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African Proverbs for All Ages

Johnnetta Betsch Cole and Nelda LaTeef; illustrated by Nelda LaTeef

Roaring Brook Press

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ISBN10: 1250756065
ISBN13: 9781250756060


40 Pages



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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.

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


Praise for African Proverbs for All Ages

“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

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Johnnetta Betsch Cole and Nelda LaTeef; illustrated by Nelda LaTeef

Johnnetta Betsch Cole is a noted anthropologist and educator. A native of Jacksonville, Florida, she grew up during the days of racial segregation. She holds a B.A. in sociology from Oberlin College, and masters and doctorate degrees from Northwestern University. Dr. Cole has conducted anthropological fieldwork in Liberia, West Africa, and traveled to 17 African countries. She is the only person to have served as president for both Spelman and Bennet Colleges; she was also the Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art from 2009 to 2016. Dr. Cole serves as the Chair of the Board and the President of the National Council of Negro Women, an organization with a membership of over two million women of African descent. Throughout her career, she has worked on issues of racial, gender and other systems of inequality.

Nelda LaTeef is the award-winning author and illustrator of The Hunter and The Ebony Tree, Animal Village, and The Talking Baobab Tree. She grew up in a US Foreign Service family and spent her childhood attending schools in Europe, Africa, and Asia. She has traveled throughout West Africa conducting field research, and has even been to the fabled city of Timbuktu. She holds a degree in social anthropology from Harvard University. Nelda lives in Virginia with her family where she enjoys traveling, tennis, and cycling.

Boston Photography
Courtesy of Nelda LaTeef