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Maya Civilisation Topic

Mayans

Best Children’s Books about the Maya

The Maya civilisation topic offers a wealth of interesting history to explore – from impressive pyramids and cities to complex calendars and a rich cultural heritage still prevalent in Central America today. We’ve picked out some of the best books about the Maya suitable for primary school children looking to explore the topic.

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Chapter Books about the Ancient Maya

J&P Voelkel
Chapter book

An action-packed and thoroughly researched adventure novel filled with suspense and excitement, with a good level of depth for upper KS2. This book, which is the first in a popular series, tells the story of fourteen-year-old Max, who finds himself on a quest to rescue his archaeologist parents from the Maya underworld and to save the world from the Lords of Death.
You can also sign up for a virtual school visit from the authors.

Maz Evans
Chapter book

Studying the Maya civilisation (definitely not ‘the Mayans’ as you will find out in the book) is a popular theme in KS2 and now Maz Evans has provided the perfect class reader to go alongside the topic!

As well as enjoying a humorous, fast-paced adventure, readers will learn about Maya culture, including meeting some of their gods and experiencing the deadly game Pok a Tok, which cousins Vesper and Aster must play to prevent the destruction of both themselves and their world.

The two characters are very different – Vesper, football-loving, outspoken and headstrong and Aster, quieter and more studious, but with a bright secret – and the reader comes to understand them, their relationships, their strengths and their motives as the story develops. Many children will be familiar with, and fans of, the Who Let the Gods Out series by the same author, and they will equally enjoy this spin-off series, which includes some familiar and favourite characters, but is a series starter in its own right.

This is a brilliant read-aloud to bring the Maya world to life and help pupils make links in their learning about ancient civilizations.

Johnny Pearce
 & Andy Loneragan
Chapter book
An exciting action-packed thriller based on the excavation of a newly found Maya city, best suited to Year 6 or beyond. The tale follows twin twelve-year-olds Verity and Ethan, who travel to Guatemala with their father. Whilst excavating a Maya site, an ancient mask is discovered. Is the mask the cause of the end of the Maya civilisation, or is something more underhand going on?

Children's Non-Fiction Books about the Ancient Maya

Nick Hunter
Non-fiction
This book explores what life was really like for everyday people in the Maya Civilization. Using primary sources and information from archeological discoveries, it uncovers some fascinating insights and explodes some myths. Supported by timelines, maps and references to important events and people, children will really feel they are on a time-travelling journey when reading this book.
DK
Non-fiction
Find out about the incredible ancient civilizations of the Americas, right up until the Spanish conquest. Discover the monumental pyramids and mountain cities of the Maya, Inca, and Aztec people. Explore the sites of Chichen Itza, Machu Picchu, and Tenochtitlan, learn the pictures of the Mayan language, unearth the history of chocolate, and find out how naughty children were punished with chillis! Peer into the past with amazing illustrations, see some of the most impressive ancient structures in the world, and stock up on facts to amaze your friends with. Packed with information, artefacts, and colourful illustrations, DKfindout! Maya, Incas, and Aztecs brings their worlds to life.
Jon Richards
Non-fiction
History in Infographics helps children to visualise facts and statistics using a clever and appealing mix of graphics and numbers. The colourful, high-impact design will appeal to a wide range of children, from visual learners to struggling readers, capturing and then holding their attention. Infographics are a really exciting, different way to learn about core historical topics, and are ideal for fact-hungry children, revision work, and to improve the quality of presentations. History in Infographics: The Maya allows children to explore the Maya civilisation like never before, finding out how people lived, what they ate, what they wore, how they were ruled, the games they played and how the civilisation died out. Children can discover that the Maya were the first people to make hot chocolate, and how they did it, that they went to war to capture prisoners they then sacrificed to their gods, and all about other South American civilisations, including the Aztecs and the Incas. Ideal for children of 9+, and fact and history lovers of all ages, the Maya have never seemed more exciting!
Tracey Kelly
Non-fiction
Mayans looks at one of the most fascinating and advanced ancient civilisations. Through structures as imposing as a sacrificial pyramid or objects as beautiful and complex as the Mayan calendar, readers aged 9 and up gain a picture of who was whom in ancient central America and how the civilisation in which they lived really worked. Perfect for Key Stage 2, each book in Great Civilisations approaches its subject through a scene-setting spread Who/where were the... then introduces the achievements of the chosen civilisation through 12 structures or objects, each of which illustrates a key aspect or theme. Writing, architecture, industry, warfare, transport and learning are all covered in the same simple, colourful and engaging way. Fact boxes and panels present incidental information and point the reader to the importance of parallel developments in other parts of the world.
Tim Cooke
Non-fiction
Take a look at the wackier side of history! Did the Maya really invent hot chocolate? Why did they have pointed heads? And did the Maya civilisation really disappear? With an engaging question and answer format, this series draws young readers into the fascinating, sometimes gruesome, world of famous peoples and civilisations through history. Each spread opens with a simple question, opening up an exploration of an aspect of the life of a people or civilisation and busting some popular myths along the way!. The lively lay-out is supported by annotated photos and cartoons, making history fun and accessible for readers aged 9+.

Ben Hubbard
Non-fiction

An information text in the format of a ‘time travel guide’, which takes readers back to over 1,000 years ago to a place called Chichén Itzá. There, you’ll find out about all things Maya related, including how to climb the steep Kukulkun temple, where to watch traditional Maya ball game and how to sample some delicious chilli-spiced drinking chocolate.

Clare Hibbert
Non-fiction

A bright and engaging journey through the Maya civilisation.

This informative text is broken up into smaller chunks to make it accessible for younger KS2 readers. There are plenty of visuals to bring the content to life, while still incorporating plenty of subject-specific terminology.

The cartoon-style illustrations and speech bubbles add fun and interest to engage the more reluctant readers.

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