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Monday, 4 August 2014

Dinosaurs anyone?

Do you have a young person in your life who can never get enough information about dinosaurs? I certainly do.

Having spent a great deal of this year with Gabriel, I have developed a much more extensive knowledge of dinosaurs themselves and of the books available.  I know which ones I enjoy sharing and which ones make me inwardly groan when I realise that’s the one he wants to share this time.

So what do I like? And which ones does my 6 year old really like?
Let’s start with my choices.

The Big Book of Dinosaurs by Dougal Dixon. (TickTock, 2013)
This includes questions and answers using language accessible for primary aged students. There’s information on discoveries, dinosaurs in movies, prehistoric periods and lots of fascinating snippets. It’s got a great layout, and lots of ‘white space’. It looks different with each turn of the page which encourages the young reader to return again and again. It includes glossary and index.

Everything You Need to Know about Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Creatures (Dorling Kindersley and the Smithsonian Institute, 2014)
The layout is similar to the book above, with a wide variety of text boxes and clear and interesting illustrations. The chapters look at themes rather than individual dinosaurs and meet the interest needs of the slightly older reader which is supported by a slightly smaller font.  It includes glossary and index.

Pawpawsaurus and Other Armored Dinosaurs by Dougal Dixon (Dinosaur Find series published by Picture Window Books, 2008)
This is one of a great series of books about dinosaurs written for the slightly younger reader.  This one is about armoured dinosaurs. One of the features I like is the size comparison with a person but also animals today which have similar defences. The font is clear and large but though the language and sentence structure is simple it is not simplistic. There is a glossary, where to find more information in books and one web address (which is still active) and an index.

How the Dinosaur Got to the Museum by Jessie Hartland (Blue Apple, 2011)
I have mentioned this one before and it has maintained my interest over a long period. It’s the story of how the bones of a diplodocus got to the Smithsonian Museum, told in a “House that Jack Built” style which allows the young reader to interact.  It introduces palaeontology-type jobs as well as describing the journey of this giant fossil .

How do Dinosaurs …? By Jane Yolen (Scholastic, various years)
This is a great series of stories for younger readers. Each book introduces a few dinosaurs (well-known as well as lesser known) and their actions in answer to the question of the title. I really enjoy How do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? and How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? But there are others I could happily write about too.

And my grandson’s recommendations?
The ones above are current favourites but also:

Dinosaurs on My Street by David West (Firefly, 2013)
Imagine dinosaurs wandering through city streets at the same as modern man and his machinery. Gabriel enjoys the juxtaposition of time, the occasional puns and the brief facts included. At the back of the book is a list of all 30 dinosaurs included and details about them.
Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff (I Can Read series. First published 1958 and in print ever since)
This is a great beginning reader, full of humour and quirky explanations of modern life. When Danny visits the museum and says “Wouldn’t it be nice to play with a dinosaur” he doesn’t expect the answer he got from the dinosaur who wants to play together. Also check out the other books in the series.

There’s a Diplodocus at the Door by Aleksei Bitskoff & Ruth Symons (QED Publishing, 2013) and other books in the same series.
This series aimed at pre-schoolers imagines 4 dinosaurs in modern settings and how they would cope with life. Through this imaginative journey facts about the dinosaur are given and what the impact would be on our current environment. The other books are about a tyrannosaurus rex, stegosaurus and triceratops.

Of course, the list could be considerably longer than this. I have restrained myself so that I don’t wear out my welcome. What are your young person’s favourites? Please let us know.

Maureen Mann

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