Note: This post is part of a series on School Library Media/Materials for a course

Yolen, J. & Degen, B. (1990). Dinosaur Dances. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons 

Summary: Seventeen poems about dinosaurs, dancing, and all areas of revelry. A prehistoric party where Tyrannosaurs, Allosaurs, and all manner of Cretaceous dinosaurs dance their way through the night. Kids will delight in Allosaurs doing the hula, the T-Rex doing a disco, Twinkle Toes Triceratops, waltzes, and wallflowers.

Quantitative reading level: Lexile level (using Lexile analyzer) 830L

Qualitative reading analysis (Text complexity analyzed using SCASS/Achieve the Core Literature rubric)

Text Structure: Clear, easy to predict organization, poetic structure. Pictures directly support the text and support selected parts of the text.

Language features: Conversationality is largely explicit and easy to understand, some instances require more complex understanding for meaning. Vocabulary is mostly contemporary and familiar though there are some more academic terminology included that may be unfamiliar to the reader. Sentence structure varies from poem to poem. Some poems follow simple pentameter while others require more advanced knowledge of poetic themes and rhyming schemes.

Meaning: Meaning levels vary from poem to poem as each poem deals with a different topic or character. Most themes are clear and conveyed with mild to no subtlety.

Knowledge demands: From poem to poem different themes are explored, leading to several themes surveyed throughout the book. Experiences portrayed are common to many readers depending on age and emotional/social intelligence of the reader. There are no references or allusions to other texts and cultural allusions are neutral.

Content area: English-Poetry, Grades K-4.

Content area standards:

Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events

Refer to parts of stories, dramas, and poems when writing or speaking about a text, using terms such as chapter, scene, and stanza; describe how each successive part builds on earlier sections.

Explain how specific aspects of a text’s illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting)

Curriculum suggestions: Early literacy, introduction to poetry. This book could also be used for analyzing rhyming schemes in poetry. A further use could be to supplement music and movement activities for young children.

Personal thoughts: When one thinks of poetry it’s not necessarily boys at which the genre is aimed. True, there is a rich history of male poets but in general poetry doesn’t scream “boys.” This book has the glorious ability to appeal to children of both genders through its wonderful use of dinosaurs and dancing.

Series information: Out of Print

Digital Content:
Dinosaur Dances

NM Natural History Museum

The Poetry Foundation