Where to Buy Dinosaur Stuff

Archived Responses: 

Feb 2000

My nephew is turning 4 in a couple of weeks. My sister told me in passing that he's really interested in dinosaurs these days. Most of the dinosaur-related items I've seen in the toy stores look kind of scary to me--the pictures are so realistic (mouths wide open, with lots of teeth). Is the average 4 year old boy okay with these types of images? I would appreciate suggestions of dinosaur-related books and toys that are appropriate for a 4 year old. Thanks!

About a month ago my son who's 5 picked out a great dinosaur book at Borders in Pleasanton. The book was in the sale area so I'm not sure if you'll be able to locate it. Unfortunately, I can't remember the name. It had cut-out dinos that stored in the back of the book and the center opened to make a play area for the dinos. The art work is beautiful and fairly realistic wihtout being scary. The text may be a little old for a four year old but my son loved listening to the descriptions of the dinosaurs. Another book recommendation is Ten Little Dinosaurs and there's another book out that has wiggly eyes for the dinosaurs - I can't remember the name. Basically, there are a number of age appropriate books available any large bookstore should be able to help. If you're looking for videos try the Land Before Time series - kids love them and they are very appropriate for 4 yr olds.
My son absolutely loved a book called An Alphabet of Dinosaurs. It lists a dinosaur (picture and facts about them like what they eat and how big they are) for each letter - Allosaurus, Brontosaurus, etc.. My son had these memorized, as well as the facts about them by the time he was four. Later, when he learned how to read he loved reading the extra facts about them for himself.
Dinosaurs are very big with the four-year-old set. (I'm on round 2 of dinosaurs with my second child, now 4). Unless the child is particularly timid, I wouldn't worry about the big teeth and such. Half the reason these kids love dinosaurs so much is that they are so big and scary. I wouldn't go show him Jurassic Park, but books and lifelike toys are probably fine. The Lawrence Hall of Science has just opened its dinosaur exhibit and the gift shop is full of dinosaur things. The Discovery Store has some interesting things too. My son was given a hardcover book called Dinosaurus for the holidays, and loves it. It has a page or two devoted to each kind of dinosaur and lots of facts about them. I think it may have come from Costco. There also are some stories -- Patrick's Dinosaurs, What Happened to Patrick's Dinosaurs and The Dinosaur That Lived In My Backyard come to mind -- that are pretty good. Stay away from pop-up books; they just get trashed. The Magic School Bus (a PBS series) devoted a show to dinosaurs, and there is a good paperback book The Magic School Bus in the Time of the Dinosaurs. There also is a pretty good computer game of the same name. I don't know if the Magic School Bus is still on (second-child syndrome strikes; we have all the old episodes taped and the book and CD are hand-me-downs), but if it is, these might be a hit. My kids liked our dinosaur puppets; Hearthsong (Fourth Street) and Sweet Dreams (College Avenue and Orinda Theatre Square) have a good selection of puppets, though I don't know if they have dinosaurs. Some of the best presents are cheap. There are glow-in-the-dark plastic dinosaur shapes that can be put on walls and ceilings; four year olds love them. Plastic cutouts that stick on the sides of the bathtub are big too. Good luck.
The Discovery Channel Store on 4th street has alot of great dinosaur items. They are also very realistic, but not scary. They do not do the scary blood and gore. They pride themselves on reality based. Anyway, they have puzzles, books, dino dig kits (fun in the backyard). You may want to try there.
My son was into dinosaurs when he was ages 3-4, and we never felt he was scared by them. Quite the opposite: at those ages, he loved to scare grown-ups with such things. If you want a fun, non-scary book on dinosaurs, I recommend the book in the series that has those 3-D googly eyes called something like Ten Little Dinosaurs. (If interested, e-mail me directly and I'll check the title and publisher at home.)
To the person whose nephew is interested in dinosaurs: you might want to look at the Lawrence Hall of Science gift shop. They are currently running the exhibit, Dinosaurs 2000. Usually the gift shop runs promotional tie-ins with whatever is being exhibited. If you want to call to find out what they have, the museum number is (510) 642-5132. Byron Barton has written a series of books geared for young children with colorful, tame-looking cartoon-like illustrations -Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs is one of the titles. Aliki is another author that has written dinosaur books for kids -more about the role of an archeologist, what are fossils, etc. My daughter (3 at the time) really enjoyed these books. We also bought some Byron Barton dinosaur posters to decorate her room with (now their in her brother's room.) We a few dinosaur books and the posters for $1 to $2 each at Half -Price books on Solano Avenue in Albany. They have great prices on children's books! (510) Their number is 526-6080. As for the scare factor: most four years really enjoy looking at scary dinosaurs if they're presented in a fun, non-threatening way - particularily T-rex. But it really depends on the kids - some kids could experience nightmares if taken to the Lawrence Hall of Science exhibit which features lifelike, robotic dinosaurs. Depending on their level of sensitivity and sense of imagination, a scary illustration might be too much for them.