It should come as no surprise that dinosaur books for kids are as popular as ever. Who doesn’t love dinosaurs? Whether we’re viewing them on the big screen, playing dinosaur apps and games, taking in dinosaur bones at a museum, or watching animatronic re-creations of them lumbering around a landscape, it’s almost impossible to avoid being alternately compelled and terrified by these hallmarks of a world long gone. “They are creatures bigger than us, sometimes bigger than our imaginations,” says Jeffrey Salane, the editorial director for Simon & Schuster’s imprint Little Simon. “They are terrifying, fascinating, and just plain cool all at once.”
“Dinosaurs are the rare characters that you could probably drop into any situation and instantly create a story worth reading,” he adds, noting that they can make for compelling subjects for both fiction and nonfiction, and as protagonists or background elements for the narrative. Here’s a look at a number of dinosaur children’s books that young readers may find thrilling, educational, and flat-out fun.
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If the Dinosaurs Came Back
by Bernard Most
Summer of 2018 will bring a fifth Jurassic Park movie to theaters across the globe. Clearly, the juxtaposition of ancient reptiles and the modern world is a sight to behold. In this classic work, Most envisions some decidedly practical functions that dinosaurs might be able to accomplish in the present day.
by Todd H. Doodler
When one thinks of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, “giant carnivore” and “nightmare fuel” usually come to mind. That’s turned on its head in Todd H. Doodler’s Rawr!, which features one seriously cute T. Rex — in this case, a well-intentioned one who’s baffled by everyday school routines — that you’re likely to encounter in any kind of kids dinosaur book.
by Eric Rohmann
The more we learn about dinosaurs, the more we recognize their connections to their closest living descendants, birds. That’s the subject of this wordless tale, named a Caldecott Honor book when it was first published, that revolves around the interaction between a bird and a dinosaur within a museum.
by Sandra Boynton
As long as you’re not standing directly below them at the time, a bunch of dinosaurs deciding to cut a rug is probably a sight to behold. That’s exactly what you get in this dinosaur book by Sandra Boynton.
by Molly Idle
Odds are, you’ve heard the expression “bull in a china shop.” The central concept of Molly Idle’s Tea Rex is a bit like that, except with a Tyrannosaurus rex attending a tea party. That juxtaposition is the stuff of which memorable images are made – and is one of several books by Idle to put dinosaurs front and center.
Dinosaurs Love Underpants
by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort
Some dinosaur children’s books are rooted in science, striving to impart a sense of accuracy and the historical record to even the youngest of readers. Dinosaurs Love Underpants is not one of these books – but if you’ve ever wondered how underpants might have factored into the extinction of dinosaurs, your answer might be found within these pages.
Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Dinosaurs (Pop-Up)
by Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart
Some of our interaction with dinosaurs depends on surprise – whether it’s the shock of seeing them in contemporary surroundings or the thrill of seeing one in the midst of a hunt. There are plenty of surprises to be found within this gorgeous pop-up dinosaur books for kids as well, encompassing everything from the everyday lives of dinosaurs to the modern-day search for their fossils.
Dinosaurs: The Most Complete, Up-to-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages
by Dr. Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Sometimes, when you’re obsessed with dinosaurs, you might just want to go straight to the science – or, at least, to get a comprehensive look at nearly every dinosaur known to humanity. That’s where this massive guide to dinosaurs, designed to be friendly for readers young and old, comes in. Younger readers can lose themselves in the illustrations, while parents can delve into the science behind how dinosaurs lived; it’s a win for everyone, really.
Dinotopia: A Land Apart From Time
by James Gurney
James Gurney’s novel Dinotopia imagines a place in which dinosaurs remained alive until the present day: a concept that’s fascinated authors for nearly as long as human have known about the existence of dinosaurs, period. Add in some lush illustrations and a great attention of detail and you have a story that remains compelling years after its initial publication. Read it out loud to the young ones, or let this be your dino-loving fourth grader dive into this dinosaur children’s book.