Authentic diverse French children's books written by women of colour

25 Nov 2021

Like many, looking for anti-racism resources for my kids, I started by looking for books with non-white characters. The thing is while my kids read in English, as a bilingual family, I also wanted books in French. I can find French translations of American books. But my kids know little about American history and being Mexican American or Asian American means little to them. I wanted books that they could more easily relate to or understand. I wanted books about being French from the Antilles or Algerian in France, etc. I wanted the books to relate to a more familiar diaspora of the population around them.

The books below are authentic books in French (not translations from other languages) written by women of colour and featuring characters of colour. The books are all story books, not documentaries or how-to books. I would also recommend checking out the authors mentioned as many have other books also published but I couldn't list them all. 
This is very much work in progress. I will keep adding to this collection as I find more. So be sure to come back.

Click on the images to learn more and/or purchase your own copy.

This article contains affiliate links. It means I may, under certain conditions, make a tiny little bit of money from you purchasing through them. It may buy me a coffee one day. You don't pay anything extra. It is a way for you to support the content I provide for free. So, thank you. 

1. Comme un million de papillons noirs, Laura Nsafou

Learning to love yourself. A gorgeous poetic book (just like the title) about a little girl and her curly hair that attracts a lot of comments from her school friends (often not positive). The book also deals with bullying which is not a common topic in french children's literature. It is suitable from 3/4 years old. I discovered Laura Nsafou's books thanks to her blog Mrs Roots. She is an amazing strong woman doing so much for black girls in France. Go buy her books. Get it on Amazon, Book Depository, Fnac

2. Le chemin de Jada, Laura Nsafou

The new book from Laura Nsafou deals with skin colour and the story of twin sisters whose skin colour is different. The underlying theme is about accepting yourself once again, which, if you ask me, is wonderful to see. Suitable from 3 years old. Get it on Amazon, Fnac

3. Peyi an nou, Jessica Oublié

A comic written by a French woman with origins in Martinique and Guadeloupe. It is the story of a whole department of the French administration that aimed to encourage people from the French overseas territories to move to France. I had never heard of this even though it is pretty recent history. The book deals with this pretty serious migration topic in a playful and happy way. Recommended for ages 12+. Get it on Amazon, Fnac.

4. Aya de Yopougon, Marguerite Abouet

I discovered this series of books through our local bookstore. A little trip to the Ivory Coast with Aya who wants to be different from her friends and become a doctor. The series (6 books) is very light-hearted while presenting many everyday topics of life in the Ivory Coast (including the language). The book comes in various formats. Recommended for 13+. Get it on Amazon, Book Depository, Fnac

5. Akissi, Marguerite Abouet

Another comic series but for younger children this time. Also set in the Ivory Coast, Akissi is a mischievious little girl who made my kids laugh out loud. The stories are simply about her everyday life. Suitable from 8+. Get it on Amazon, Book Depository, Fnac

6. Les saï-saï, Kidi Bebey

4 good friends from school, always together often spend their school holidays solving various mysteries and playing detectives. The author has origins in Cameroon and there are several books from the same series. Suitable from age 8. Get it on Amazon.

7. Neïba je-sais-tout, Madina Guissé

Neïba is a fun, straightforward and a little dishonest 9-year-old girl. When she learns a secret about her big brother, she decides she will never share it, not aware of the consequences this could have. This is the first instalment of a series of books suitable from about 7 years old. Get it on Amazon, Fnac

8. Les puissantes, Diveka

A crowd-funded book published by the Diveka Association about 20 powerful black women. The difference with many other books with strong women is that this one is French and not a translation in French, so the women represented are primarily French-speaking or relevant to the French-speaking community. And we love that! The campaign is over but you can still order the book here

9. Mulatako, Reine Dibussi 

Suitable from age 6, this book is about Cameroon's mami-wata, underwater spirits with extraordinary powers. This first book is about Jéméa, a 10-year-old boy who is not great at school. His school is about to be destroyed by the powerful administrators of his submarine world. How will him and his friends react? Get the books on Amazon, Fnac

10. Je veux le même, Belotie Nkashama 

The story of two little sisters who can't stop arguing because they want the same things. Always. Everyday. Until their parents offer a game to change this. Suitable from 2 years old. There is another instalment in the same author. Get the books on Amazon.

11. Ibrahim et Nelson, les super héros de la cour de récré, Hashley Auguste

Two ordinary boys who love to build things. But both are super-heros, of course, just like anybody else. We love this book as it also talks about disability. Get the book on Fnac

12. Insya veut danser le léwòz, Amandine Velin

Insya would love to dance at the party held by Monsieur Germain. But who can teach him how to dance? The author is a teacher from the French Antilles. This is her first book. And, in case you don't know, the léwòz is beat from Guadeloupe. Suitable from age 3. Get the book on Fnac.

13. Fadya et le chant de la rivière, Laura Nsafou

Another book from Laura Nsafou. This one is a unique story available on Lunii (a unique little device that allows kids to listen to stories without screen or radiowaves). If you have the system, this is a lovely story to add to your collection. It tells the story of group of women who hold magical powers and help anyone who asks. A beautiful story available here

14. Solitude la flamboyante, Paula Anacaona

A historical illustrated novel about slavery and the complexity of the relationships between masters and slaves set in Guadeloupe around 1780. The story is that of Solitude la flamboyante, a true Guadeloupe heroin committed to fighting racism, colonialism before her time. It is loosely based on a true story. A story for older kids and young adults. Get the book here: Amazon, Fnac

15.  Ouagadougou pressé, Roukiata Ouedraogo

It is the story of Roukiata, a young woman, getting ready to leave France for Burkina Faso. As she gets ready she tells the story of her life in Paris and its colourful streets. The books tells of difference, family and friendship in a rather fun way but not only. We really liked it. A graphic novel suitable from age 12+. Get the book on Amazon or Fnac

16. Little Nappy, Hashley Auguste

A bilingual book series written by an Franco-Haitian author. Each book deals with a different subject in the life of a young girl like taking care of her hair. The brand also includes a doll and lots of other items. Little Nappy is suitable from 3+. Get the books on Amazon or Fnac

17. J'aime lire (version Afrique)

Technically, not a book but I wanted to mention this version of the much loved French magazine. It features stories with mostly black kids and characters and the content is culturally adapted also. I have not personally tried it but I have heard good things from people who have. You can find out more here

Do you have any other family favourites? I would love to hear about them. 

Post a Comment

Thank you for your feedback.