Like all young children, Frida is pretty varied in her interests – from mice to microbes, she has a voracious appetite for learning new things. But every now and again, a topic comes along which leaves very little space in our reading for anything else. At the moment we are in the middle of such a phase, centred around dinosaurs and extending out to fossils, evolution, reptiles, and prehistoric life.
Until recently, Frida had no interest whatsoever in dinosaurs, and I wasn’t hugely surprised. They can be quite intangible for young children – there are no photos to look at, none to observe in zoos or parks, no Attenborough-narrated footage to watch together. So it wasn’t a topic I was planning on introducing to her, but after reading a book about a young palaeontologist (see below) Frida was totally hooked, and I had to quickly search out some books to meet her interest. Here are a selection that of beautiful books that we have been really loving, in the hope that if you’re caught off guard like I was then this list will make it easier for you!
Stone Girl Bone Girl: The Story of Mary Anning of Lyme Regis – this was the book that sparked Frida’s current fascination with all things dinosaurs and fossils. It’s a brilliant picture book that tells the story of young palaeontologist Mary Anning and her discovery of the Ichthyosaur. We recently went to London’s Natural History Museum where many of Anning’s fossils are on display – a very special moment.
Atlas of Dinosaur Adventures – this is one of Frida’s favourite books ever; since she discovered an interest in dinosaurs I think I have been asked to read it every day since. It’s to this book’s credit that I’m not bored of it yet! It’s excellent, and I would really recommend it for any dino-fan. FYI, it’s a big hardback.
Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Creatures – this beautiful book is a joy to look at, and another great read for any dinosaur fans. We have read it a few times, but it’s rare that I’m allowed to put down Atlas of Dinosaur adventures (above) down for long enough to pick it up!
Dino-Dinners – I really like this one. It’s a paperback so we can read it easily in one sitting, and a good range of information is included about each dinosaur too. I’m very happy with it.
Fossils Tell Stories – Frida’s interest in dinosaurs has also understandably led to an interest in fossils, and this picture book is a wonderful introduction to the topic.
Fossil – this is a fantastic accompaniment to learning about fossils in picture books. Some of the information is too detailed for Frida’s age, but it’s great having some real photos of fossils to look at.
The Story of Life: A First Book about Evolution – it’s been a very natural progression from learning about dinosaurs to wanting to know more about evolution in general, and how the world and its creatures has changed. This book is SO GOOD and belongs on every child’s bookshelf, making a hugely complex topic accessible for young children – no matter how you believe evolution came to take place.
The Story of Life: Evolution – this is still too complex really for Frida but the pictures are great for exploring together, especially alongside other books.
The Pebble in My Pocket: A History of Our Earth – this book looks at how the world was formed from the perspective of a pebble. The concept of the earth being formed and life beginning is one I’m sure many (most?) adults struggle to get their heads around, but again this book brings this to life beautifully.
Grandmother Fish – this is a fantastically simple book introducing the concept of evolution, showing how we evolved over hundreds of millions of years from a fish-like creature to modern humans. There is more detailed information for parents and teachers at the back too.
Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles – talking about evolution and dinosaurs and early reptiles led us to talking more about reptiles in general, and I really like basing our learning around a story rather than just reference-style non-fiction books as I find this brings the topic to life so much more. This tells the story of Joan Procter who I will readily admit to knowing nothing about prior to this book. What an amazing woman!
Really Remarkable Reptiles – this is the perfect accompaniment to learn more about our reptilian friends. This beautiful book is quite a new release, and it is just packed full of information alongside gorgeous illustrations.
Natural World: A Visual Compendium of Wonders from Nature – this is a brilliant general book about nature, and we turn to it often when reading about a certain type of animal.
The Natural History Book – I feel like I am forever posting about this books because it is SO good. Seriously, every family could do with one of these amazing reference books, whether they are homeschooling or not. We use it all the time.
Woolly Mammoth – finally, the interest in dinosaurs has led to an interest in other prehistoric life, including woolly mammoths. This book is really great (by the authors of Dino-Dinners) and gives information not just on mammoths but on stone age people too, which has further sparked an interest in prehistoric life.
Look Inside the Stone Age – I really like this lift-the-flap series, and this one is great. It talks about many aspects of stone age life, before moving onto the bronze and iron ages briefly at the end too. Again, this is a really accessible introduction to a very complex topic, so I’m pleased with it (though I’m not sure it paints a wholly realistic picture of how hard life must have been!)
Vincent’s Starry Night – this is a fantastic children’s history of art (though as an adult I have found it so interesting and learnt a lot!). Age three, Frida is still too young for some of this, but we have read the first couple of chapters on prehistoric sculpture and cave-paintings, which have tied in perfectly. This book would actually be a wonderful backbone to a DIY homeschool art curriculum, working through it chapter by chapter and supplementing with further books, trips, and research.
What are you reading with your children this summer?