A parent of a young child stopped by the library with a question this morning. She was reading to her child’s pre-school age classmates, and her son had requested a dinosaur story. We have oodles of dinosaur books – no problem there. But although there are many, that does not mean they all work as read-alouds for a group of 3 and 4 year old kids. First, the fact books are out. The fact that a Stygimoloch was covered in spines and horns does not make for a riveting story time.
As every school librarian knows, dinosaur nonfiction may be the most circulated set of books in the library. Of course, there are picture books featuring dinosaurs, but strangely enough, some of our most passionate dinosaur fans do not want to check out dinosaur books that “aren’t true.” It took me a while to understand why a five-year-old who can’t read enough about the eating habits of the Triceratops does not want a dinosaur story. Over time I realized that the whole point of reading the books is to be in control of something. At an age when almost every waking moment is controlled by a parent or teacher, the dinosaur facts are something they own. A picture book does many things, but it doesn’t give them facts to take out and toss around.
Of course, dinosaur picture books are still loved by all kinds of kids – dinosaur enthusiasts and kids who just enjoy a funny story. There are so many good ones that it is really ridiculous to try to select three, but since it’s Thursday, there is no choice.
Here are the three I suggested to the mother reading to her son’s class:
When Dinosaurs Came with Everything by Elise Broach
Gorgonzola: A Very Stinkysaurus by Margie Palatini
The Super Hungry Dinosaur by Martin Waddell