All children are obsessed with dinosaurs some time during their early childhood years. Whether it’s during their older toddler or preschool years or more into their 1st or 2nd years of elementary school, dinosaurs take up a lot of their time, energy and focus.
I’m long past my early childhood years, but it didn’t matter. I was thrilled to received a copy of Dear Dinosaur by Chae Strathie from Barron’s Educational Series. This book introduced me to the characters. Barron’s Education Series had recently sent me the sequel, Dear Dinosaur: T.Rex on Tour that I’d reviewed.
The general story line: A young boy named Max is thrilled at the chance to visit his local museum of history. His favorite section: Dinosaurs of course! Unfortunately, not long after Max arrives, it’s time for the museum to close. How will Max get his many questions answered? Dinosaur Dora, the museum guide, suggests Max write a letter to T. Rex. She’s sure T. Rex will write back! And, so begins an unusual correspondence.
Friendships come in all shapes and sizes; the friendship in this book is inter-generational in the extreme! Tucked throughout the delightful story, Chae Strathie gives readers bits of dino-data. If you’ve got a dinosaur-obsessed child, these could be great starting points in finding out more information. Nicola O’Byrne’s colorful illustrations fill the book’s large size with extra dialogue, additional facts and fun drawings. The pages alone will intrigue and entertain children!
The unique aspect about this book, having actual letters (or cards or postcards) for kiddos to open, is a fantastic idea. This interactive aspect is sure to keep a child’s attention. Whether a teacher or parent, finding a book with a good story AND an interactive component guarantees a hit!
The unique aspect of the book, though, is also the same thing that makes it not appropriate for all children. I wouldn’t recommend using Dear Dinosaur—either in a classroom library or home setting—with children younger than 4. The risk of tearing out a letter or postcard is just too great. But if you have a 4 year and older kiddo that loves dinosaurs or need a gift for a dino-crazed kidlet, this is the book for you!
Are you wondering how kiddos could benefit from a dinosaur obsession?
One way: They’re safe! Many dinosaurs, like Tyrannosaurus Rex, were fierce and carnivorous. Take a look around. See any? No! They’re extinct! And children know there are no living dinosaurs anywhere on Earth. They know they only see their remains in museums or likenesses on screens. It frees their imaginations to, safely, run wild with T. Rex without fear of actually coming face-to-face with one.
Paleontologists have proven T. Rex was ruthless in their predatory ways. It could be said they were the originators of antisocial behavior! It also makes T.Rex a perfect character to use to talk about how to be, or make, a friend!
The 1st letter Max receives from T-Rex is far from friendly! Little by little, Max’s genuine caring and kindness ultimately lay the foundation for true friendship.
Role PLAY to Make Friends
Making friends, and other social skills, are vital skills children must learn. After reading Dear Dinosaur, I thought about how it could be used in a classroom or at home. Role PLAY is a wonderful way to help children through difficult situations.
An avenue towards role-play inspiration: BOOKS! And Dear Dinosaur is a great resource!
• Point out sections in the book where Max stands up for himself
• Highlight where Max calls out inappropriate behavior
• Note where Max shows understanding and kindness
Perhaps you know of a particular little person who poses a challenge to your child. Use the book as an example to brainstorm ways to make that relationship better.
Role PLAYING is beneficial as it lets your kidlet practice different scenarios. Offer dialogue for your child to use; the goal of role PLAYING is to guide them in how to handle a sticky situation. Once they have role PLAY down, it’s time to make a PLAY date! FYI, give your kiddo a heads-up! Let them know that sometimes in real life, PLAY doesn’t always go as planned. Reassure them, by letting them know you’re always available if needed. Be sure to also give them a boost in self-confidence by stating your belief in their capabilities!
Friendships are dynamic–they have ups and downs. Knowing how to make, and be a friend, is an important skill. One your child will carry past the prehistoric-age obsession, into the present and beyond!
Yours in PLAY!