Books that Bind Volume 1 - Benin Folktales

Books that Bind Volume 1 - Benin Folktales

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A pool of red oil glimmers in a furrow between two rows of yams. An older woman admires it’s beauty and begs the oil to take the form of a human companion, to relieve her of her loneliness. The oil agrees, on three conditions: 1) it cannot go near fire; 2) it must not pass under the sun; and 3) it cannot perform manual labor. 


The older lady agrees, and the oil transforms into a beautiful young woman. All goes well for a few weeks. Until…


Above is an excerpt from "The Red Oil," a folktale told in the small country of Benin, West Africa to entertain and teach young people life lessons. We believe that children thrive when they are able to use their imaginations and create stories. Our project, Books That Bind, has been developed to expand upon the oral tradition and give children living in challenging circumstances the chance to create books that reflect their own lives and culture.

The books are softcover and were created as a project between participants in the Three Sisters Education Fund in Benin and Michigan State University students. Each book is trilingual (English / French / Fongbe or Maxi or Goun). 

With each book purchase you have access to an accompanying website with photos and videos from the storytellers. 

For every book that you purchase, we give a copy of the same book to a school library in Benin so that more kids can learn to read and enjoy stories about their culture.

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