Have you ever met a kid that doesn’t like dinosaurs? As a child, I remember going to Dinosaur National Monument in eastern Utah and thinking what I saw wasn’t real. Did dinosaurs really exist? Would they come back to life? What do you mean extinct?
As an adult, I experienced the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., with the same wide-eyed wonder as my previous six-year-old self. Observing fossils of creatures that once lived felt like a new discovery to me. Which I think is part of the appeal of mammoth creatures. They are both intimidating and fascinating all at once.
One of my favorite ways to extend a dinosaur reading experience for my kids is to set up a sensory bin dig. It’s a self-directed play that is fun to rotate throughout the year, which is a big win in my book! As for dinosaur books, I think 3+ is the ideal age for introducing these prehistoric beasts. Below are 12 fantastic dinosaur picture books to add to your collection.
If You Happen to Have a Dinosaur by linda bailey
What do you do if you find a dinosaur lounging around your living room? Well, for starters, mammoth feet make great nutcrackers, while pointy horns are perfect to use as a can opener. Dinosaurs are great deterrents to robbers, and they are perfect for taking to the pool as your own portable diving board.
In fact, dinosaurs come in handy in all sorts of situations . . . just as long as you don’t ask them to do your grocery shopping. So treat your domesticated dino well, and it will likely stick around for a long while.
Lulu and the Brontosaurus by judith viorst
Lulu is an only child who gets everything she wants. Two weeks before her birthday, she is determined to have a brontosaurus for a pet. Her parent protest this, and no amount of whining or tantrum-throwing changes their mind.
Not one to easily give up, Lulu tromps off into the forest to solve the matter on her own. When she finally encounters Mr. B, the tables turn. Lulu concludes that perhaps a dinosaur for a pet isn’t what she wanted after all.
With three alternate endings, this short chapter book is ideal for emerging or independent readers. (Also, don’t miss the other books in the Lulu series.)
The Colorful World of Dinosaurs by Matt Sewell
If the compelling cover isn’t enough to draw you in, the comprehensive information will. This book has 40+ entries that introduce readers to lesser-known reptiles while including their more famous counterparts. Each entry provides the length, weight, time period, and diet of these mammoth creatures and gives insight into what predators and terrain they occupied.
No longer drab behemoths, these reimagined dinosaurs are as colorful as a flock of their modern living descendants.
If I Had a Dinosaur by Gabby Dawney
Dogs and cats are great for pets, but fish are far too wet. Thinking of the proper pet? One house-sized is what to get.
Dinosaurs might roar or fetch and carry sticks. They’re ideal for riding to school and great for cuddling at night. The only thing to watch out for is, well, the poo. But overall, dinosaurs make awesome pets. Our copy of this rhyming book is well-worn for good reason.
(Note: “Titanosaurs are the largest known animals ever to have walked the earth. The biggest known titanosaur was longer than four London buses (and) it would have weighed more than ten African elephants!”)
Bolivar by sean rubin
Sybil and her mother live in New York City next door to a dinosaur. Bolivar, to be precise. But dinosaurs are extinct, so nobody listens to Sybil, even when she continues to tell her mother that she sees Bolivar at the museum, out shopping in the city, and riding the metro.
One night she tries to stay up all night just to catch a glimpse of him. Desperate for proof, Sybil shoots her polaroid at her moving target any chance she gets.
With exceptionally detailed illustrations and over 200 pages, this isn’t a traditional picture book. However, this coffee table/graphic-novel style tome is perfect for sprawling on the floor and reading over the course of a week. We can’t recommend this book enough!
Dinosaur vs. BEdtime by bob shea
Dinosaur is loud and proud. Hear him ROAR! Dinosaur can tackle any obstacle, be it a big slide, a bowl of spaghetti, or a group of talking grown-ups. Dinosaur wins every foe he encounters.
But his biggest challenge? You guessed it. Bedtime. Roar after roar, Dinosaur gives it his all, but eventually, this beast succumbs.
For all those high-energy kiddos in your life, this humorous and quick read is a real winner. Be sure to check out the other three books in the Dinosaur vs. series.
Stegothesaurus by Bridget Heos
Three brothers, one a little different from the others, travel through the desert. Stegothesaurus describes the things they see with an assortment of descriptive words.
When the brothers stop to rest, they are accosted by an awaiting allosaurus. Terrified, the two brothers run away, leaving Stegothesaurus to manage on his own. However, the girl dinosaur is actually an Allothesaurus. Will the two dinos become friends? Find out in the twist ending.
Crunch the Shy Dinosaur by Cirocco Dunlap
Say hello to Crunch, the shy dinosaur. Hello! Ooops, you were too loud. Now Crunch is hiding. Can you spot him? Maybe if you sing the birthday song, Crunch will come out of his hiding spot. Nicely done.
If you tell Crunch your name, he can paint it on that huge rock. Sorry, you can’t see it. Your name is hidden behind a pile of leaves. Still, you can thank him. Thank you! Yikes, your voice startled him! Now Crunch is worn out from all this socializing.
An interactive bedtime read that’s fun for dinosaur-loving preschoolers.
How the Dinosaur Got to the Museum by Jessie Hartland
Millions of years ago, a diplodocus dinosaur died. Its bones settle into a Utah riverbed, and in 1923 a dinosaur hunter uncovers a large leg bone. A paleontologist from the museum arrives to confirm that it is a dinosaur, and a moving team is assembled to ship the bones across the country.
After seven years of cleaning, making plaster parts for missing bones, building a steel structure to hold the massive bones, to get the skeleton on display. Plus, the dinosaur has gone through 14 different experts.
This nonfiction book is a fascinating look at all the people that make it possible for one dinosaur to become a museum exhibit.
What Kind of Car Does a T. Rex Drive? by Mark Lee
Uncle Otto is having a sale at his used car lot, but when a stegosaurus arrives on the lot, Uncle Otto has no idea what to recommend to a dinosaur. Luckily, Ava and Mickey are on hand to offer suggestions because soon a pterodactyl and triceratops amble into view.
Astute observers, the kids find the right vehicle for each dino customer, but will they be able to find something acceptable for an ornery T. Rex? If your child loves dinosaurs AND vehicles, this is the book for them.
The Girl and the Dinosaur by Hollie Hughes
Marianne lives by the sea and digs each day to at last uncover a dinosaur. When her dino skeleton is complete, she retires to bed and wishes on a star that her new discovery would come to life. And that’s just what happens. Happy together, the two ride through a moonlight night, past fairies, and land on an island just for children and their dinosaur friends.
A lovely look at childhood imagination told through rhyming text and sweeping images
We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins
Penelope Rex, a young tyrannosaurus, is anxious to start her first day of school. Her mother buys her a new backpack. Her father packs her a hearty lunch of 300 tuna fish sandwiches. And off she goes.
However, when she discovers that all her classmates are children, well, the temptation to eat them is too difficult to resist. Penelope’s teacher, Mrs. Noodleman, firmly tells her to spit out her classmates, and Penelope has to figure out a better approach to making new friends. When Walter, the class goldfish, gives Penelope a taste of her own medicine, well, that’s enough to dissuade this beloved dinosaur from devouring her classmates ever again.
(Note: Don’t miss the sequel to this humorous favorite!)
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