Monday, July 6, 2009

Ancient Maya Civilization


The Ancient Maya
by Lila Perl
Franklin Watts/Scholastic, 2005
Gr. 5+
PCPL 972.81016 P42a
Full of photos
This is the book that gave me the most historical data in the easiest form to digest and enjoy. Beginning my Maya unit each year with a reread of this book will refresh (and interest) me perfectly. Recommended.

The Maya: Activities and Crafts from a Mysterious Land
by Arlette N. Braman, 2003
Gr. 3-8
118 pages
John Wiley & Sons
PCPL Library, read 0709
972.81016 B7318m

This book is both full of information and loaded with activites and projects. Chapters and projects include:
Daily life: at work, at home, and at play (There's a great board game, Bul!, and an animal whistle that looks pretty complicated
Society: farmers, warriors, and kings (planting an aluminum pan herb field, making a jaguar shield and macaw headdress
Food: sacred food, fire food, and food of the gods (with recipes for corn cakes, chicken chili, and a chocolate drink
Art and Architecture: weaving, mask making, pottery, and building a temple/pyramid
Science, Math, and Writing: with math activities, personal glyph rubbing, making a code book, and a glyph amulet

A good glosssary and index are also included.

See the projects one girl created using this book

Mexico & Central America
A Fiesta of Cultures, Crafts, and Acctivities for Ages 8-12

by Mary C. Turck
See the separate review I wrote for this great activity/information book.

Your Travel Guide to Ancient Mayan Civilization
by Nancy Day, 2001
Gr. 4-8
96 pages
Runestone Press, Minneapolis
PCPL Library, read 0709
972.81016 D3329y
Excellent source.

Lots of information, presented as if you were to be a traveler to the civilization during the period of 600-800 AD. It doesn't mince the sacrificial aspects of the culture, and includes some facts kids would consider gross---and love----like cures for sickness: "If all else fails, have him remove one sandal, urinate in it and drink the urine." There's trivia that kids (and adults) would love, explanations of jewelry, tatooing, clothing (or lack thereof), their writing system, still existing pyramids and how they were used, games.... I read almost every word, and I am definitely a nonfiction skimmer, not reader.

Illustrations: Photographs of Mayan antiquities, including pyramids, carving, and reddish-orange paintings.

Mystery of The Maya
Peter Lourie, 2001
Gr. 4-7
48 pgs.
Boyds Mills Press
PCPL Library
972.75016 L934m

Peter Lourie accompanies American archeologist Ed Barnhart who is uncovering the ancient Maya city of Palenque, located in the Mexican state of Chiapas on the border of Guatemala. Filled with photographs of the site, flora, fauna, and contemporary Mayas who are helping with the excavation, his first person narrative is interesting, reading like a story. Here's a nonfiction to read from beginning to end, without skimming. Very interesting and informative.


Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow
by James Rollins
Gr. 5-8
402 pages

See my review from July 2009.

Opening lines:"The man fled down the steep slope of the jungle mountain. His boots slipped in the muck of wet leaves and slick mud. Clinging branches and snagging thorns sought to catch him, but he ripped straight through them."

The Corn Grows Ripe
by Dorothy Rhoads, 1956
Gr. 4-7
90 pgs.
Contemporary Realistic Fiction

Dionisio, called Tigre (Jaguar), takes over the preparing, sowing, and harvesting of his family MILPA (cornfield) when his father gets hurt. This worked really well in my fourth-grade classroom. The setting is richly described and we get a close look at the culture of a primitive contemporary Maya village that still has ties to the "old ways" of the ancient Maya.

The Most Beautiful Place in the World
by Ann Cameron, 1988
Gr. 2-4
46 pages
Contemporary realistic fiction

A look at life in modern-day Guatemala. See my review from April 2009.

Beginning lines: "My name is Juan. I live in Guatemala, in the mountains. My town, San Pablo, has three huge volcanoes near it, and high cliffs all around it, and steep, bright green fields of corn and garlic and onions growing in the hills, and red coffee berries growing in the shade of the big trees in valleys."

The Bravest Flute
by Ann Grifalconi
The Story of Courage in the Mayan Tradition
Published 1994
Little Brown & Co.
My review can be found here.

I haven't found too many picture books out there (as yet) that are primarily about the Maya. This one is about a contemporary Maya village and gives some insight into the current traditions of the Maya.


How the Peacock Got its Feathers
Based on a Mayan Folktale
by Sandy Sepehri
Illustrated by Brian Demeter
Published Sept. 2006
Rourke Pub. (Vero Beach, FL)
32 pgs.
$28.50 ! ! ! (Library Bound? Small Press?)
PCPL has ONE COPY of it

Peahen has a beautiful voice, but wants the beauty of Chaac's (the rain god) feathers. So she steals them, and is punished by having to live with them permanently - and now only squacks instead of singing. Five highlighted vocabulary words and pronounciation of Mayan words in the glossary.

Illustrations are big, colorful, bold - not too detailed, but they appeal to my love of a "stained glass" look in art.


CEJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CEJ said...

You might also consider Mayeros by George Ancona. It's available at