Thursday, June 30, 2011

Letter to the BookChook - Dinosaur Books

Dear The Book Chook,

My son loves dinosaurs. Can you recommend some good dinosaur books for me to buy him?

Aden's mum, Victoria

Dear Aden's mum,

My short answer is no. Please read on for my explanation.

I haven't read any dinosaur books recently to recommend to you. However, I did some research and found some dinosaur books that I would like to read, and that Aden might enjoy. I like the Dorling Kindersley books, and they have several dinosaur books.

Walker Books is one of my favourite publishers. They have Boy, Were We Wrong About Dinosaurs and Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Dinosaurs. I also found several fiction books about dinosaur characters, but I suspect you want non-fiction for your young dino-boy!

You don't say how old Aden is. Some good non-fiction books are designed for children to read independently, but even if he's not at school yet, he can benefit from such books. He can look at the pictures by himself; you can read him snippets of the text, or ignore the text and just talk about the illustrations with him. Also, he may be of an age to think picture books are for babies. They're not! Aden may even find that a great dinosaur picture book inspires him to do some research, writing and drawing of his own, culminating in producing his own picture book.

If Aden were my son, here's what I would do. First of all, I'd go to my local library. I'd talk to the children's librarian and ask if she can point out some dinosaur books. Budget cuts might mean she's busy wrangling books, so I'd check in the non-fiction area (around 567.9 on the shelf signs) and also the picture book area. I'd encourage my son to take a look at the books, and suggest he might like to borrow some. Then I'd make sure we shared those books over the coming days, with me reading excerpts aloud, and my son having unlimited access to the books (okay, maybe not in the bath!) I wouldn't buy any books at all for my son until he had a chance to check out several books and find ones he liked.

That's the great thing about libraries, you can try before you buy. Once Aden finds books he loves, you can decide which ones to buy for him. It's such a great idea for kids to own their own books as well as to have a library card. Owned books are read over and over, one of the important preliminary steps to independent reading. If you can't afford book shop prices, you may find some good books at markets, second-hand stores etc. I have it on excellent authority that quality hardback picture books for children can be picked up very reasonably at garage sales.

In case it helps, Aden's mum, next week I have an article with some online resources about dinosaurs that Aden might like.

Readers, if you know of any dinosaur books you would recommend, please mention them in comments.

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