For You are a Kenyan Child

by Kelly Cunnane

We walk through the day in a life of a young Kenyan boy who, on that particular day, has been intrusted to watch after his grandfathers cows in the field. His mind easily wanders and we meet his friends playing a traditional game of rag ball and stops to eat bugs out of the sky. You get a wonderful look at the Kenyan culture from the child's perspective, which gives it a humorous spin to it.
  • Comedy and Humor
  • General Fiction

  • Social Studies
  • Animals
  • Character and Values
  • Geography and Map Skills

About: Kelly Cunnane

Kelly Cunnane has been exploring and writing about East Africa since 1979 and teaching in the Secondary School of a Kalenjin village. She has an MA in English with emphasis on Creative Nonfiction and has taught K-8 art and culture as well as English at the high school and university level. She has won many awards for her books such as: The New York Library List of 100 Books for Reading and Sharing, The Ezra Jack Keats Award and The Maine Lupine Award.

About: Ana Juan

Ana Juan has submitted her cover art to The New Yorker since 1995. She was born in Valencia, Spain, and studied fine arts and later moved to Madrid, where she began to publish her illustrations in magazines and newspapers. Juan has published many illustrated books, including several for children. “The Night Eater” (2004), the first children’s book that she both wrote and illustrated, won the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award in 2004.

Favorite Illustration

This photo stood out to me not only because it was the climax of the story but I like it because of the humor. The cow with a basket on his head, the worry in the boys face and the cows inside someones home all add to the comedy of the story. Ana Juan's paintings are so colorful and warm throughout the whole story and I think it adds a very authentic touch.

In the Classroom:

ELA Standard: W.1.3 - Write narratives in which they recount two or more appropriately sequenced events, include some details regarding what happened, use temporal words to signal event order and provide some sense of closure.

  • The students will create a narrative about what a typical day in their life looks like while including dialog, settings and people they come across.
  • I would read this book and ask questions as I read and then when the story is over introduce the activity. I would suspect that since it is with first graders that this could be a week long unit plan where they create their own book with a title such as "For you are a _________."
  • The students will create a Venn diagram after the story that compares similarities and differences between the Kenyan boy and their daily routine. This will give them a different perspective and show them how other cultures experience similar and different things.


  • Cunnane, Kelly. 2006. For you are a Kenyan Child. New York. Simon & Schuster.