Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters Literature Guide

Grade Level: 
K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
by John Steptoe - A literature guide for parents, teachers, and group leaders to accompany the reading of this picture book. The guide below provides before, during, and after-reading discussion questions. Choose from activities and discussion questions to build children's understanding of generosity, caring, and respect for self and others. Spanish Version Attached.

Fairy tales are great stories that illustratea complicated moral issues in a make-believe context. The Cinderella story has a universal theme of an under-appreciated, kind, and honest child who finally gets what she deserves. Found in countries all around the world, the same story plays out in different contexts. Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters is a Cinderella story from Africa in which kindness, generosity, honesty, and love are rewarded and selfishness is punished. 

Before Reading

ASK: Is it important to be kind even if no one knows it was you who did the kind act? Think of some kind acts that could be done without letting others know you did them. Why would you want to keep it a secret?

SHOW: Look at the front and back covers of the book. Where and when might this story might take place? How does it look different from your area?

CONNECT: We are going to read a story about two beautiful daughters one of whom may marry a king if she is worthy.Can you think of any other stories that may be similar?

During Reading

ASK: How are the sisters in the story different from each other?

SHOW: Discuss the artwork and notice the different types of wildlife that are seen on each page. In what ways does the environment in the book look different from your own area?

CONNECT: No one can see the selfish and selfless acts of the daughters in the woods. Why does each one act the way she does? Have you ever acted selfish or selfless when no one was looking?

After Reading

ASK: When do you think the king decided that Nyasha was the one to become queen?

SHOW: Nyasha entered the chamber even though her sister warned her there was a monster inside. Look at her face and hands when she sees the snake. What can you tell about Nyasha from this picture?

CONNECT: Notice all the people watching the new queen on the last page. Why would the king want to make sure his country’s future queen was not selfish? How do you feel one someone in your life acts selfishly?


  1. Discuss and make a list of some ways that you can show kindness to people you live with, friends, and strangers.
    • Are the acts of kindness the same for each group of people?
    • Be sure to think of small acts of kindness as well as a bigger act that may involve some time and giving up an opportunity for yourself.
    • Make a plan to do some of the things on your list.
    • After some time, come back to talk about the list again. Did you do some of the things you planned? How did you feel? How did the people you were kind to react?
    • Can you add some ideas to your list?
  2. Explore Learning to Give's Kindness Toolkit. Watch this video and think about a time being kind was hard but you did it anyway.
  3. Consider the impact of positive messges. Try this Doodle Stones service project to spread positivity in your community.


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