Ghanaian Writer, Portia Dery Wins Internationally Coveted Children’s Africana Book Award

It is very exciting to see one of the vibrant writers, volunteer and founder of African Youth Writers’ Organization (AYWO) win the 2018 internationally coveted Children’s Africana Book Award (CABA) for her debut book; Grandma’s List.

The debut book according to, had won a prestigious Golden Baobab Prize for The Best Picture Book manuscript in Africa in 2014.

The writer, Portia Dery is a very passionate writer and social activist who dedicates her life to see young people smile. Portia’s AYWO runs a reading clinic which trains students in basic schools on how to read and write and it has been running to-date.

Portia who stays in Tamale, is from the Upper West Region of Ghana and has contributed so much in the literary environment in Tamale through her organization.

Grandma’s List which won the internationally coveted Children’s Africana Book Award (CABA), is her first published book. The book was illustrated by a renowned South African illustrator, Toby Newsome, who jointly won the CABA with Portia Dery.

The Children’s Africana Book Award is an annual prize presented to authors and illustrators of the best children’s and young adult books on Africa published or republished in the U.S.A. The awards were created by Africa Access and the Outreach Council of the African Studies Association (ASA) and its sponsors includes the African Studies departments of universities Harvard, Howard and Yale among others. Past winning writers of CABA include Desmond Tutu and Nnedi Okorafor

Portia Dery’s book Grandma’s List is a brilliant and colorful story about an 8-year old girl Fatima, who wants to save the day by helping her Grandmother complete her list of errands. The problem is, Fatima loses the list and she has to recall from memory what was written on it. The rest of story then takes the reader on a funny and heartwarming adventure with Fatima and her family

Grandma’s List published by African Bureau Stories, won the 2018 CABA Young Children’s category along with two other books from international publishers, Candlewick Press and Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

The new children’s publishing house, African Bureau Stories, has made an impressive move in publishing a truly Pan-african book like Grandma’s List, which is a powerful literary partnership between Ghana and South Africa. The publishing house’s aim is to produce world class and contemporary African stories for children. In addition to Grandma’s List, African Bureau Stories has produced 3 other children’s books which according to the publisher, Deborah Ahenkorah, are “super cool books that will delight children all over the world.”

Anastasia Shown, a CABA Reviewer from the University of Pennsylvania says: “Grandma’s List is an excellent read aloud book for school or storytime. The illustrations show a neighborhood in Ghana that is very typical of many African towns with shops, gardens, small livestock, and many people outside working and playing… One of the best features of the book is the characters of many ages. The book can generate lots of great open ended questions”


Edited by || Abdul-Hakim Zakaria


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