Tag Archives: africa


Eric Walters is the author of over 100 books. His work includes picture books, early read novels and novels for teens and young adults. Many of these books are ‘everybody’ books and are often realistic fiction based on true stories. He was instrumental in building an orphanage in Kenya, which I was able to visit once. Many of his books reflect the true adventures of some 80 children who live here and are now able to attend school. Here are some of his titles that should be in all international classrooms:

My Name Is Blessing, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes (ISBN 978-1-77049-301-8) This is a beautifully told tale, based on a true story, which takes the reader to the home of a wise, Kenyan grandmother who cares for many children as best as she can. The last pages of the book offer nonfiction information about the real boy whose name was changed to Blessing and whose future was changed by an orphanage. 

Hope Springs, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes (ISBN-13 : 978-1770495302)This story shows the struggle, in Africa, to get water. The children at the orphanage have to walk daily to the public well to collect and carry back jugs of water. They stand in long line-ups but, one day, are no longer welcome. Is it fear that there will not be enough for the community if they let the orphans use their well? When the building of the orphanage’s own well is completed, Boniface has an idea to help the villagers. A lovely story of kindness, it shows that, through compassion and understanding, true generosity can spring from unexpected places. This book is perfect if your school takes part in an annual Walk For Water project.

Light A Candle, co-authored with Godfrey Nkongolo and illustrated by Eva Campbell (ISBN 978-1-4598-1700-5) is the story of the birth of the nation of Tanzania. It was the wish of President Nyerere to light a flame atop Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest point in Africa, to show the world hope for the future. Eric Walters climbed Kilimanjaro. The book is published in English and Swahili and gives background information in addition to a touching story of a young Chagga boy.

The Wild Beast, illustrated by Sue Todd (ISBN 978-1-4598-1589-6) reads like a myth, a legend, an old folktale. Africa’s wildebeest looks like it was created from spare parts. Eric Walters ran with this idea. Beautifully told, in words and vibrant images, this is the story of how the creator made sky and earth, then birds, fishes and mammals. Heeding her own message not to waste anything, she then creates the wildebeest. A delightful tale when studying myths and legends. Also look for The Matatu: based on folk tales, it tells a humorous story of the famous African busses full of people and animals.

Today Is The Day, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes (ISBN 978-1-77049-648-4). Until reading this picture book, I had not realized that an orphan may not know his birth date. And if you don’t have one, you can’t apply for a passport or other important papers. Today Is The Day is based on the true experience Walters had when he gave the children a birth date as well as a gigantic party! A great book as basis for classroom discussions.

Hockey Night in Kenya, co-authored with Danson Mutinda (ISBN 978-1459823617) is a brand new release – a chapter book for beginning readers. It tells the story of orphans in Kenya who learn about a thing called ice hockey. They have never seen ice but read a Canadian magazine with pictures of a hockey team. Through hard work, kind friends and good luck, dreams can come true and even an orphan can end up having roller blades and a hockey stick.

Just Deserts by Eric Walters (ISBN 978-0143179351). A middle grade-and-up novel that will appeal especially to boys, Just Deserts is the story of a spoiled, wealthy boy who gets expelled from boarding school. In typical Eric Walters fashion, this page turner is full of adventure and suspense, when Ethan is dropped in the middle of the Sahara and left to his own devices. 

Walking Home (978-0385681575), this novel made me cry at the end! It is a touching, interesting, heart warming and well written story. This is the story of a brother and sister, orphaned in a troubled, violent time in Kenya. They decide to walk to the region where their mother grew up, in hopes of finding relatives who will take them in. Rather than be separated by government officials who will place them in different homes, they walk over 200 KM, through Nairobi, through villages and deserted stretches. Not only did the author make this trek himself, he also built an orphanage and supports it financially with the help of many schools in Canada. The story takes the reader right along on this amazing walk, introduces us to Kenyan customs and beliefs and shows the landscape and fabric of African life. it is backed up by a website full of resources including videos and ways to connect: https://ericwalterswalkinghome.com/

And finally,  From The Heart of Africa  (ISBN 978-1-77049-719-1). “It takes a village to raise a child” is likely one of the best known wisdoms from Africa. The author collected many sayings that traditionally share wisdom passed from one generation to the next. Beautifully illustrated these aphorisms form a book for both children and adults and will make great discussion points for any classroom.

Check out: http://www.ericwalters.net/

For information on the orphanage, click here: https://creationofhope.com/



I hated learning piano. I hated learning French. I loved learning to ride a bike. Billy Kopecky held onto the seat of my Huffy Thunder Road at the top of a hill and let go. I turned the wheel, went over the handle bars and wiped out. This was before the helmet days. It hurt, I got bloody. He said, “that was cool, let’s do it again.” Three years after I took my last piano lesson, I picked up a piece of “Fleetwood Mac” sheet music and taught myself to play some of my favorite tunes. Yes, I needed to know the notes but I didn’t need five years of Chopin and Mozart, which killed my desire to tickle another ivory. I played for love. I learned some of the things I needed to know for French in high school (drmrsvandertramp comes to mind), but actually learned it when I lived in a French speaking African village for three years. Of course we learn by experience. It’s the oldest educational principle on earth.

But there’s this leapfrogging thing that has caught my attention. It applies mainly to technology but I think it could apply to other things too, like language, bike riding and piano. Africa is not going through the various stages of technology development because it doesn’t have the time or the resources to do so. It’s jumping right into cell phones without landlines, fiber optic without DSL (lucky them) and numerous other innovations that they are, yes, ‘leapfrogging.’ How does this apply to education?

I was sitting at a table last week with my librarian and a teacher. We were developing a curriculum for digital literacy. The conversation became a bit strained when the topic of ‘skills’ came about and what students should be taught to do first. I couldn’t help but think of Chopin when I really wanted to play Fleetwood Mac. To cut the tension, I said that we should play to one another’s strengths and we could flip flop classes, I would help their students with expression and portfolio development and they with the more technical aspects of online research and skill. I didn’t tell them this, but I am planning to do very little with the technical side and get the students to focus on their own sense of creativity, expression, and focus. Leapfrogging. They aren’t going to learn a host of Google Apps BEFORE they can be part of a Google hangout. We’re just going to do it.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking. You’re going to fly over the handle bars and get all bloodied. I can only think of Billy standing there and saying, “that was cool, let’s do it again.”