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African Proverbs for All Ages
Johnnetta Betsch Cole and Nelda LaTeef, illustrations by Nelda LaTeef


African Proverbs for All Ages is a beautifully-illustrated, engaging picture book about the power of proverbs, how they evolve over time, and the wisdom of various cultures in Africa.

It has been said that a proverb is a short sentence based on long experience.

Whether you are young or old, proverbs can open your mind to a whole new way of seeing the world. We underestimate children when we assume they are incapable of understanding metaphor and deeper meaning. There are multiple ways that children learn, but for each method by which they learn, they need their imagination engaged and their visual sensibilities ignited. And as adults, we underestimate ourselves when we allow our lives to be about practical matters only. Proverbs can stir our soul and spark our imagination. --Johnnetta Betsch Cole, Ph.D. President Emerita of Spelman and Bennett Colleges

In African Proverbs for All Ages, noted anthropologist and educator Dr. Johnetta Betsch Cole and award-winning illustrator Nelda LaTeef invite children and adults to explore and reflect on complex notions about relationships, identity, society, and the human condition.

A Roaring Brook Press and Oprah Book


Johnnetta Betsch Cole is an American anthropologist, educator, museum director, and college president. Cole was the first female African-American president of Spelman College, a historically black college, serving from 1987 to 1997. She was president of Bennett College from 2002 to 2007.


A Children's Africana Book Awards 2022 Honor Book for Children's winner
"This ingeniously designed volume is as engaging as a game, one that becomes more rewarding with each round of play... This is a book that sparks conversation." -- The New York Times

"This interactive, multilayered, gorgeously illustrated book of wisdom is for all ages, and it demands repeated reading." -- Booklist

"This lushly illustrated collection of African proverbs proposes a game of sorts... Strikingly detailed." -- Horn Book

“This beautifully illustrated collection of wisdom will be a treasure for children and the adults who share this book with them.” -- Marian Wright Edelman, President Emerita, Children’s Defense Fund

“Again and again these irresistible pictures invite you to turn the pages of this quietly powerful book... and to discover exactly the inspiring words you need to hear at the moment.” -- Ann Temkin, The Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture, Department of Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art

“Proverbs are important for all ages, and Dr. Johnnetta Cole and Nelda LaTeef have inspired us with the beautifully illustrated African Proverbs for All Ages! Kids remember proverbs whereas they might forget a long conversation. A must buy!” -- Laura Nader, Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley

“The genius of African Proverbs for all Ages is that each stunningly eloquent panel offers a teachable moment. In this regard, this gem of a book leads readers of all ages, of all lands and climes, towards a shared understanding.” -- Olásopé O. Oyèláràn, Linguist, Scholar of the Yorùbá Language

[H]  Roaring Brook Press  /    November 30, 2021

0.4" H x 11.1" L x 8.7" W (0.9 lbs) 40 pages

For ages 4 to 8