable Change through
Service Learning & Partnerships 

Beatrice's Goat by Page McBrier; illustrated by Lori Lohstoeter 

An international project gives a goat to a girl, allowing her to sell milk and pay for school books.


Can we help? Kids Volunteering to Help Their Communities by George Ancona                       

Describes the many ways that kids can help others from tending community gardens to mentoring to training service dogs.

14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy; illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez 

Maasai people make a gift to America as a gesture of comfort after 9/11.


The Student Companion to Community-Engaged Learning. What You Need to Know for Transformative Learning and Real Social Change by David M. Donahue and Star Plaxton-Moore    

A guide to service learning.

One Hen. How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway  

 A boy from Ghana learns to raise hens after his father dies and later turns a small loan into a thriving farm.

31 Ways to Change the World: We Are What We Do by Tanis Taylor                                                      

A collection of 31 ways to make change, contributed by 4,000 children.

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