Those of you fossil enthusiasts who keep up with social media doubtless already know of Ashley Hall (though I will link to her Twitter and Instagram anyway in case you somehow have yet to actually follow her). She is a true giant in the online paleontology community. To the extent that the paleo community has “influencers”, she is perhaps rivaled only by Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs and Darren Naish of Tetrapod Zoology. Her outsized influence has already earned her a mention in two of the books I’ve reviewed here before: Cruisin’ the Fossil Coastline and She Found Fossils.
Now, Ashley has finally broken into the publishing world herself with a book of her own titled Fossils For Kids! Written for grade school level youngsters, this book provides an introduction to the nature and study of fossils, as well as some famous fossil species.
Fossils For Kids provides a good introduction to fossils as a concept. Hall discusses the various types of fossils (molds, casts, “true form”, and trace fossils) and the ways they form, such as petrification, pyritization, amber preservation, and more.
The bulk of the book consists of brief profiles of famous fossil organisms, split into several chapters. Dinosaurs, prehistoric superstars that they are, take center stage in the first such chapter, followed by other vertebrates (from sharks to mammoths), then invertebrates, and finally fossil plants. Each section also opens with a handy definition of the general concepts in play, such as what characterizes a dinosaur, the different categories of plants, etc.
One should keep in mind, however, that this book is not meant as a field guide. The average kid should enjoy the species profiles, though they will not be of much help in identifying specific fossils a casual collector might find while fossil hunting on their own.
If however you are looking for an educational book for kids that highlights the nature of the fossils themselves just as much as it celebrates the extinct organisms they represent, then Fossils For Kids is the book for you. I think it’s a bit above the level of my six year old, but for most kids older than that, I’m pleased to give it my Dino Dad Stomp of Approval!