Let’s Hold Hands: an Annotated Bibliography

Axtell, D. (1999). We’re going on a Lion Hunt. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company.

David Axtell retells Michael Rosen’s original, “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt,” (1989) with a cultural twist.   Both books are about a small group of individuals fearlessly hunting (or looking) for something unknown.  The books differ however, when looking at the settings and characters.  Whereas the bear hunt consists of familiar-looking characters and surroundings, the lion hunt contains two sisters of African-descent searching a foreign African savannah.

Collaboratively, I have chanted with my kindergarteners Rosen’s “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” several times.  Next year, my new kiddos will not only get the pleasure of chanting along with the familiar bear hunters, we will also go on an African savannah adventure with two girls of a different culture!

We will compare the two books and the two adventures.  We will focus more on similarities than differences.

Daly, N. (2006). Welcome to Zanzibar Road. New York, NY: Clarion Books Houghton Mifflin.

This South African tale is about is about animals who live together in a neighborhood.  The community consists of Baba Jive, Bro Vusi, Louie-Louie, Juju, Kwela, Buti, Little Chico, and the newest member, Mama Jumbo.  Together, these animals represent common attitudes and neighborly behaviors that are notable in all cultures.  However, individually, the characters uniquely symbolize South American culture.

This lighthearted book can be read during our Let’s Hold Hands unit to make note of the meaning of home-life, (MY PEOPLE POEM!!!) friendship, and neighborly love.  Our geographies may differ…but our hearts DO NOT!

Graber, J. (2009). Muktar and the Camels (Kenya and Somalia). New York, NY:  Henry Holt and Company.

This inspiring story is about a young boy, Muktar who had been transferred to an orphanage camp upon the death of his parents.  He had to leave behind a familiar nomadic lifestyle of tending for his beloved camels.  In his new school his teacher accused him of being lazy as he daydreamed through his treasured memories.  Soon after, three camels came through his orphanage but one is injured and Muktar is eager to help the wounded animal.   With his success came a reward, he was then granted the opportunity to care for the camp’s camels. 

Whereas this book is less upbeat than the two listed above, it is a necessary read aloud during my Let’s Hold Hands unit.  My students will learn about hardship and the power of children’s’ hopes and dreams.  

Javaherbin, M. (2010). Goal! (South Africa). Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press.


I love the book trailer above to grab students’ attention prior to reading the story to them!

This story is about a group of South African boys who must rely on their courage to overcome an obstacle.  The main character, Ajani is rewarded with a soccer ball for being the best reader in the class.  In a poverty-stricken community, the soccer ball is equivalent to gold for a young boy.  Unfortunately the Ajani and his friends must be very cautious of older classmates who want the ball for themselves. Through courage and teamwork the young boys outwit the bullies and enjoy soccer as if nothing else in the world matters.

I think my kiddos will relate to this book because of their love for their own cooperative sporting activities.  My students’ soccer fields, baseball parks, etc. may not be a dusty dirt road that the story’s poverty-stricken characters rely on, but their attitudes and teamwork certainly match up.  


Leonard, M. (2001). Tibili, The Little Boy Who Didn’t Want to Go to School. La Jolla, CA: Kane/Miller Book Publishers, Inc.

This story is about a young, upbeat, bright African boy.  This boy, however, is reluctant of his next life adventure: school.  He fears the unknown and thinks school will be boring, he doesn’t understand why he must go! Tibili tries to avoid school with the help of some friends, a lizard, bat and spider.  The spider leads him to a “box of knowledge,” that could help him get out of going to school.  When he finds the box, he is unable to open it because he is unable to read.  He decides (on his own terms) that he will go to school after all. 

This book will be a wonderful book to read to my kinders during our Let’s Hold Hands project as this boy may not live in the same country we do, but he still deals with the same obstacles.  This fall (when I plan on implementing this unit), my students will have recently come to school for the first time.  They will have been nervous and shy, but they will all overcome this and will be much more confident.  This will open lots of opportunity for discussion and possibly padlets, “Advice for Tibili,” etc. This book also touches on African animals we could possibly conduct internet workshops on animals that can be found in this region.


I ordered each of these books from Amazon.com and paid next-to-nothing for them!  I strongly advise you guys to check these books out-whether or not you are completing your Lets Hold Hands project on an African region.  They are great books for your kiddos to look at in class libraries or for you to read aloud to them.  Remember our “Danger of a single story” speech? Our kiddos need to be exposed to books that explore different cultures!



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