Nana Akua Goes to School

  • Title: Nana Akua Goes to School
  • Author: Tricia Elam Walker
  • Illustrator: April Harrison
  • Publisher: Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House
  • Publication year: 2020
  • Brief Summary: From the publisher: “In this moving story that celebrates cultural diversity, a shy girl brings her West African grandmother–whose face bears traditional tribal markings–to meet her classmates.” From Random House Children’s Books.
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – As this book literally takes place in and around a classroom event, i.e. Grandparent’s Day, it would be ideal to bring up before or during a similar event. Is there a multicultural day? This book could also be useful for an event such as that. Regardless, this book could also be used to teach children that people who have different beliefs and traditions may not look like, or dress like you, but you are united by the fact that we are all human. The touching end of this book, where Nana Akua face paints all the children in the class with the traditional Adinkra symbols, reminds us that we can all celebrate each other’s differences with joy, an act that would be beneficial to instill in growing minds.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it. – The illustrations in this book are rich in a multitude of colors and textures. Many of the illustrations feature multiple patterns, textures, and bright colors all in one image. I can’t help but compare the illustrations to that of a quilt, which I think is intentional on the part of Harrison. The quilt that Nana Akua made for Zura, which features the symbolism of the Akan people, is an essential component of the story. When there are more words present on the page, there is generally only one illustration, which I found interesting. When Nana Akua arrives in Zura’s classroom, there is a beautiful two page spread, with Nana Akua as the reader’s focal point, indeed even drawing the audience in the book, to her in an astounding kaba and matching skirt and head wrap.

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