Have you taken up the #ReadGhanaian challenge? Launched last year by Ghanaian American book blogger and dental student Darkowaa, the challenge involves reading at least five books by authors of Ghanaian descent in 2019. Darkowaa has some awesome recommendations for books in all genres on her blog African Book Addict, including children’s books and YA. You can check out the third part of her three-part series here.
Before discovering Darkowaa’s blog, I had already looked for Ghanaian picture books on a variety of sites. Africa Access is one I would like to highlight. Founded in 1989, this non-profit organisation aims to assist schools, libraries and parents in building children’s book collections on Africa. You can run a search on the site using various criteria. When I keyed in ‘Ghana’ on the review database, it returned 133 results!
Africa Access is also the driving force behind the Children’s Africana Book Awards (CABA). In fact, two of the books I am featuring are winners in the CABA ‘Best Books for Young Children’ category. I won’t keep you in suspense! They are Grandma’s List by Portia Dery, illustrated by Toby Newsome (South Africa), and Gizo-Gizo! Tales from the Zongo Lagoon by Emily Williamson (US) with the students and teachers of the Hassaniyya Quranic School in Cape Coast, Ghana. Both titles are published by Ghanaian publishing houses: African Bureau Stories and Sub-Saharan Publishers.
I will also be featuring the only-just-released Maisie’s Scrapbook by Ghanaian-born author Samuel Narh, illustrated by Jo Loring-Fisher (UK) and published by UK indie publisher Lantana Publishing. I have been following the build-up to this book’s publication on Twitter and was thrilled to receive my pre-ordered copy last week!
In Ghana, other publishing initiatives worth a closer look are Red Oak Books, who specialise in children’s fiction and educational books. Their list includes storybooks that have been translated into Ghanaian languages, such as Asante Twi, Akuapem Twi, Dagbani and Ewe. Step Publishers also offer a broad range of titles, many of them written by Ghanaian poet, novelist and publisher Lawrence Darmani.
Fish & Plankton also caught my eye. Founded by Delali Avemega, who started writing books on the birth of his first child, this new publishing house sells books where readers may not expect to find them – in supermarkets and hairdressers, for example. Watch this CNN video to find out more about Avemega’s ambitious plans for the future.
So, here’s the selection! I think I’m ready to embark on the #ReadGhanaian challenge!
Grandma’s List by Portia Dery, illustrated by Toby Newsome (African Bureau Stories, 2018)
Maisie’s Scrapbook by Samuel Narh, illustrated by Jo-Loring Fisher (Lantana Publishing, 2019)
Gizo-Gizo! A Tale from the Zongo Lagoon by Emily Williamson with the students and teachers of the Hassaniyya Quranic School in Cape Coast, Ghana (Sub-Saharan Publishers, 2016)[Image: IMG_1565 by L & K Bosman. Made available under a creative commons licence. Source: flickr.com]