Sampling Swahili

The seven principles of Kwanzaa each have names in Swahili (and the name of the holiday comes from that language, too).  According to The Story of Kwanzaa, Dr. Maulana Karenga used words from this language because it is spoken in several different African countries.

Here are a few picture books that introduce words in Swahili (or Kiswahili, which is how Swahili people indicate that they mean the language Swahili):

Count your way through Africa
Count Your Way Through Africa
by James Haskins
Uses the Swahili words for the numbers from one to ten to introduce the land, history, and culture of Africa.

For You Are a Kenyan Child
For You Are a Kenyan Child
by Kelly Cunnane
From rooster crow to bedtime, a Kenyan boy plays and visits neighbors all through his village, even though he is supposed to be watching his grandfather’s cows.

Jambo Means Hello
Jambo Means Hello
by Muriel L. Feelings
Presents a word, with English translation, for each of the twenty-four letters in the Swahili alphabet.  The explanation of each word introduces an East African custom.

Moja Means One by Muriel L. Feelings
The numbers one through ten in Swahili accompany two-page illustrations of various aspects of East African life.

Song Bird
Song Bird
by Tololwa M. Mollel
A magical bird helps a kind young girl get back her people’s stolen cattle from Makucha the monster.

We All Went on Safari
We All Went on Safari: A Counting Journey Through Tanzania
by Laurie Krebs
Join Arusha, Mosi, Tumpe and their Maasai friends as they journey through the grasslands of Tanzania, counting the animals in English and Swahili.

What is your language
What is Your Language?
by Debra Leventhal
A child travels around the world, learning the how to say “yes” and “no” in different languages.

-Miss Sarah

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