Africa is the second largest continent. It comprises more than fifty countries, some of which, such as the Seychelles and Madagascar, are islands. Africa is rich in diversity among its cultures, peoples, languages, and environments. The landscape of the continent varies widely from the dry desert in the North to the rainforests in West and Central Africa, to the green valleys and mountains of South Africa. The continent is surrounded by oceans and seas, and the longest river on earth, the Nile River, runs through it. North to south, Africa is divided in half by the equator, giving hot and sunny weather all year in many countries.
Africa is a continent with a very long history of civilization and many contrasts in cultures, customs, arts, and economic status. Languages too, vary from country to country, region to region, and in some instances, village to village. In countries with British heritage, English is widely spoken as well as the local languages. Schooling often involves students beginning to read and write their home language as well as learning other world languages such as English, French, Arabic, and Portuguese.
The books chosen for Africa in the Micro-Library represent a very small part of the enormous complexities of African history, landscape, culture, economy, and social being of its peoples.
When young readers think of Africa, the first thing likely to come to their minds is exotic wildlife. The animals of some regions are certainly a vibrant factor in considering the continent, and we wanted to honour that with the choice of African Acrostics. To extend readers’ familiarity with the oral tradition, African Tales: A Barefoot Collection offers a sampling from across the continent, along with an introduction to each country. For older readers, Long Walk to Water offers a realistic story of triumph over hardship. Two other titles remind us that friendship and a willingness to help others are universal. Ryan and Jimmy and the Well in Africa that Brought Them Together and Gift Days show readers how these traits connect global citizens.
All choices were made to help young Canadian readers begin to explore and appreciate the richness of the second largest continent.