By far, everyone's favorite book was this one:
My Amazon River Day
I'm sorry there's no picture of it, it appears to be out of print but there are some reasonably priced used copies on Amazon.com. Thankfully, our library had it. The book chronicles a day in the life of a family that lives on a tributary of the Amazon through great photos and the words of the 10-year-old daughter, Patricia. Her brothers spear fish and climb TALL trees for fruit, they wash dishes and drink out of the (muddy) river and there are no walls in their house. My kids found it fascinating. I had Z-Man go through it twice after we read it - once to tell me how their lives differ from his and once to find the similarities. It was pretty eye-opening for him. (Everyone's clothed, by the way.)
We also enjoyed this one:
This was written by a biologist and is not a story book but the content is so interesting that it held Z-Man's attention. I'm sure the fact that we got to have chocolate in conjunction with it helped too. After learning about plants that help heal (and plants that hurt!), we watched this online video about jungle survival:
For elementary aged kids, I don't think you can beat the A to Z series:
Lots of great photos and a different interesting topic on each page.
Z-Man and I investigated the Yanomami people, who live in the rainforest around the Brazil/Venezuela border. First, we read about them in Window on the World:
which gave us good information from a Christian perspective. We also watched this youtube slide show which I assume is the work of someone on a missions trip because the soundtrack is a really pretty version of "How Deep the Father's Love For Us."
And then we read a REALLY exciting book (as in, a little too exciting for younger children) being the fictional but very convincing account of eleven year old Alex, who survived a plane crash and was taken in by the Yanomami. The illustrations are just great. It's the boy's journal and there are both photos and his drawings and, in one instance, the drawings of some children who had never seen paper and pencils. There is a lot of great information told from an American kid's perspective, great photos of the Yanomami (people are NOT clothed, just so you know), a heroic rescue and even prayers to God for rescue and help although I don't know if the authors are Christian. It does show a tendency toward violence but no actual violence and it shows a tendency toward the mistreatment of girls and women but no disturbing images. There are, however, photos and drawings of their "religious practices" which the boy first finds scary and then beautiful. I explained to Z-Man what spirits they were calling out to and that they were using drugs and he didn't think it was so beautiful.
I went back and forth on this one, but, in the end, I was glad we read it. I will say though, that I wouldn't have read it to Z-Man last year.
We read about Nate Saint in this book:
which is written in a rhyming style which the boys didn't seem to mind. I do wish I had found a more in-depth book on this for Z-Man.
And, of course, we had a plethora of animal books, like this one:
which is great because it's divided by biomes and has gorgeous pictures.
Last, but not least, we watched good old Jack Hannah: Zoo Life - Wonders of the Rainforest which is a VHS tape and apparently so old that I can't even find a picture of it. Ah well.
If you've stayed with me to the end of this long, long post, I thank you! I'll try to post some pictures of Z-Man's lapbook over the weekend and then we'll be heading to Mexico!