African Folktales Recommendations

Book Cover of African Folktales


When I was a child I remember being read a set of African animal fables and that’s what the Anansi stories and “The People Could Fly” reminded me of. The stories came from a book that may have been The Zebra’s Stripes and Other African Animal Tales by Dianne Stewart and Kathy Pienaar. If not, that book is very similar and I would recommend it if you would like to explore more stories like Anansi’s. These stories are meant to be educational and do so by “explaining” how animals became the way they are. The stories are fun and light hearted, enjoy!

I have read fairytales and fables from a number of different cultures that I think others would enjoy if they liked this episode. I really enjoy The Great Fairy Tale Tradition selected and edited by Jack Zipes. It features tales from Straparola, Basile, and the Brothers Grimm who wrote from different parts of Europe in different eras. These stories are more adult than the fable type tales of this episode, if you would like something a little more grim, pun intended.


Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman, takes the spirit of this episode and their mutual preceding story in stride. It takes place in the present and, after the reincarnation of Anansi dies, he leaves two sons in the world who must find each other and figure out their place and their birthright. It mirrors the important Anansi folk stories theme of respectful remembrance of heritage, and keeps that twinkle in the eye, as it were.

Anansi the Spider (1972) is a gorgeously vibrant short animated film created almost entirely by one man, Gerald McDermott. The art style is fabulously stunning and unique, and full of contrast, while being deferential to traditional African art style. It’s exactly that kind of blending of old and new that the diasporic Anansi stories represent, and has an accurate and fulfilling retelling of some of Anansi’s best moments.

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