Reading on location with dinosaurs

posted in: Julie Middleton, Russell Ayto | 17

You may have seen Walking with Dinosaurs, but this summer we instead went Reading with Dinosaurs, inspired by the witty new book from Julie Middleton and Russell Ayto, Are the Dinosaurs Dead, Dad?, which is published today.

Reading with Dinosaurs involved setting off to a near-ish-by museum, The Herbert, to see their special exhibition Dinosaurs Uncovered with a rucksack full of dino treats (made with the help of this great cake tin) and our copy of Are the Dinosaurs Dead, Dad?

Reading in unusual places is always a good way to excite kids about books and reading a dinosaur book whilst a “real” dinosaur is breathing down your neck is ESPECIALLY exciting…

Even if you don’t have a dinosaur who can join you at story time, this book is one I think you should track down. For a start it poses questions about whether something which is alive in one’s imagination can ever really be said to be dead; Dad and son are visiting a natural history museum full of dinosaur skeletons and as they walk from exhibit to exhibit the father reassures the son that dinosaurs are indeed dead, long gone, extinct. The young boy is not so sure… One appears to grin at him, another tries to eat his burger. So who’s right? Are dinosaurs done and dusted or could it just be that one or two still live on…

This book hits the spots on lots of counts. Dinosaurs? Check. Laughs? Check. Child outwitting parent? Check. Stylish illustrations? Check. (Russell Ayto has a style all of his own, perhaps best seen in his Captain Flinn and Witch’s’ Children books, but there’s something a little Oliver Jeffers-esque about his drawings in this particular book). The opportunity to ROOOOOOOAAAAAAAARRRRRR? Check. You see? It’s most definitely a book to seek out.

As well as inspiring us to read on location, Are the Dinosaurs Dead, Dad? led us to create our own pet dinosaurs. We hatched these from a few sheets of card, some clothes pegs (clothespins), and a few socks with a little bit of glue and some zig-zag scissors (pinking shears).

Dino heads were drawn on folded-over pieces of card. These were cut out so that for each design there were two matching heads. A cut was made across the middle of the head with the scissors (to create teeth) and the pieces of card were then stuck onto the clothes pegs to create snapping dinosaur heads. Socks went over our hands to create dinosaur bodies and soon these baby dinos were running amok.

Whilst making our gnashing dinosaurs we listened to:

  • Dinosaur by The Baby Grands – here’s the video for your delight and delectation:
  • Dinosuar in My Backyard by Hullabaloo – watch this video and try not to nod along…
  • The Dinosaur Song by Johnny Cash – because any day is better with a sprinkling of the man in black!

  • You can find even more dinosaur music in this article from

    Other activities which would be fun to try alongside reading Are the Dinosaurs Dead, Dad? include:

  • Another way to use clothes pegs to make a dinosaur, this one from No Time for Flash Cards
  • Or if you’re a bit more handy with wood, you could create this moving dinosaur sculpture, also featuring a clothes peg!
  • And if you’ve a plumber in the family, perhaps she could make this dino radiator… how cool would that be?

  • Where’s the craziest place you’ve ever read a book? If you could read a book anywhere, where would you read it?

    Disclosure: I received my copy of Are the Dinosaurs Dead, Dad? from the publishers. This review, nevertheless, reflects my own and honest opinion.

    17 Responses

    1. Zoe

      Hi Se7en, I was really really pleased to see the museum actually had a book corner within the dinosaur exhibition – seats and about 20 different children’s books featuring dinosaurs, both fiction (picture books) and non fiction. And then this weekend we went to an Egyptology exhibition, and read Marcia William’s book about Egyptian gods. I’ve found reading on location slows things down a bit which is great – sometimes my kids can zoom around an exhibition and declare it “done” a little more quickly than the ticket price warrants!
      Zoe recently posted..Reading on location with dinosaurs

    2. Mevrouw Kinderboek

      Hoe funny that you had a dinosaur summer too! It was all dinosaurs for me too last months. Dvd’s, books and thousands of cracty things. Sometimes I think I live in a dinosaur museum…

    3. Stacey

      Like Se7en, I can’t believe I never thought of ‘reading on location’ either! I was thrilled when I discovered a book nook at the Baseball Hall of Fame Museum this spring but somehow never thought about creating my own book nook with our own books. And what a great point about slowing things down a bit- we have certainly run through our share of museums!
      Stacey recently posted..Long Days, Short Years

    4. Zoe

      Hi Stacey, I’m always amazed when I got a museum or exhibition and they haven’t thought of including any books for kids, even in the shop. I have a bit of dream of being a museum shop literacy consultant! (if only such jobs existed!!)
      Zoe recently posted..Reading on location with dinosaurs

    5. choxbox

      Lovely idea Zoe. Will replicate tomorrow 🙂

      Craziest place – err, hidden behind the door in the little room on the terrace. So that no one can find me. And this not when I was a child, but after I had two of my own!

    6. rachel slater

      I love this idea Zoe, and thank you for another place I will have to visit. Coventry’s not local, about 2.5hrs away but if I could tie it in with a trip to the Wolverhampton gallery as well (so got to do this before it finishes) then it would be worth it. We have had a dinosaur summer and this would be a great end to the summer. We went to the Rotunda Museum in Scarborough to see their dinosaur exhibit. Only small but we liked it.
      rachel slater recently posted..Story Cubes

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