Teaching Ancient Civilizations with Children’s Literature: Mansa Musa: The Lion of Mali


 Introduction and Summary

 Mansa Musa:  The Lion of Mali, by Khephra Burns,  tells the story of young Kankan Musa, who vanishes from his village in Mali after slave traders kidnap him.  His mother and brothers were devastated.  Kankan was only fourteen when he was sold to a mysterious man dressed so heavily in robes that only his eyes could be seen.  The mysterious man befriends Kankan and shows him the ways of living and surviving in the desert.  Kankan goes on a journey of self-discovery while traveling thousands of miles with him around Africa.  He learns about the pyramids in Egypt, confronts genie’s that transform themselves into lions, and learns about self-control and maturity.  Seven years later, when he is twenty, he makes a journey back to his village to find that his brother has been named King.  He approaches his family and they learn that Kankan has finally returned to the village after all these years.  Kankan becomes a great adviser to his brother and later he himself becomes King.  Many parts of the story are true while the author, Khephra Burns, used fictional stories to detail parts of Kankan Masa’s life.

 Curriculum Connections

 Mansa Musa:  The Lion of Mali would be great for a third grade class learning about Ancient Mali.  A teacher could read Mansa Musa:  The Lion of Mali aloud to students as it is a long book with some difficult words.  Students could go online and do a webquest to learn about the journey that Mansa Musa took and about the culture of Ancient Mali.  (Va SOL 3.2)

 Additional Resources

  • Ancient Mali Scavenger Hunt – An online scavenger hunt where students can find clues and information on Ancient Mali.  Directions are included for students.
  • Mansa Musa Webquest – Online resource for students to learn about Mansa Musa and the journey that he went on.

 General Information

 Book: Mansa Musa:  The Lion of Mali

Author:  Khephra Burns

Illustrator:  Leo and Diane Dillon

Publisher:  Harcourt Childrens Books

Publication Date:  2001

Grade Range:  3-6

ISBN:  100152003754  

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