Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Dinosaur Books for Kids

Dinosaur Books for Kids
by Susan Stephenson,

Some kids love trucks and diggers. They play with toy versions, want to read about them, dream about them, and make brrrm noises in their sleep. Same goes for dinosaurs. Kids who become interested in dinosaurs practically inhale information about them. If you know a young dinosaur fan or ten, here are some books to consider (plus links below to other great online dinosaur resources):

Walking with Dinosaurs: Dinopedia
I first mentioned Walking with Dinosaurs: Dinopedia before Christmas, in Last Minute Christmas Book Ideas. It was written by Steve Brusatte, published in Australia by Pan Macmillan, and features many stills from the 3D movie, Walking with Dinosaurs.

This is a serious text. Don’t let the movie link fool you. It first establishes a geological context, goes on to discuss all sorts of interesting aspects of palaeontology and then the always fascinating dinosaurs in general. I like the way the book is interspersed with introductions to adults who study dinosaurs, showing children the genuine career possibilities for their obsession interest. I appreciate Brusatte’s emphasis on sharing up-to-date, nitty-gritty facts - the sorts of things kids want to know, like dinosaur weaponry and armour.

Tying books to movies is not only a clever marketing ploy, it makes good sense for parents and teachers too. Kids who've seen a movie like Walking with Dinosaurs may be keen to extend the experience by finding an accompanying book. Young readers can often be helped by the movie - it may put the book into context for them, help them recognise images and decode words. (For kids under 11, be prepared to help them out with reading.) Above all, such books can help kids feel positive towards books. For some kids, that's a HUGE plus.

Robert Irwin Dinosaur Hunter
While the Dinopedia above is a non-fiction book, the Robert Irwin Dinosaur Hunter books are fiction, with lots of facts interspersed throughout the narrative. Written by Jack Wells and illustrated by Lachlan Creagh, and published by Random House Australia (2013), there are eight books in the series:

1. Robert Irwin Dinosaur Hunter 1: The Discovery
2. Robert Irwin Dinosaur Hunter 2: Ambush at Cisco Swamp
3. Robert Irwin Dinosaur Hunter 3: Armoured Defence
4. Robert Irwin Dinosaur Hunter 4: The Dinosaur Feather
5. Robert Irwin Dinosaur Hunter 5: Call of the Wild
6. Robert Irwin Dinosaur Hunter 6: Dino Champions
7. Robert Irwin Dinosaur Hunter 7: Dinosaur Cove
8. Robert Irwin Dinosaur Hunter 8: Eruption!

These are junior novels, short chapter books with large print and occasional full page sketches for kids to enjoy. Each adventure involves Steve Irwin’s son, Robert, travelling back in time to engage with a dinosaur. There’s plenty of action and enough -raptor and -saurus to keep any young dinosaur fan happy!

For those kids who aren’t looking for fiction, there’s also the Big Book of Dinosaurs by Robert Irwin. If you’d like a peek inside, the Random House website has a great free sample.

More Dinosaur Fiction

RAWR by Todd H. Doodler, published by Scholastic Inc, (2013) RRP$14.99 Rawr is a very reassuring children’s picture book that explains the advantages and disadvantages of being a dinosaur who attends school. Young kids will love the cute puffy dinosaur on the front cover, and appreciate the humour within its pages. The simple and colourful illustrations help make this a great read-aloud. Best of all, by the end of the tale, children will know how to speak dinosaur!

The Little Dinosaur by Catriona Hoy, illustrated by Andrew Plant, and published by Working Title Press (Penguin) 2012. I reviewed it last year. It’s a thoroughly researched and fact-based fiction story, with realistic art in the illustrations.

Dinosaur Farm by Frann Preston-Gannon was published in Australia by Koala Books (Scholastic) 2013, RRP $14.99, and in the UK by Pavilion Children's. It’s such a lot of fun, and superbly illustrated. Kids will enjoy pondering the pitfalls of looking after a farm-full of dinosaurs, and giggle about their exasperating antics.

“Jack and his pet dino-dog get up early each morning to tend to the duties on the dinosaur farm. First the pterodactyl eggs need collecting. Then the triceratops need to be let out to graze. Of course the diplodocus need a good scrub after their mud bath – they do get very messy! As the day goes on, Jack becomes more battered and bruised by his encounters – the pterodactyl were not the most co-operative when it came to collecting their eggs, the diplodocus’s bath time was a bit more exciting than it was meant to be and the boisterous tricerotops sent him flying as they rushed out of their pen! Exhausted after his daily chores, Jack collapses into bed.

But wait! Did he close the gate to the T-Rex pen?!”

A Wonderful Dinosaur Resource

The Smithsonian has a great interactive, a virtual dinosaur dig, where kids can find and excavate a virtual fossil, then discover more about it. You'll find more online resources in Children’s Learning - Dinosaurs. You may also like to read: Letter to the BookChook - Dinosaur Books.

Find more Children's Book Reviews on The Book Chook by clicking Reviews in the right sidebar.

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