For you are a Kenyan Child

Sara Curran

About the Author

Kelly Cunnane

Kelly Cunnane is an author and educator. She lived in Africa for many years, but now lives in Maine. For you are a Kenyan Child was her first book for children. Kelly has explored the Caribbean, Europe, South America, and China, but feels most connected to Africa. Kelly taught in East Africa in a Secondary School of a Kalenjin village. According to Kelly Cunnanes website, “she has tremendous faith in the power of the arts to create bridges between cultures and within ourselves, thus I use drama, drawing, and writing to bring alive the world of the Kalenjin tribe and the Sahara as I've experienced them.” Kelly shares her love for Africa through her picture books.

Work cited- Cunnane, K. (n.d.). About kelly cunnane ~ author and educator. Retrieved from

About the Illustrator

Ana Juan

Ana lives in Madrid, Spain. Ana’s paintings have appeared on the cover of the New Yorker, on book/album jackets, several European magazines, and film festival posters. She has illustrated several books including- Elena’s Serenade, Frida and The Night Eater.

Work cited- Cunnane, K. (2006). For you are a Kenyan child. New York, Toronto, Sydney London : Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

About For you are a Kenyan Child

Genre- Cultural Folktale

Theme- The Kenyan culture and specifically the everyday life of a Kalenjin young boy.


The 2006 Maine Lupine Award: Most Outstanding Children's Picture Book writing

The Ezra Jack Keats Award:

Outstanding Children's Picture Book writing: award given for a story that exemplifies the universal world of family, community, and the child

The New York Library list of 100 Books for Reading and Sharing

Background information about the text-

The text is about a day in the life of a Kalenjin boy who lives is a village in East Africa. His native language is Kalenjin, but he also speaks Kiswahili, Kenya's national language and Swahili. In Kenyan villages it is custom to call out, "Hodi,?" the equivalent being, "Anyone Home?" The reply is, "Karibu!," which means "Welcome!"

3 Criteria for Cultural Relevancy

1. Be rich in cultural details

The book, For you are a Kenyan Child not only describes and visualizes the setting and routines of the small village in Eastern Africa, but it also provides background information. On the dedication page, background information and vocabulary concerning East Africa are listed and described in great detial. The information covers the languages and greetings used in this region. These details are useful and relevant because the author uses the custom language throughout the book.

2. Honor and celebrate diversity as well as common bonds in humanity

The cover of the book, For you are a Kenyan Child states, "But despite this, things arent that different for a Kenyan child than they would be for an American kid, are they?" Although the book specifically talks about the life of a Kalenji boy and his home, it makes sure to relate the boy's life/story to everyone else's in the world by ending the book with, "You might hear, among the tall trees, a great black monkey telling her child the story of being chased by a boy, until they fall you, like us." The whole purpose of the book was to show that no matter where you come from we are all connected in someway.

3. Characterization should be true to life and balanced, representing both positive and negative behaviors and traits.

The book begins with the boy's mother asking him to take his grandfathers cows to the pasture and watch them carefully. The boy goes to see the cows and then decides to leave them and see what else is going on in the village. For the rest of the book, the boy becomes distracted by friends and forgets about the cows until the very end. The plot of this story shows that the boy can be kind and fun, but that these qualities lead him to be forgetful as well. The boys positive and negative behaviors/traits were exposed in the book.
Pastel and Water colors

Classroom Application

English Language Arts

2nd grade writing

Standard- W.2.3- Write narratives in which they recount a well-elaborated event or short sequence of events, include details to describe actions, thoughts, and feelings, use temporal words to signal event order, and provide a sense of closure.

Objective- The student will write a narrative about their typical day using details and sequence.

  • The teacher will read the book aloud
  • The class will discuss the boy's life and what his typical day looks like.
  • The students will find similarities and differences between the characters life and their own.
  • The teacher will then explain to the students that they are going to write their own narrative, like the young boy in the story by describing their everyday routines and settings. The teacher will explain that the students should make their story sequential.
  • The students will also use illustrations to describe their descriptions.
  • Once the students are finished, they will share their story and illustration with the class.The teacher will make connections among the students stories and connections to the Kalenjin boy's story.

Voice Thread

An excerpt from the book using voice thread.