Wednesday, November 19, 2008

When Dinosaurs Ruled... Our Home

The signs are everywhere: the dino box, open in the living room, dinosaurs strewn all over the house. The dinosaur books, dozens of them, taking up so much library shelf space that they had to be given their own shelf.

Not that they're ever on the shelf - mostly, they are currently being read, or have been left open to the page at which they were last read, on the couch.

They are piled on each other, usually with a kid or two nested into the space next to the pile.

Dinosaurs have provided a window into morality and perspective for 4 year-old Owen, trying to wrap his mind around the idea that velociraptors and other meat-eaters aren't necessarily evil, just really quick predators. He shouts at them when he sees pictures of carnivores catching herbivores, or stealing eggs, or hunting birds... he will ask questions such as "Mama, why is that dino eating a bird? He should stop that! Velociraptor, don't do that!" I won't get into the tongue-lashing I got when I suggested that we, too eat birds, but I think Owen became a vegetarian today.

Luke is now a time traveler, and brings back about 10 dinos' DNA each morning (it's his watch, you see, that makes this possible); then, Owen spends the rest of the time before lunch turning into those dinosaurs, curling up and reading to his "dino baby." Or insisting that his T-rex have a chat with Black Bear, a favorite stuffed bear with a French accent - don't ask me, I just live here.

Anyone interested in dino artwork, may I recommend How to Draw Dinosaurs, an Usborne Activity book which we like because of the free-flowing and visually unique images that can be made by even little ones. Our other favorite is Paper Dinosaurs, a book of origami dinos that we had the great luck of finding at the library.

When Luke wants to resarch dinosaur books, he's been going to Better World Books, an organization whose mission is to promote literacy worldwide. They accept donations of used books and then sell them, as well as new books, free of charge in the US. Luke will go the Better World website and write down names and authors of books he wants to own, and usually will shout out loud exclamations like "Mom! This book's only $3.98!" Yes, for anyone who didn't see the significance, Luke actually writes this information down; a breakthrough for a boy who could not be cajoled into writing nearly anything 6 months ago.

Dinosaurs have been good to us in many ways: the boys desire endless facts about them, create dinosaur scenes in pictures and origami, want to hear and read dino stories, incorporate them into their fantasy play, and consider the ethics of omnivorism.

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