Pyramids! A book for Humanist kids

Book Review: Pyramids!

Ok – so I don’t normally do book reviews, but… this is a good book.  Pyramids! By Avery Hart and Paul Mantell is an activity book for children. The activities are really cool and fun to do. But the reason I wanted to write about it is because; some of the activities are philosophical in nature. Not only that, but they are most definitely Humanistic in Nature. On almost every page, there is an activity titled: Think About it. Right off the bat a book that focuses on making children think about differences is pretty cool. But what it asks kids to think about is what makes this book special.

In the section on Egyptian government the think about it sections ask kids to think about whether people would be happy if they were assured good weather, food, wise leaders and peace. Would that help make the place crime free? What about greed? Can even the most kind hearted and wise person could be trusted with ultimate power and whether a hierarchical society is fair to everyone.

On the section about the Nile, it talks about the Aswan dam and the fact the land now needs fertilizer to grow food and now it is poorer then it was. So was the dam a good idea? The section on the Rosetta Stone talks about Jean Champollion and his goals, so the think about it section states, “Setting goals makes your life easier because it gives you a measure of control. … Set a reasonable goal today and then think about how you can make it happen.”

But it is in the mummy section that this book really shines. Because the Egyptians believed you would only get to enjoy the afterlife if your soul was not eaten by Ahmet and that could only happen in your heart was lighter then the feather of Maat, you needed to be a good person. So the questions in this area are particularly deep. Think of a basic truth about being a good person, ask your friends to do the same and write up a guidebook for yourself about being a good person. It also has a curse of the mummy section and walks kids through critical thinking about the course allowing them to come to their own conclusions about whether it is true or not (though they heavily lean towards it not being true. The question here is “Do you believe everything you read in the newspapers or see on TV?” Seriously – this is a deep book.

And, as a bonus, it also shows you how to make an Egyptian crown, pop-up books, a nemes, amulets, Egyptian flatbread, how to play senet, build a pyramid and other interesting and cool things. All around, this is  a very cool and surprising book. There appear to be several books in the series written by Hart and Mantell – so whatever your child’s interest, you should be able to find a book for them.