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Project X was specifically created to address the "generally weaker performance" (Rose review 2006) of boys in reading. One clear factor in the poorer performance of boys in reading is motivation. I saw this first hand when a boy I knew at age 12, who had been declared learning disabled and was never expected to learn to read taught himself in 3 months as he wanted to play a video game that required reading (Zelda). This series is meant for girls as well, but recognising that girls are more willing to read a wide variety of content, they have made a concerted effort to choose subjects likely to appeal to boys. So it was only a matter of time before they included a book on dinosaurs, which seem to be a perennial favourite with most children, but especially boys.
Dinosaur Safari is book band 8 - Purple. The approximate age guide for this is ages 6-7, but more importantly a child should be able to read most high frequency words, including words with suffixes and prefixes. They should be able to decode unfamiliar words using a variety of strategies, and should be comfortable reading longer and more complex sentences. Obviously, this book will contain names of dinosaurs, some of which can be a bit tricky for the new reader, especially "pteranodon". In most case I would allow the child to try to figure the word out themselves, but in this case I volunteer the fact that this is difficult word and the p does not make a sound. Other more difficult words will include, prehistoric, height, and brachiosaurus.
That said, there is no harm in buying this for a much younger child, as long as the parent will be doing the reading. My two year old enjoys this book as well. It has a brilliant pictures and a relatively short, engaging text. I have now started to purchase some of these books in higher reading levels as night time story books, knowing they will also be used again to teach reading at a later time.
My 6 year old son really enjoyed this book, and was able to read this with limited difficulty. He did need help with a couple of names, but I expected that. The facts are presented in such as way as to keep a child's interest, and the illustrations are quite good. Each dinosaur has a handy facts guide that includes phonetic pronunciation of each animal, which I found helpful. This book is part of the habitat themed cluster, so we spent a lot time discussing the differences in various habitats. It also has an activity page where you guess where each creature lived. Our favourite part though was a page entitled "How Big?" This has a picture of Ant, one of the main characters in this series and our guide for our dinosaur safari alongside the outline of each dinosaur. My sons do not really get a grasp of the size of a dinosaur by reading it was 13 metres high. The oldest realises that is big of course, but he doesn't really know how big, and in all honesty I have trouble visualising it myself. By including the picture of Ant as a reference, this really brings how enormous most of the creatures were to life.
If you are interested in this book, it sells for £5.00 from Amazon. This may seem a bit high for 24 pages, but I do think it is worth the price. However, in this case I would advise you not to take my word for it. Why not? Because you can read the entire book, in ebook format for yourself here: http:// www.oxfordowl.co.uk/ EBooks/ Dinosaur%20Safari/ index.html
( you will have to remove the space after each / to access the site).
You can share the book online with your children, or decide to buy a physical copy if you feel this would suit your family.