Before traveling to Belize or while you are here, reading is a great way to engage in the wonders of all things Belize. There’s something to read for all ages, and for young travelers, reading is a great way to introduce them to a new culture and excite them for their next adventure. There are countless books to recommend, but here are a few we have enjoyed. Be you on a plane headed to Belize or enjoying beachside relaxation with a good book, through the pages, you are sure to be entertained while discovering an appreciation for our unique country and culture. Forgot to bring a book? If you are in San Pedro, 12 Belize has a lovely collection for all ages.

The Caye Boy series – Jessica Retseck Wigh, illustrated by Andrew Young
Toddler and up

My Beautiful Belize has followed this charming series since 2015. The author, Jessica Retseck Wigh, has been coming to Belize since 2002 and compiled all her memories and experiences of Caye Caulker Village into a series of children’s books. In an interview with the author, Wigh explained that she wanted to embrace the basic idea of growing up in Belize. Caye Boy and his brother enjoy the independence of living on an island, and in the series, their adventures include the challenges of kite flying and the fun of exploring the jungle on mainland Belize. Playfully illustrated, these colorful books are sure to entertain your little one.

Heart of a Jaguar – Marc Talbert
12 years and up
Many years ago, before an adventure to Belize, our preteen son read Heart of a Jaguar. Often an age that is hard to inspire, our son enthusiastically embraced our visits to Maya Archaeological sites after devouring this book about an adolescent Maya and his challenges of the time. His imagination was ignited by the story of young Balam, and standing within the compound of an ancient civilization surrounded by stone temples fueled his interest in a history he may have otherwise found boring. Although the book includes topics such as human sacrifice, the content is sensitively written.

Time and the River – Zee Edgell
Adult reading
Belizean-born American writer Zee Edgell published four novels. In her final book, Time and River, the main character, Leah Lawson, 18, is an enslaved person in mid to late 19th century Belize (the colony of British Honduras wasn’t formed until 1862). The story traces her rise in stature to enslaver, continuing the tradition of female protagonists in Edgell’s works. In dreaming of a better future, Leah must make some difficult choices. Her life takes drastic turns, changing her from a slave into a mistress and forcing her to take the lives of her family and best friend into her own hands. The book includes an interesting glossary of the Creole idioms used in the story and weaves the historic Battle of Saint Georges Caye into one of the subplots.

How to Cook a Tapir: A Memoir of Belize – Joan Fry
Adult reading
This engaging memoir, including local recipes, recounts the year (1962) when the young author lived with her new, aspiring anthropologist husband in British Honduras (now Belize). Isolated in a remote Kekchi village in southern Belize, the rustic lifestyle she experiences gives appreciation to modern living. Fast friendships with her neighbors help her navigate her new life, from washing clothes in the river, teaching the village children, preparing wild game, and sleeping in hammocks all become a way of life for her. Over time, she learns to appreciate this foreign culture and even fears for their future.

Jaguar: One Man’s Struggle To Establish The World’s First Jaguar Preserve – Alan Rabinowitz
Adult reading
If you are lucky enough to explore mainland Belize or plan to in the future, the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary in the Stann Creek District of south-central Belize is extraordinary. Jaguar dates back to the rustic years of the early 1980s, when zoologist Alan Rabinowitz ventured into the rain forest of Belize, determined to study the little-known jaguar in its natural habitat and to establish the world’s first jaguar preserve. He vividly shares the rewards and challenges of living in the jungle with the Maya within an abandoned logging camp. From bug bites to poisonous snakes and tracking the elusive jaguar, the descriptions of his many hardships are captivating. Dr. Rabinowitz, who passed away in 2018, established the world’s first jaguar preserve in Belize’s Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary in 1986. He went on to help create seven major protected areas worldwide.

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About the Author: Tamara Sniffin

I’m a sucker for a fuzzy face, a feathered face, a face with fins or even one with scales! I am in love with the creatures and the flora that are synonymous with Belize and every opportunity I have to learn more about them and explore their wild habitats I am there! I’m the happiest when I’m snorkeling the reef and swimming with turtles, however my passion is not just limited to critters! Laced throughout this compact jungle gem of a country live the Kriol, Maya, Garifuna, Mestizo and Spanish people, and experiencing each culture, especially their celebrations is one of my favorite pastimes.

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