A TCK Book: When Africa Was Home

I’m trying to collect them.    Books on TCKs aren’t easy to find, but then again, they aren’t horribly difficult to find either. You just have to know what you’re looking for. I’m trying to let them all have a place in my library and in my heart.  It’s just that some take up more heart space than others.  This one takes up a lot of space in my chest.

When Africa Was Home by Karen Lynn Williams is fantastic.  It’s words are as beautiful as the pictures Floyd Cooper has drawn.  Together they’ve created a book that makes me proud to work with TCKs and homesick all in the same breath.

Peter who grows up in Africa and has no memory of America is the main character.  The book is told from his perspective.  We learn the carefree rhythm of his days.  We hear the echoes of his mother’s words in his nanny’s mouth–and vice versa.  We see the joy of a life in an African village.  We feel (and some of us relate to) Peter’s reluctance to go to America.  We learn of our own country from the perspective of this hidden immigrant.  We are reminded of the sheer pleasure wrapped up in returning to our heart’s home.


If you know anyone who grew up in Sub-Saharan Africa–especially if they ever lived in a village, this book would be a meaningful gift for them.  Even though the story is set in Malawi (though it never comes right out and says so), there is so much that is relatable to life in other parts of Africa.  Africa is a varied continent with many threads connecting cultures across it’s immense space.

If you haven’t read it, go find it.  If you have, share what it means to you with someone who didn’t share the experience with you.

What children’s book occupies a great space in your heart?

Image courtesy of Amazon.com (as if you couldn’t tell!)


12 responses to “A TCK Book: When Africa Was Home”

  1. It would be impossible for me to start that kind of list, but one that pops out at me because of the African topic is “The Vingananee and the Tree Toad,” by Verna Aardema. It’s based on a Liberian folk tale told by a wonderful Liberian story teller named “Aunt Clara,” who I used to listen to over Radio ELWA when I was a kid. I bought this book for my niece when she was a toddler, and it has become a family favorite. The Liberian flavor permeates the whole book.

  2. I can’t wait to read this book. One of my favorite books to read to my girls is Toot and Puddle. And I can’t think of the title right now, but this book shows how Toot loves to travel and Puddle likes to stay at home in Woodcock Pocket. It feels like home when I read that book, because I can relate to all the travels of Toot as well as the seasons of life that Puddle experiences staying behind. I could read it over and over to the kids!=)

  3. This isn’t so much a “heart” book…but it was one we read before moving to Asia. The Way We Do it in Japan: http://www.amazon.com/Way-We-Do-Japan/dp/0807578223/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1326773732&sr=8-3

    The boy and his family move to Japan for his father’s job. As they experience differences in culture and lifestyle, his mom uses the phrase “because that’s the way we do it in Japan.” I thought it was a helpful book to read to help prepare our little ones for transition overseas. We use the phrase often about where we live, when something is new or strange to us. 🙂

  4. Wrote this down to go look for. Got any other MK/TCK book suggestions? Always looking for good recommendations! Miss you!

  5. I would love to see more of the books on your list! I, too, am always looking for good books for the TCKs I teach. Currently I’m reading The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo. I really feel like this book could speak to the many losses of important people that TCKs experience and the struggle it can be to invest yourself when you know that it will inevitably lead to loss.

  6. Janet – I’ll have to look for that one. I have fables from Zaire and other stories from the Ashanti, but nothing from Liberia. Thanks for the suggestion. I’m looking forward to reading a book where I can hear
    Liberian English reverberating through my head.

    Rachel–That book sounds perfect for getting kids ready for their first overseas experience. I’m going to have to look for it. I’m so excited about the journey you and your family are on!

    Rikki – Another one to look for. I love the way you used it with C & V! That’s a good phrase to have.

    Judy – I think I’m going to make this another kind of feature. I seem to have a hard time getting TCKs to actually do the interviews. (Wanna do one?) You are one of the most well read people I know. What suggestions do you have? Miss you tons . . . was ready to go in debt this morning and jump on a plane to come and see you.

    Beth – I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Edward Tulane!!!! I discovered him last spring and read him over and over again this summer to kids. DiCamillo illustrates so poignantly the losses–and how they’re compounded when you don’t get to say the good-byes. I decided that for this year I’m going to have to find a china doll because last summer the little kids all talked to their parents about the “Chinese Rabbit.” Silly kids.

  7. Love this! Thanks so much Sheryl. One heart book that is worth mentioning is “Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing After Loss” by Pat Schwiebert & Chuch DeKlyen – great book on loss that is general enough to apply not just to loss through death but loss of all the myriad of things a TCK loses with a move.

  8. Jessica – We have that book in our department library. It’s definitely a keeper. I feel it just gets a little long at times . . . but grief is like that, isn’t it?

    Jennifer – I’m embarrassed to say that I’m not sure. Ugh. I hate it when I don’t know. Hopefully she’ll return to this page and share her secret identity! 🙂 ELWA beach – I wanted to go, but never got there. I have good friends who have shared pictures and fond memories with me of that beach. I feel like I should know it.

  9. I wrote a book about growing up as a TCK, mostly about India and Europe but you might find it interesting?

    “Home Keeps Moving” — available on amazon of course!

    Take care,
    Heidi Sand-Hart

  10. Thanks for the recommendation, Heidi! The title of your book sounds familiar. I’m definitely going to add your book to my wish list.

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