Democracy for Dinosaurs: A Guide for Young Citizens

Little, Brown. (Dino Tales: Guides for Families). Sept. 2020. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780316534529.
K-Gr 2–The team that produced the “Dino Tales: Life Guides for Families” series provides an introduction to civic values. Watercolor illustrations are paired with simple text that highlights important features of democracy, including equality, voting, elections, and freedom of speech. Readers will learn why it’s important to treat people with respect, to look for truth in what they read, and to be honest with one another. The dinosaurs show readers how they can act out these principles of democracy at school and home, and also offer examples of how they can be active in the future. Overall, the book has some hits and misses. Sometimes it seems closer to a social-emotional resource than one that educates youngsters about the fundamentals of civic duty. In the “Be Honest” section, the reminder that “you are expected to be honest and tell the truth” is heavy-handed and out of place. The tone of these cartoon-style illustrations, paired with the overgeneralized text, could make it difficult for young readers to connect this narrative to their own experience and what it means to be a citizen. Issues of justice, equality, discrimination (a T. Rex is denied service in one illustration) could have benefited from more comprehensive coverage.
VERDICT This glossy and overly simplified text has noble intentions but is a misleading introduction to democracy. Not recommended.

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