Workshop: Books in Africa
Introduce students to life at rural libraries in Sub-Saharan Africa and the types of books
that might be appropriate for children there. This workshop gives students the
opportunity to use what they learn to illustrate and publish an African folktale.
Target age group: Students grades 4th through 8th or any group of kids!
Preparing for the Workshop
Find an African folktale you would like kids to illustrate and publish (More info on
finding a story in FAQs below). Propose the idea to a school or local kids in your
neighborhood. Plan on a day for the workshop and block out around one hour and thirty
minutes. Below is a description on how a workshop might work. Feel free to elaborate
or combine this activity with an African Party, fundraising event, or whatever you think
might enhance the day. You can read about a successful workshop that FAVL
representatives hosted on the FAVL blog here:
How a Books in Africa Workshop Works
1. Slideshow: The workshop should kick off with a presentation, about 20 minutes
long, about Friends of African Village Libraries, village libraries and life in a
rural village in Sub-Saharan Africa. The presentation will feature photos of
village life and a village library, including photos of village children and their
everyday activities. It always makes things more interesting to continuously ask
the children questions about the photos, “What do you notice about the photo?”
Try to get students as involved as possible. When you flip through the photos of
the village libraries, get students to identify the differences between their
experiences at a library and the experiences one might have at a village library.
There is a slideshow for your use in the Materials section below.
2. What books are appropriate and why? After the presentation, pass around
children’s books that you might have at home. You should bring books that
would not be of relevance to a rural village library in Africa, for example books
that include stories about snow, etc. Ask the children to look at the books and
think about why the books might not be fit for a village library. Start a brief
3. The Young Boy was Running The next activity is to pass around handouts of an
illustrated story that would be fit in a village library. FAVL has an example story
print out that can be used. Have students read the story individually and as a class
discuss why this particular story might be more popular in a village library than
the books passed around earlier.
4. Read African story and assign page numbers: Once the discussion is complete,
explain to the students that they will be given the opportunity to illustrate an
African story that will be published. Tell the students to use what they have
learned and the story print out as guidelines to illustrating the story. The story
needs to be broken up by page number, and an example story is provided in the
toolkit. You will need to find an African story that the children will illustrate. The
story should be read out loud with each student assigned to a line. The line that is
read by the student will be the page that they are to illustrate. Make sure students
remember their number!
5. Illustrate: Once the story is read aloud, pass out white drawing paper. Before
drawing is started, each student should write his or her name and the page number
on the back of the sheet. In addition to the print out of the example story, print
outs of drawings from village libraries can be handed out to provide students
more guidance on how to draw an appropriate drawing that matches the setting
the story is to take place.
Materials Provided by Friends of African Village Libraries in the workshop toolkit:
• FAVL “Books in Africa” Slideshow
o Download here: http://www.slideshare.net/favlafrica/books-in-africa-
• An example story suitable for an African library – The Young Boy Was Running
o Download here: http://www.slideshare.net/favlafrica/the-young-boy-was-
• African folktale example and layout for page assignments– The White Rabbit
o Download here: http://www.slideshare.net/favlafrica/the-white-
• Books not suitable for an African library
• Paper and crayons (amount depending on workshop size)
• Printouts of example African story
• Printouts of African folktale that the students will be illustrating, broken up by
After the Workshop
After the workshop is complete, scan each photo drawn by the children. Make sure to
designate each photo by page number. Send a list of the story text as well as a list of the
illustrators by name and page to FAVL. In addition, send FAVL the pictures in jpg
format. FAVL will upload the book onto a web-based publishing service called
FastPencil. You can purchase the book created in your workshop on the FAVL
marketplace on FastPencil after FAVL is finished uploading the book. You can either
sell this book or give to family and friends. For every ten books purchased, one copy
will be donated to a FAVL managed village library!
Email photos and text to email@example.com
FAVL/FastPencil marketplace: http://www.fastpencil.com/users/favlafrica
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: Do you have any examples of children’s books that might be “relevant” for a village
library in Africa?
A: Here are two lists of books:
2. Juvenile (Grade 5th through 8th)
Q: Where can I find an African story?
A: A simple Google search of “African folktales” will provide some quick suggestions of
stories. Also, you can visit your local library. If you find yourself stumped or are wary
about your choice, email a FAVL representative at firstname.lastname@example.org