Before we look at the books about Liberia, let’s learn more Liberia. Liberia has such a fascinating history. I first was able to learn about this country from 3 lovely ESL students I had. They explained that Liberia was founded in 1822 as a settlement of freed slaves in West Africa, by the American Colonization Society! The name “Liberia” comes from the word “liberty,” which means freedom.
The first ship carried freed slaves to Liberia in 1820, and they became the upper class in Liberia, with the native Africans being pushed into the lower, working class. In 1980s there was a military coup that killed the president. This began a civil war between the elite and the lower class that lasted almost 20 years. Finally, they drove the rulers out of the country and had a free election in 2005. They elected a woman president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who eventually shared the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize as a champion of women’s rights.
I searched high and low for these books about Liberia! While some are folktales, some are just stories about the culture and the kids who live there. I hope you enjoy! Remember, when you are teaching kids about another country, don’t overgeneralize and call it “Africa-” learn about the specific country, find Liberia on a map, introduce bits of the history, and then tell the kids you are going to read some books about Liberia.
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Books about Liberia
Mrs. Chicken and the Hungry Crocodile, a Liberian folktale by Won-Ldy Paye (Liberian author-of the Dan people in northeastern Liberia) and Margaret H. Lippert. Kids like this book because it is silly and fun! First the crocodile is the trickster, but then the chicken outwits the crocodile.
Head, Body, Legs: A Story from Liberia by Won-Ldy Paye (Liberian author, of the Dan people) and Margaret Lippert. In this fun story, all the parts of the body learn to work together in a hilarious creation story from the Dan people of Africa.
Koi and the Kola Nuts: A Tale from Liberia by Verna Aardema. A young man inherits a bag of kola nuts, shares them with a crocodile, a snake and an ant. The animals then help him to accomplish tasks on a journey, that ends when he happily marries. The end line shares the moral of the story: “do good and good will come back to you- in full measure and overflowing.”
I love Liberia, by Wayetu Moore. (Liberian author!) I love that this author wanted to teach his children and grandchildren about his culture, with important ideas from foods, geography, and history from Liberia in an ABC style. This would be a great book to have in your library.
Uncle Jallah Will Fix It, by Augustus Y. Voahn.(Liberian author!) I love finding books that are set in a particular country, and the culture aspect is in the background. We see culture in the clothes the characters wear, in the housing we see, in the landscape, in the food. This is such a book. The story is simple, a little girl wants her uncle to fix a dress that is worn, that had been made from a favorite blanket that was worn. Sweet story that takes place in Liberia.
Mommi Watta: Spirit of the River, by Virginia Castleman. This is a retelling of a folktale from the Kpelle people, the largest ethnic group in Liberia. Sometimes it can be uncomfortable for little children, because the spirit is threatening to the little girl. We learn that not everyone can afford school in Liberia, and that girls miss out on school sometimes to bear the brunt of the housework and childcare.
I hope that you enjoyed these books about Liberia! If you’d like to learn more about Liberia, click on this picture for facts, history, geography and more: