Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Dem Bones

Rate this book
Shoulder bone connected to da neck bone
Neck bone connected to da head bone
Dem Bones, Dem Bones, Dem Dry Bones
Colorful torn paper collages bring to life this classic African American spiritual. The frolicking skeletons will captivate children and adults while they sing along with this well-known, catchy song. Accompanied by interesting, informative "bone facts" this book makes a wonderful addition to both home and classroom libraries and a fun treat for Halloween!

32 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 1996

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Bob Barner

58 books11 followers
Bob Barner has been drawing since he was three years old. He graduated from the Columbus College of Art and Design, then moved to Boston where he was an art director at several advertising agencies and design studios. He was hired to help comic strip creator Al Capp draw Li'l Abner and studied with Milton Glaser at the School of Visual Arts in New York. He lives with his wife, Cathie, in San Francisco, California, where, in 2004, he was honored as a San Francisco Library Laureate.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
133 (27%)
4 stars
173 (35%)
3 stars
147 (30%)
2 stars
26 (5%)
1 star
10 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 72 reviews
Profile Image for Kelly.
804 reviews
August 12, 2018
Dem Bones takes the traditional African American spiritual and turns it into a lighthearted anatomy lesson. Adults can chose whether to merely read/sing the traditional text or to add the short fact sections for additional information. My students are beginning a unit on human bodies and we're planning to spend some time thinking about bones and skeletons. This book will be a fun resource to support our other work. While I don't expect my students (four and five year olds) to remember much of the more complex anatomy information, there are several kids who are likely to consume the details ferociously and several others who will just find it interesting. If nothing else, the text will help us with very basic labeling of anatomy and perhaps even a simple dance.
Profile Image for Peacegal.
9,660 reviews83 followers
February 6, 2013
I love singing this song to my dog, my home's resident expert on bones.
Profile Image for Katelynne.
777 reviews12 followers
September 22, 2022
Takes the folk song and adds facts about all the bones in our body.
Profile Image for Mama Bibliosoph.
271 reviews13 followers
October 13, 2018
Most of us are familiar with "Dem Bones" as a childhood song that is great for learning about the parts of the body, but you may not know that it was originally an African American spiritual inspired by the prophet Ezekiel's visit to the "Valley of Dry Bones."

This adaptation by Bob Barner has sidebars with technical information about the parts of the human skeleton that I find a little much for a picture book, but they are easily skipped over. Some may also find the illustrations a little wonky and hard to follow, but I like how each spread shows a close-up of the bone we are singing about as well as a full-length skeleton so that we can see that bone in context. Also, the bone in question is highlighted in a solid color, so it's easier to label.

If you're like me and not thrilled by religious references, there are many secularized ways to sing this song that don't include mentions of "the Lord." I like a version that I found on The Kiboomers YouTube channel.

I review books from the perspective of a parent of two children with autism. This review is part of a list of Halloween theme books that can be found on my blog: https://www.lineupthebooks.com/hallow...
Profile Image for Garrett.
145 reviews2 followers
September 29, 2017
I don't read children's books, but suffered a long wait at a bakery in Denver where Barner's book was glaring at me from a shelf. I decided to take a peek and found myself digesting the pages, partly to pass the time, but also partly to admire the technical detail Barner has integrated into the lovingly illustrated take on the classic "Dem Bones." Skeletons rock out on each page like a New Orleans band, while blurbs quietly explain the purpose and origin of major bones. The clash between simplicity and 7th grade physiology is a little startling, and this book seems to be shooting for two entirely different age ranges, but I think there's much to admire in trying to give young readers a precocious bunch of anatomy lessons and trivia, at the very least to inspire them to become physicians later in life.
Profile Image for Melissa.
110 reviews2 followers
July 31, 2018
This book is a mixture of poetry and informational text. It has the text for the song "Dem Dry Bones," which according to the copyright page is an "African American spiritual," and each page has factual details about each bone or set of bones. I love the illustrations of this book as I can imagine my daughter picking it up because she is obsessed with anything and everything that looks like "Halloween." I know my daughter would enjoy the song aspect and she would also learn something about our skeletal system. The illustrations are paper collages and are striking. They are humorous and fun. I can see the illustration helping to keep a young reader engaged.

I would use this in a science unit with the younger elementary grades. It would also be fun with older students in science to discuss what bones were left out and why. How would including other bones have changed the "song"?
91 reviews2 followers
September 19, 2018
I appreciate this book because it balances entertainment with factual information - which isn't easy! This would be a fitting introductory book regarding the skeleton for preschoolers. My son enjoys the song and the fun dancing skeletons. He also likes learning about the human body and the additional details about the bones themselves and their functions. I appreciate that it manages to keep things accessible for my preschooler. I did have to google how to pronounce "coccyx" - guess its been a while since I last took any anatomy in school! Ha! Several of the reviews mentioned this being a good book for around Halloween but I think it would be a fun book to read whenever your kid starts asking questions about what is under our skin - regardless of the season.
26 reviews
November 30, 2020
1. 1996 Publishers Weekly, 1997 Black-Eyed Susan Award (Nominee)
2. K-3 Grade
3. Through out this book is a song that goes from the toe bone to the head bone and singing all the connecting bones in between. For certain bones there are informative notes about the scientific names and fun facts about that specific bone.
4. This book is full of fun colorful skeleton illustrations that draws the attention of younger children. The book also contains a fun, catchy song that can be used to help remember different bones in the human body.
5. This book can be used to assess students on remembering important details and information of a story. It can also be used to teach students the different bones in the body and where they are.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
937 reviews16 followers
October 28, 2018
Kid (5 years old) loves spooky books. It soon Halloween. Saw this book with Skelton’s. We love it. The art is attractive. Kid actually asked questions about technique after reading the books the song is fun and familiar. The clincher for us was the body facts. I wasn’t expecting those and was pleasantly surprised. Others suggested the anatomy lessons were over the top. Totally disagree. Each page, I asked if he wanted to learn more about the bones and the answer was always yes. Kids are like sponges and think about how they learn every fact about Paw Patrol. Why not learn about the human body.
1,135 reviews2 followers
June 30, 2020
Just kind of weird to me. There’s the song that everyone is pretty familiar with (leg bones connected to the knee bone, etc). It also includes factual information about the bones. The song doesn’t include any of the arm bones, or the ribs. Therefore there’s no factual information about those either. It just feels odd to leave out so much. I also think the song and the facts don’t really match in terms of age appropriateness. Finally, my 4 year old was very creeped out and scared of the skeletons. He tends to be squeamish about body stuff. My 3 year old was fine with it and liked it. But it should be kept in mind that it could be scary for some younger children.
Profile Image for SaraKat.
1,547 reviews32 followers
December 17, 2017
The old bones song that we all grow up hearing is the basis for this book. If one were so inclined, singing it to a youngster would be easy and the dancing skeleton illustrations would be entertaining. I liked the labelled skeleton at the end for quick reference and the fact that the bones being discussed were highlighted on each picture. As a general skeleton reference for young readers, it does the job. The end says that there are 450 bones at birth, but all the reputable sources I found mention 305 as the correct number.
Profile Image for Sophie Klockow.
186 reviews
March 6, 2019
Summary: This book perfectly correlates with the song Dem Bones
Connections: This reminds me of the song and almost all kids love singing songs as they are catchy
How you would use it: I would use this in science when talking about anatomy to make it fun and help children remember it
Subject heading:
Human skeleton--Juvenile literature.
Bones--Juvenile literature.
Profile Image for Mary Tumbleson.
41 reviews
November 16, 2022
This book is such a fun way to teach kids about the bones in the human body. The illustrations are so fun and there is a lot of information about each section of the body that kids can learn from. There’s even a chart at the end with some specific names of bones for kids that are really interested in bones.
Profile Image for Tracy.
369 reviews5 followers
February 27, 2019
This song is spiritual and dates back to at least the 1920s. The illustrations are quirky, and there's information about the skeleton scattered throughout the text in information boxes. It's easy to sing the song and skip the physiology for storytime if needs be.
101 reviews
September 1, 2020
Great book to teach second to third grade. It goes into detail about the different titles of bones, where they are located, and purpose. Very catchy and great illustrations. Could be counted as a Halloween book as well since it is skeleton themed.
Profile Image for Theresa.
7,452 reviews111 followers
October 22, 2016
Dem Bones (Unknown Binding)
by Bob Barner
yes this book has the song Dem bones, but also has an explanation and description of all the bones in the song with interesting facts.
Used as a Halloween book for Kindergarten
Profile Image for Heather Jo.
1,879 reviews9 followers
November 26, 2017
megan fall reading 2017, children's book, picture book, bones, anatomy, sing along, songs, prek, kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade,
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Misbah.
1,223 reviews6 followers
August 10, 2018
A picture book version of the "bone song".

I was surprised to learn that the Dem Bones or Dry Bones song is actually a spiritual African American song.
107 reviews1 follower
October 15, 2018
CUte book for a parent teaching a very young child about bones.
303 reviews12 followers
April 5, 2020
A bit of a whimsical look at all the bones in the human body from an African spiritual.
Profile Image for Cara Byrne.
3,045 reviews18 followers
April 15, 2020
A recommended book as part of the Scholastic Learn at Home 1st and 2nd grade program.
Profile Image for Lee Felker.
98 reviews
July 8, 2020
Perfect for body lesson

This book was great for a body lesson with my three year old. I paired it with the dem bones song on YouTube.
I highly recommend.
Profile Image for Sherry Scheline.
1,232 reviews3 followers
October 30, 2020
WONDERFUL!!!! Great book for the season, but wonderful for anytime. Simple understanding of bones and very informative. The illustrations are great.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 72 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.