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The Gift of Corn - Books and Activities

Explore the golden grain that has been the staple of civilizations for thousands of years.

Corn has played an important role in the lives of early American Indian cultures. From the Aztecs of Mexico, the Maya of Central America, and the Incas in South America, corn was central to the growth of civilizations. When Christopher Columbus encountered the Arawaks in the West Indies, Native Americans were growing corn from what is now Canada through to South America. its was grown in a variety of types, sizes, and colors. The Arawaks called corn mais, which can be loosely translated to mean, "the stuff of life."

When Columbus returned to Spain, he brought corn with him and introduced it to Europe. Within the span of a hundred years, corn made a journey around the world. Throughout the years, corn has remained the grain of the Americas.

Did you know that the cotton in our clothing is strengthened with cornstarch? This is one of the amazing uses of corn. Many sodas, flavored drinks, and snacks are sweetened with corn syrup. Animals are fed corn and it is included in pet food. There are over 1,000 items made from corn of corn by-products.

Of course few things can match the taste of fresh corn on the cob! We freeze and can corn to enjoy all year long. Corn is grown in more countries than any other crop.

Corny Books
Share these pop-ular books with your patrons.

Corn is Maize: The Gift of the Indians, by Aliki
Popcorn, corn on the cob, cornbread -- and corncob pipes! Tacos and tamales and tortillas! All these and many other good things come from an amazing plant that the Indians discovered and taught the white man how to grow.

The Popcorn Book, by Tomie de Paola
An excellent combination of facts and folktales about popcorn. This book will share the wonderful history of popcorn in a way that will keep young readers enthralled.

The Popcorn Dragon, by Jane Thayer
You could hardly blame Dexter, ordinarily a well-behaved young dragon, for showing off when he suddenly found that he could make clouds of smoke. The temptation is irresistible, but Dexter quickly becomes insufferable. First he watches his own reflection in the river in order to admire the smoke. Then he puffs it in the faces of his friends: the zebra, the giraffe, and the elephant. He even blows smoke rings around his own tail to prove how clever he is. Soon Dexter has no friends left. He is a very lonely dragon indeed, until quite by accident he discovers a way his talent can be used to win back his playmates.

Cam Jansen and the Mystery of the Stolen Corn Popper, by David A. Adler
When a customer at Binky's Department Store realizes that his shopping bag--containing a newly-purchased corn popper--has been stolen, Cam and Eric put their school shopping on hold to help catch the thief. Another great addition to this mystery series featuring "Cam" Jansen, the girl with a photographic memory.

Additional Article of Interest: Native Americans Past and Present

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