For you are a Kenyan Child by Kelly Cunnane is an award winning children’s book with some broad important themes. One of those themes being responsibility.
The child in this story is told to take his grandfather’s cows to the hill to graze and he is to stay there and watch over them. Like many young children he gets distracted by the man in the tea shop, or the black monkeys, or grandmother putting dishes out to dry. He goes exploring through the village and occasionally remembers that he is supposed to be watching the cows.
The book focuses on how this village is in Africa. There is a phrase in the book that is repeated that feels like an excuse almost. “for you are a Kenyan child.” I know it is the title but the way it is used in the text makes it feel like ‘well you can’t help it, this is just part of who you are.’ I think this would be a bad message to send to kids but I do think that the descriptive language that is used really paints the picture beyond the artwork in the book. I think this book could be used to teach responsibility, as well as how other places are different to the United States. This could include how they dress in the pictures or even the jobs that they do, including having to start at a young age.
Here is a digital story that was created based on the book that you could use with your class. It gives more background to living in Africa and putting yourself in the character’s shoes.