About Me

My name is Genevieve Woods and in addition to being the mother of an adorable preschooler named Oscar and his adorable toddler brother Henry, I am the Children's Buyer at Spellbinder Books, a small independent bookstore in Bishop, California. I am often asked by customers for recommendations...and thus the idea for this blog was sparked.

Many sites recommending books for kids are created by librarians and non-profits. While these are great sites, they often recommend out-of-print books. This site is all about the great books that are available now! While I am not being paid for these recommendations, I would appreciate it if readers would purchase the books I recommend from local independent bookstores, or even B&N. Basically don't buy from the evil empire (A_A_O_), because if you do much of our literary knowledge will be lost.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Dinosaur Books

Oscar, my preschooler, is obsessed with dinosaurs. Oscar came to this obsession in a somewhat round-about way, which I'll discuss at the end of this post, but for now let me just say that I encourage his dinosaur obsession whole heartily. In the last six months we have gone from two dinosaur books to 16.

Testing The Dino Waters

Maybe your child only kinda likes dinosaurs or maybe your child could care less and you want to encourage a dinosaur passion. If any of the above fits your family you don't want to shell out a lot of money for a big dinosaur encyclopedia - yet. Here are some good options for books you can purchase to encourage the dino romance.

Level Readers

 Level Readers are thin rectangular paperback books that generally retail for $3.99. Each book is assigned a reading level from 1 to 4. Ideally they exist to purchase for children who are starting to read on their own and their number is supposed to correspond to the child's reading ability. This is great for your child if they are indeed reading on their own, but you don't have to wait until your child can read to purchase level readers. They are a great source of fun non-fiction for preschoolers, and there are a lot of level readers about dinosaurs. I wouldn't worry too much about what level the book is; while some Level 1 Readers have a single word per page, others have multiple sentences; some Level 4 readers are divided into chapters, while others have a single paragraph on each page. Ideally you would look for a cover you like in a book store and scroll through the book to see if your kid would sit through it, but if you can't do that and you take a gamble you are only out $3.99. The odds are in your favor. This link will take you to a LIST of dino Level Readers.

Dinosaur Picture Books

These Picture Books feature dinosaurs, but you don't have to be a dino fanatic to appreciate the story. The joy your child feels when listening to the story could be transferred into a joy for dinosaurs; at least that is the hope.

by Carol Diggory Shields
illustrated by Scott Nash
This rockin', rollin' rhyme about a dinosaur dance party is not only fun for the kids, but it is witty enough to entertain the adults as well. Dance-o-holics will love it just as much as the Dino fans.

by Ian Whybrow
illustrated by Adrian Reynolds 
(Some editions of this book are titled Sammy and the Dinosaurs)
This is a sweet story about a little boy who finds a box of old dinosaurs in the attic, removes them to a bucket, and takes them everywhere he goes. It includes a multigenerational family, a single mother, and less than perfect sibling dynamics. Oscar adored this story, and for about three months we read it every day.

by Molly Idle
This tale of a tea party gone wrong combines proper wording with hysterically improper illustrations. The text will not be enough for younger readers, so be prepared to expand, but the older kids will understand perfectly. What I especially like about this dino-inclusive tale is its appeal to all genders. There aren't enough dinosaur books that feature female protagonists. If you know of some please pass your knowledge on in the comments. 

by Dennis Nolan
This tale of a boy going back through time to deliver a baby dinosaur to its family is endearing and fascinating. The concept of time is such a part of the story it makes the story as a whole seem endless. It's just beautiful.

You Have A Dino Fan On Your Hands:

Once your child has truly gotten the dinosaur bug you are going to need something more substantial than a level reader or picture book story. To satiate the dinosaur lust you are going to need something more encyclopedic in nature.

The Biggest Bang for Your Buck

These books won't break the bank, but they will give your dino fanatic enough to chew on to be a good meal.
by Jerry Pallotta
illustrated by Ralph Masiello  
26+ Dinosaurs with corresponding dino facts, and fantastic illustrations. You learn your alphabet, and you scratch your dinosaur itch. Perfect!

by David Burnie
Part of the Kingfisher Navigators series.
This thin but large paperback explains fossil creation & excavation, dinosaur biology & sociology, and the end of their world, all with outstanding graphics and illustrations.

by DK Publishing
This small hardcover has 147 pages of dinosaur knowledge (not including the glossary or index). It also has more dino illustrations than I can count; there can be as many as four illustrations of different dinosaurs on a single page. It covers a lot so don't expect any in depth knowledge on any one species, but considering it's price (currently the book retails for $7.99) you're getting a spanking deal.

Your Child Deserves the Best, Give it

 You could of course buy your child a fantastic hardcover Dinosaur Encyclopedia that can be passed on to your grandchildren. Sure more knowledge will be gained by that time, but my family has been joyfully looking at a Dinosaur encyclopedia from the early 90s, because even though it is 20 years old, the dinosaurs are even older. Here is a list of the numerous beautiful Dinosaur Encyclopedias you can invest in.

Best Dinosaur Gifts

If you're heading to a birthday party or need a treat for a trip these books are sure to be a dinorific hit!

by Matthew Reinhart
This small  interactive paperback pop-up book is loads of fun. Kids can tug the T-Rex tail to make it roar and more! And because the book is inexpensive hearts will not be broken if pieces get torn, but thankfully the book is made of some pretty thick paper.

by Sarah Creese & Tracy Hare
They are dinosaurs and they are in 3-D. It is hard to be any cooler than that.
Color and Play Dinosaurs
by Silver Dolphin
This sets includes a surprisingly good book, colored pencils, and 4 cardboard puzzle dinosaurs you can color by number and put together. My son and his 9 year old cousin had a great time coloring the puzzle dinosaurs and my son loves to play with them. The T-Rex is always eating the other dinosaurs arms off. The book has surprisingly in-dept information about 15 different dinosaurs, and includes a map showing where the dinosaurs fossils have been found. That's my favorite, the maps. As maps go they are pretty basic, but they are great for the younger set. 

AGES 5-10
Dinosaurs Sticker Encyclopedia
by DK Publishing
These sticker encyclopedias are fun. The pages have shadows on them where the stickers go and you have to match the right sticker up with the right shadow. Each sticker has a description next to it, so when you are done you get a paperback encyclopedia. Of course you also get some extra stickers and play scenes to fool around with, so it isn't all learning. 

by Robert Sabuda & Matthew Reinhart
If you like dinosaurs, you are going to like a dinosaur pop-up book. Sabuda and Reinhart are masters of paper art and they do not disappoint.  

by Jon Richards
Build your own model T.Rex - pretty cool! 

Recommended Watching

Clearly my family loves books, but we do watch T.V. I will never argue that T.V. is better than a book, but I can say that my son has learned a lot from the dinosaur documentaries he loves:

Walking with Monsters
Walking with Dinosaurs
Walking with Beasts
Chased by Dinosaurs
Chased by Sea Monsters

Recommended Toys

Go out and buy some dinosaur models. The quality doesn't matter, your kids won't care. Oscar loves the little bag of cheap party favor dinos almost as much as our fancy Safari brand hand-painted replicas. But if YOU care Safari is a good brand, it is expensive, but all the good brands are expensive. Look around garage sales for model dinosaurs, check out Ross or other discount stores. You are going to find better deals in stores than you will online. The toys help, Oscar loves to hold a toy dinosaur while reading a book about dinosaurs. He loves playing with his dinosaurs, it's like playing dolls, but cooler.

Our Path to Dinosaur Fanatics

My son Oscar loves sharks. One day while I was working at the bookstore someone brought in a box of used books that included an adult book on prehistoric ocean monsters. Because Oscar liked sharks I thought he would like the book, so I bought it and took it home. HE LOVED IT, and he loves it still. We looked at the pictures, we read the little boxes, and finally we just started reading the the whole book, chapter by chapter, cover to cover It was loved not just by Oscar, but also by me and my husband. For the first time I was learning about prehistory, about the earth, the air and the sea BEFORE the dinosaurs. For the first time I started to understand that we were just a speck of life on this planet, one little dot in a long line of creatures and events that started long before we arrived and would continue long after were gone. I found that knowledge liberating, and I encouraged Oscars obsession with our prehistoric past not only for his gain, but also for mine. Months later we discovered that the book we all loved was based on a documentary (it is amazing that it took us this long to figure that out). We watched the documentary, LOVED IT and became even more entrenched in our new found prehistoric passion.