Sunday, 23 September 2012

Paleontology books for children . Dinosaur books for older children.

With my oldest son - age 7 dreaming of becoming a paleontologist, and my youngest - age 4 absolutely crazy about dinosaurs we have collected a vast array of dinosaur and palaeontology related resources. I have written a more detailed review for many of these and have included links where possible.  These are some of our favourites:

Prehistoric - DK
This is technically an adult's book but written in such a way as to have value for all ages. This is an absolute must have item for any child or adult with a serious interest in prehistoric life beyond dinosaurs - although it has plenty on dinosaurs as well. We bought this specifically for information on plants and insects and have started our own prehistoric garden as a result of reading this. It is, without a doubt, the most extensive and beautifully illustrated book available to laymen on the prehistory.
Please see my complete review @

Dinosaurs: A Visual Encyclopedia /Dinosaurs a children's Encyclopedia- DK publishing

This book was printed in 2011 and represents the absolute state of the art in both the science of paleontology and in the creation and photography of realistic dinosaur models. The name however, is a bit of a misnomer. This would be better named the Prehistoric Encyclopedia - but DK also has another, even larger book with this title. If by chance you  will find some repetition, but this is much more child friendly format.. This tome has a total of 304 pages. Of these pages the combined section for birds and dinosaurs is only 98 pages. This book begins The early earth void of life and continues with bacteria, invertebrates, all manner of aquatic life, insects, amphibians and the first reptiles. Then we will move onto the dinosaur section and finally the mammals including early man. The amount of information in this book is staggering. It is written for the older child or adult - but even my 4 year old enjoys this book. One of the very best, most extensive books on prehistoric history in print. All ages but written at an adult reading level.

Paleontology: The Study of Prehistoric Life - Susan Heinrichs Gray

There are thousands and thousands of dinosaur books for children, but there are honestly are not very many specifically on paleontology. This book is not really about dinosaurs. it is about the science and history of the study of dinosaurs. This book tells us what fossils are, what a paleontologist does and how they do it. This is small inexpensive and easy to read book. At age 7 my son can read this easily, but there is enough information to interest even an adult. ages 6 - 14

Bones Rock!: Everything You Need to Know to be a Paleontologist - Peter L. Larson

This is the book for budding paleontologists. no other book comes close to this in terms of the amount of information - not so much on dinosaurs but on the science of Paleontology  and yet remains easily accessible by children. This tells us what a paleontologist does, what methods they use, how theories are formed - and disputed. The book begins, not with dinosaurs, but with science. The book explains how science works. It presents science, not as a set of facts, but of theories and ideas that are subject to change. Science becomes a living and fluid thing rather than a stuffy set facts to memorise. Reading this book, I can almost forget how much I hated science as a child with some teachers. This is not an adult text, like 'Walking With Dinosaurs', nor a child's text, like 'Eyewonder Dinosaur'. different sites have listed this as ages 9-12 and 10 -14. I would say it would be very suitable for ages 8 -14.

Scientists At Work - Dinosaur Hunters Paleontologists
 This book is published by Heinemann books -  a company known for educational materials. I believe their primary market is schools and libraries, but they do sell to individual customers - and offer home educators schools rates. Like most of my books though, this was purchased from Amazon. This is another specialist book. It doesn't really tell you anything about living dinosaurs. This focuses only on fossil remains and the discovery, excavation, preservation, identification, restoration and study of these remains. This gives a child an honest look at what is like to be a palaeontologist, as well as what type of studies will be required to enter the field. It as an excellent resource for the child very serious about palaeontology, but not as useful for the younger child just wanted to learn a little a bit about dinosaurs. I would place the reading level at ages 7 -8, bearing in mind there will be a number of long and difficult words related to this field. I would expect this book to have been written for ages  8 -12, but would still recommend this for teenagers considering a career in palaeontology.

Bone Sharps, Cowboys, and Thunder Lizards
Graphic novel style book detailing the bone wars between Cope and Marsh. Reading level - ages 7+ .  A brilliant idea but can be difficult to follow. Recommended to older readers and those with a serious interest in Paleontology.

Dinosaur Detectives - DK Readers Level 4
Well written easy to read book on paleontology for ages 7 - 14.

Dinosaur Hunters - Step Into Reading Level 4
All about how fossils are formed and collected. A lot of material about Jim Jensen aka "Dinosaur Jim" a modern palaeontologist - some info on Cope and Marsh and Gideon Mantell. Ages 7 -14.

I-Spy Minerals, Rocks and Fossils
Very inexpensive handbook for British fossil hunters - should apply to Ireland as well - or at least so I have been told by the local museum. Reading level  - 8+

DK Rock and Fossil Hunter
Some information on collecting and identifying rocks and fossils, but this is primarily a book of experiments and hands on activities which teach about geology and paleontology. Ideal for home educators or families who really enjoy experiments and projects. Ages 6 - 12 but will require some parental assistance.

Make Your Own Dinosaur Out of Chicken Bones -  Christopher McGowan
We are just starting on this one - and saving up the required bones- so I can not say how well it works. However it is very well written book with plenty of information about how real dinosaur skeletons. Ages 8+

Encyclopedia Prehistorica Dinosaurs - Robert Clarke Sabuda

These pop ups are among the best I have ever seen, the book is also extremely well written and would be an excellent book, even without the pop ups. The information is detailed, yet easy to understand. It mentions the fact that sometimes paleontologists get it wrong. It includes the famous blunder in which iguanodons spiked thumb was originally thought to go on it's nose. After reading this book, a child will have a pretty good basic knowledge of paleontology as well as knowing the three periods within the Mesozoic Era (Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous), about fossils and the main types of dinosaurs as well as a few of the best known species. They will have an idea of size and scale of many of these beasts, as well as how they lived and the prevalent theories on how they died. That is a lot of information for 12 pages!

Encyclopedia Prehistorica Sharks and Other Sea Monsters - Robert Clarke Sabuda
Prehisoric sea life.

Encyclopedia Prehistorica Mega-Beasts - Matthew Reinhart
Prehistoric mammals

Planet Dinosaur: The next Generation of Giant Killers (Natural History)
Excellent book with stunning photos and the very latest discoveries. Written an adult age level, but both of my sons - ages 4 and 7 enjoy this with an adult reading most of it - or just to browse the beautiful photographs.

The Magic School Bus in the Time of the Dinosaurs - Joanna Cole

This book is recommended for ages 4-8, but I feel this still has a lot to offer the older child, especially in the home education setting. This makes science very easy to understand and has excellent ideas for projects to do at home.

"Walking with Dinosaurs": A Natural History - Tim Haines
Adult reading level but can be used for younger children with an adult to help.

"Walking with Dinosaurs": The Evidence - How Did They Know That
The facts behind the series and book. Well written plenty of photographs, would best suits ages 8+ as this is written at an adult reading level.

Ultimate Book of Dinosaurs - John Malam

Rise of the Reptiles (Prehistoric animals)
Life before the dinosaurs - Permian reptiles age 8 -10 +

When Fish Got Feet, Sharks Got Teeth, and Bugs Began to Swarm: A Cartoon Prehistory of Life Long Before Dinosaurs
Fun easy to understand cartoon style history of life from the dawn of life through the Devonian period.

T Rex - Uncover it - Dennis Schatz and Davide Bonadonna
 This one is fun for all ages. It has a large plastic model inside detailing the skeleton, internal organs, nervous system etc.... Of course much of this is speculation, but this is clearly stated, as well as how they used living animals to guess at what T- Rex's internal structure may have been like. Perfect for children who love to touch and feel as they explore books, plenty of good information as well.

DK I Can Draw Dinosaurs
Ages 6+ . Simple easy to follow instructions to draw your own dinosaurs.

Super Crocs & Monster Wings: Modern Animals' Ancient Past
 This one wasn't as exciting as we had hoped. There is almost nothing with dinosaurs, but if you like dragonflies - this is your book. There is quite a bit of material on Meganeura, as well as information on modern dragonflies. There is also a good section on crocodilian, a section on how a fossil is formed and a much larger section on prehistoric and modern reptiles. This book also lists 7 mass extinction events. This is something that concerned my children  - if life on earth has been almost totally eradicated 7 times - what's to say it won't happen again? Recommended for ages 8+.

Dinosaur (DK Revealed)
Like most DK books, this is well written, well illustrated and packed with useful information. What makes this book different from the rest is the addition of transparent overlays. These allow you to look inside an egg - or a dinosaur and were a great hit with my children. I believe exploring and playing with books is a key component to developing literacy and this is just the type of book to encourage children to touch, feel, look at and explore.

Dinosaur Atlas Book - Malam, John
Who says geography is boring? Learn about the continents, other countries and more while learning about dinosaurs. This book provides wonderful maps with locations of fossil finds, but it also has detailed information on dinosaurs, transparent overlays and top notch illustrations. Recommended for all ages.

Dead Dinosaurs : (The Knowledge)
This is a paperback book - something like the Horrible Science series. It takes a light hearted and entertaining but highly informative look a dinosaurs and palaeontology. Illustrations are limited, cartoon style and black and white only but the text is far more in depth than most books. Recommended for ages 8+, but my 7 year old has really enjoyed this, so I would recommend this for slightly younger  children if they are proficient readers and they have a significant interest in this field.