Tuesday, February 3, 2009

D is for Dinosaur

Written by Ken Ham (president of Answers in Genesis, an apologetics group focusing on creation science) and his wife, Mally, much of the information in D is for Dinosaur is good. But much of the writing is poor.

The book is divided into two sections. The first is a rhyming picture book, full of colorful and fun illustrations. The rhymes attempt to give an overview of creation science, but are limited to one stanza each and sometimes provide far too little information. Too, the rhymes are often forced. For example:

"D is for Dinosaur, but you'll have to wait,
'Cause on day four other things God did make."

If you only read this section of the book, you'll likely be disappointed. Although lots of assertions are made, some are unclear and none have any evidence to back them up.

The second half of the book contains the same illustrations, except in black and white. (The authors suggest allowing children to use these as coloring pages, but unless you want your child to think it's okay to write in books, I suggest making photocopies before allowing the kids to color them.) The same rhymes found in the first section of the book are also given, but beneath each stanza, there is considerable text, backing up the ideas presented in the rhymes. This text is targeted to parents; unfortunately, it isn't suitable to read aloud to children (in part because it gives specific instructions to parents, and partly because it's not written in a kid-friendly way).

The good news is, overall the authors do a nice job of backing up their claims with references from the Bible and explanations from creation science theory. Sometimes the authors state things as fact that really should be presented as theory, but mostly they do a good job of making it clear we'll never know everything there is to know about creation.

Ideas covered include: the Bible is an accurate account of creation in six days; God made every animal--including dinosaurs--on day five; all animals (including dinosaurs) were plant eaters before the fall; God told Noah to build an ark and put two of every kind of animal in it (including dinosaurs); God flooded the world and dinosaurs probably survived due to Noah's ark; the flood probably caused the plethora of dinosaur fossils and bones we find today; dinosaurs died out eventually and we're not sure just why; the Bible mentions a "Behemoth" that fits the description of a dinosaur; dragons may have been real dinosaurs and the stories of them embellished to mythical proportions; the earth is younger than many mainstream scientists believe (according to the Bible, about 6,000 years old); historically, humans are often wrong and the Bible is right (for example, people once believed the world was flat, but the Bible says it's round); and more.

Perhaps the most useful part of D is for Dinosaur comes in the form of "student exercises" given in the second half of the book. These offer interesting ways to help children understand creation science. For example, when dealing with the question of why some dinosaurs have sharp teeth when God originally created them to eat plants, the authors suggest having children research animals living today who have sharp teeth but are herbivores; or, to understand the layers of soil that may have been created during the flood, the authors suggest using a corked bottle, dirt, and water to create a mini science experiment.

What I Like: I appreciate any book on dinosaurs that doesn't contradict the Bible by talking about Darwinist theory or the Big Bang theory. I think many of the "student exercises" in the book are excellent, and I like that the parent/teacher section of the book gives lots of verses to look up in the Bible. Only the word of God is 100 percent accurate when talking about dinosaurs, the authors explain.

What I Dislike: The writing in this book is often poor, and I wish the authors had included kid-friendly text backing up their assertions. As it is, parents or teachers must nearly memorize the text for adults before reading the rhyming book to their children. Also, many of the exercises in the book are not appropriate for the age level the rhyming section is targeted to. The authors also have annoying way of claiming things are "obvious" when they clearly are not--even to many Christians. For example, in the text for parents or teachers, they write:

"Explain that if God had taken a million years for each day, then we would have a million-year rest [instead of a day's rest at the end of the week], and our week would be seven millions years long. Children will readily understand that this is obviously absurd."

Overall Rating: Despite the book's flaws, overall I think this is a useful title. I give it a "Good" rating.

Age Appeal: According to the publisher, baby to preschool, but while the rhyming text is absolutely targeted to this age group, the concepts and exercises in the second half of the book are often far more appropriate for children in the early grades.

Publisher Info: Master Books, 1991; ISBN: 0890511934; hardback; $15.99

Buy it Now from ChristianBook.com for $11.99,

OR buy it from Amazon.com for $12.49


iluvcallalilies said...

I think your assessment is accurate. We borrowed this book from the library, and my thoughts matched yours exactly. The rhyme was cute, but not especially "educational." The activities were advanced for my three year old. We'll continue to borrow it from the library from time to time, but I won't purchase the book. It wasn't quite a homerun here.

Jessa said...

I found this book for $1.00 at a used book store. My 2-year-old daughter likes to hear it read to her, and she likes to look at the pictures. I actually haven't read any of the other things in it yet, but I know it will be useful in homeschooling a few years from now.