American History Reading List
Books on Early American Civilizations
Inca, Aztec, Mayan, & other Native Americans
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Topical books for kids on the Aztec, Incan, & Mayan civilizations are readily available at your library, but historical fiction is a little harder to find.
Some of the better general American Indian books are listed here, but many more reading selections on Native Americans are listed under other dates in their historical time period (i.e., books on Squanto can be found on the 1620s page, etc.).
The Ancient Maya by Jackie Maloy. Scholastic, 2010. E-UE
Colorful with lots of illustrations and easy-to-read type, this books gives kids (& adults!) a great foundation to understanding the Mayan culture in a fun way. Uses the BCE/CE time divisions.
The Aztec Empire by Sunita Apte. Scholastic, 2010. E-UE
Colorful with lots of illustrations and easy-to-read type, this books gives kids (& adults!) a great foundation to understanding the Aztec culture in a fun way. Uses the BCE/CE time divisions.
The Corn Grows Ripe by Dorothy Rhoads, illus. Jean Charlot. Puffin Books, 1993. E-UE
Newbery Medal. The story of a Mayan boy introduces the reader to the culture.
The Good Llama: A Picture Story From Peru
by Anne Rockwell. The World Publishing Co., 1968. UE
So many ancient cultures have "Great Flood" legends, and this is one of them. The book tells the Incan legend of a great flood and how a llama saved his people from the disaster. Since the Incans worshiped the sun, the sun plays a key role in the story as well.
The Inca Empire by Sandra Newman. Scholastic, 2010. E-UE
Colorful with lots of illustrations and easy-to-read type, this books gives kids (& adults!) a great foundation to understanding the Incan culture in a fun way. Uses the BCE/CE time divisions.
Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan Clark, illus. Jean Charlot. Viking Press, 1952. UE-JH
Newbery Medal. Stories about the ancient Inca are few and far between, and this book does a great job filling the gap. You get a glimpse of the culture as you read of the mystery surrounding an Incan boy who lives in the Andes mountains of Peru.
Children of the Longhouse by Joseph Bruchac.
The story of a young boy in the Mohawk culture and his journey to manhood lets you see firsthand how his tribe saw the world and how they lived.
The Legend of the Bluebonnet: An Old Tale of Texas by Tomie dePaoloa. E-UE
An old Comanche legend celebrates the courage and selflessness of a young girl, giving a glimpse of the religious beliefs of this early American culture (pre-1500?).
Little Runner of the Longhouse (I Can Read Book) by Betty Baker, illus. Arnold Lobel. Harper & Row, 1962. K-E
A cute story of children and Iriquois culture. Three-color illustrations.
Little Yellow Fur by Wilma Pitchford Hays, illus. Richard Cuffari. Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, Inc., 1973. E-UE
This book is based on the author's experiences as a little girl growing up in South Dakota near an Indian reservation. A child wins the hearts of a neighboring tribe. An easy chapter book for UE, it also gives a glimpse into the homesteading life of the American pioneer in 1913.
North American Indians by Marie Gorsline, illus. Douglas W. Gorsline. K-E
Lots of colorful pictures and great information written just for the younger child.
by Jane Yolen, illus. Barry Moser. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1990. UE
A picture book telling the Blackfeet legend of their first experiences with horses. Written from the Blackfeet perspective, calling their deity "Old Man" and the horse "Sky Dog," and portraying their culture throughout the whole experience.
A Tree's Tale by Lark Carrier. Dial Books, 1996. K-E
The story of the "path trees" the Indians bent and used to mark their trails. Few are left in North America, and this is the story of one of them.