September 22, 2011

Good Books for Paleontology

Sorry I disappeared. I am not dead. Just busy. Very, very busy.

Well, there is also the fact that I haven't been homeschooling much what with one thing or another. A little math here. Some Spanish there. And every once in awhile I have Miriam spell something.

But between the time we officially started school and now we have been studying paleontology, and while I have enjoyed it and my children have LOVED it, in the future I am going to avoid dragging units out. If possible, that is.

With that lengthy intro--here are our favorite books from paleontology.

Mysteries of the Fossil Dig: How Paleontologists Learn About Dinosaurs by Pamela Rushby. This is one of the very best of the best. National Geographic usually lives up to its reputation, and it certainly did in this case. The pics are awesome and the text is informative without being too lengthy.

Sabertooth Cat by Janet Riehecky. I didn't think any of the sabertooth cat books we found in our Davis County library system or Weber County library system are that great. However, the idea of sabertooth cats is riveting to children--boys especially--so the kids loved the books despite the books' many flaws.
The Dinosaur Bone Battle Between O.C. Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope by Brooke Hartzog. Another great story of selfishness and greed leading men down unpleasant paths. Moral to the story--plus good dino information. Winner.

Cave Detectives: Unraveling the Mystery of An Ice Age Cave by David L. Harrison. GOLD STAR BOOK. This was by far the best book we read. I was riveted, my children were riveted. Miriam changed her mind, after reading this book, about being an animal rescuer when she grows up. Now she wants to be an animal rescuer and scientist, so she can go explore the cave. Just plain amazing. Read it--even if you have no good reason to do so.
Fossils Tell of Long Ago by Aliki. I still haven't found a perfect fossil book, but this one isn't bad. My children liked it and the explanations were helpful. It was definitely better than many that I read and returned to the library without reading them to the kids.

Kaleidoscope: Fossils by Roy Gallant. This book is old but it falls into the "oldie but goodie" category.

Geology Rocks! Fossils by Rebecca Faulkner. This book has the best fossil pictures and the best glossary. Miriam used the glossary to find definitions to write on our vocab chart on the wall. Plus, I read it to the children and they all liked it and sat through it.

Trapped in Tar: Fossils From the Ice Age by Caroline Arnold. I kept this book, instead of returning it to the library, because there is a picture of sabertooth cat fossils and I thought Cowen would like to see it. I wasn't real impressed by the rest of the book. The book is ancient, the pictures are terrible (quality--not content), and there is too much text per page for my children's ages. I pulled it out to show my kids a few pictures, and they made me read the whole thing. Sometimes my children surprise me. They loved the idea of the animals getting sucked down to death. Gruesome--but they loved the book, so there you go.

Rare Treasure: Mary Anning and Her Remarkable Discoveries by Don Brown. There are several Mary Anning books out there and most of them are JUNK. If you are studying Mary Anning (and you should, you really should!) stick to this children's book biography or a biography written for adults/YA. Maybe that sounds harsh to the other books but I read four or five and they were all HISTORICALLY INACCURATE. The historian in me cringed. You don't need to dress up/mess up a story like Mary Anning's. As to this book's quality--aside from it being the most historically correct--it is great. The illustrations aren't my style, but my children loved it and started playing "dino explorer" after reading it. Awesome.
Ice Age Sabertooth: The Most Ferocious Cat That Ever Lived by Barbara Hehner. Another okay sabertooth cat book.

So there you have it. We read a ton more and both library districts in our neck of the woods are chock-full of paleontology books, but these are the ones we liked best. I can't reiterate enough that you should immediately switch to your library homepage and reserve a copy of Cave Detectives. It is that good.

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