Prehistory Study – Recommended Books

We went looking for informative, scientifically strong, visually appealing books that would invoke in students a sense of curiosity and wonder about the prehistoric past. Here are the books we fell in love with. The study charts provided for the reference book and the primary study texts organize the topics in the book into eight categories, coordinating topics among three skill levels so that all members of your family can study the same subject at the same time (beginning readers will probably need someone to read the Primary text out loud, but the concepts should be age-appropriate). Following these books we also list some additional books that can be read aloud, or assigned as independent reading while the students are participating in the Prehistory Study. If you have additional suggestions, please feel free to add them in the comments section.

You can click on any book cover to go to our Amazon store to purchase these books. (We receive a small commission from Amazon for purchases made through our storefront. Thank you so much for your support!)


Evolution: The Story of Life
By Douglas Palmer
ISBN: 9780520255111

Recommended As: Reference Book
Level: All Levels
Study Chart

Description: This amazing book is the best thing we’ve found for helping students of all ages to envision prehistoric life as integrated environments rather than as isolated fossilized individuals. Most of the book is comprised of gorgeous panoramic illustrations depicting plant and animal life as they might have looked during different time periods of the prehistoric past. The book also contains interesting information about the organisms in the illustrations, as well as an index of the species included in the book. Even young children will enjoy the pictures, and older students will find the book an informative reference. I love this book and strongly recommend it for anyone studying prehistoric times.

Primary Study Texts

Prehistoric Life: The Definitive Visual History Of Life On Earth
By DK Publishing
ISBN: 9780756655730

Recommended As: Primary Study Text
Level: Advanced
Study Chart

Description: This book not only has beautiful photographs of fossils, but is also filled with meaty information about the prehistoric world and the life forms who lived there. Younger children will enjoy looking at the pictures, but the reading level of the text makes this a book for high schoolers and adults.

The Complete Guide to Prehistoric Life
By Tim Haines and Paul Chambers
ISBN: 9781554071814

Recommended As: Primary Study Text
Level: Intermediate
Study Chart

Description: This book is a companion to the “Walking With ______” series of videos and consists primarily of additional information about the creatures shown in the videos. There are also concise explanations about the divisions of prehistoric time.

The Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World History
By Jane Bingham, Fiona Chandler, and Sam Taplin
ISBN: 978-0794526887

Recommended As: Primary Study Text
Level: Primary
Study Chart

Description: A popular text for home education history studies, this book begins with an excellent section about prehistoric times. In the typical Usborne Encyclopedia style, topics are generally presented as a two-page spread with brief explanations appropriate to younger students along with beautiful illustrations. Some of these illustrations are available on the companion web site and would make excellent additions to notebook pages. (The edition with the mask is the older edition, while the new one has the knight on the front. My understanding is that the interior of the books is almost entirely identical. If you know different, please let me know.)

Related Reading

The Origin Of Species
By Charles Darwin
ISBN: 9780451529060

Recommended As: Read aloud or independent reading
Level: Advanced

Description: The Origin of Species is the landmark book by Charles Darwin that transformed science forever.

Who Was Charles Darwin?
By Deborah Hopkinson
ISBN: 9780448437644

Recommended As: Read aloud or independent reading
Level: Intermediate

Description: A  kid-friendly retelling of the life of one of the most famous scientists of all time.

Alfred Wegener: Uncovering Plate Tectonics
By Greg Young
ISBN: 9780743905602

Recommended As: Read aloud or independent reading
Level: Primary – Intermediate

Description: A brief introduction to a ground-breaker in the field of plate tectonics.

The Enormous Egg
By Oliver Butterworth
ISBN: 9780316119207

Recommended As: Read aloud or independent reading
Level: Fun for the whole family

Description: Nate’s chicken lays a huge egg, from which a baby triceratops at last emerges. Challenges and hillarity ensue. Our whole family enjoyed this book…enormously.

Dinosaurs Before Dark
By Mary Pope Osborne
ISBN: 9780375844058

Recommended As: Read aloud or independent reading
Level: Primary

Description: Jack and Annie travel through time for an amazing adventure.

The Magic School Bus In the Time of The Dinosaurs
By Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen
ISBN: 9780590446891

Recommended As: Read aloud or independent reading
Level: Primary

Description: Miss Frizzle takes her class on another unforgettable field trip.

The following books look like valuable additions to a prehistory library, especially for primary and intermediate level students. However, we have not yet had the chance to review them or correlate them with the Awakening Wonder study sequence. We have added them to our Amazon store for convenient ordering anyway. If you have these books we’d love to hear your thoughts on them. Thanks!

When Fish Got Feet, Sharks Got Teeth, and Bugs Began to Swarm: A Cartoon Prehistory of Life Long Before Dinosaurs     When Bugs Were Big, Plants Were Strange, and Tetrapods Stalked the Earth: A Cartoon Prehistory of Life before Dinosaurs     When Dinos Dawned, Mammals Got Munched, and Pterosaurs Took Flight: A Cartoon PreHistory of Life in the Triassic

NOTE: These pages coordinate with:
Prehistory Notebook Pages – Intermediate / Advanced
Prehistory Notebook Pages – Primary
Prehistory Coloring Pages – Junior
Prehistory Minibooks
Suggested Videos
Instructor Notes 


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Alex
    Jun 20, 2011 @ 07:13:49

    This is wonderful! My kids and I are just starting a mini summer study on prehistoric times. I found your blog while searching for notebook pages for them. I included a link to your site for your notebook pages set and added it to my plans.
    Here is my blog and the page where you can find the mention:


    • Amy
      Jul 08, 2011 @ 12:37:26

      Thank you, I hope you find them useful. I have coordinating lapbook materials completed and am planning to upload them as soon as I get the time. We’ve had some unexpected twists and turns tossed in (there’s always something, isn’t there?) and I’m still working on pulling together my own homeschool plans for next year, but they’re coming!


  2. Mom in High Heels
    Dec 02, 2011 @ 12:30:13

    This is a great list. Thanks.


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