Many kids go through phases of what researchers call “intense interests.” After vehicles, the most common one is dinosaurs! What’s so fascinating about these prehistoric creatures? Well, for starters, `it’s pretty mind-blowing that new species are still being discovered regularly. (Do you harbor an adult fascination with dinosaurs? You’ll want to read this title.)
The awesomeness of dinosaurs as a children’s book topic is no secret. Dinosaurs are equally appealing in fiction and nonfiction titles. Plus, there are so many curriculum possibilities, including learning about classification, fossils, extinction, and more. There are TONS of dinosaur books for kids, so how do you choose? We narrowed down this list of our favorites for you.
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1. Penny Dale’s Dinosaur books (Pre-K–1)
These masterful mergers of dinosaurs and other high-interest topics—space exploration, construction, emergency rescue vehicles, pirate treasure, and more—are engaging read alouds for the younger grades. They’re versatile, too; we love using them for teaching about print concepts, phonological awareness, retelling, and making inferences using the pictures.
2. We Love Dinosaurs by Lucy Volpin (Pre-K–1)
This rhyming text professes its love for dinosaurs of all shapes, sizes, and habits … and we love all the descriptive vocabulary!
3. How Do Dinosaurs … series by Jane Yolen (Pre-K–1)
This classic series has withstood the test of time. We love the many titles for modeling visualization, reading with expression, and attending to punctuation. Young students can learn a thing or two from these dinos, too.
4. Dinosaur Farm by Frann Preston-Gannon (Pre-K–1)
What this witty twist on the standard tale of a hardworking farmer lacks in pigs, cows, and horses, it makes up for in prehistoric creatures. The illustrations depicting all the work it takes to care for a farm full of dinosaurs are perfect for encouraging students to make inferences.
5. Brontorina by James Howe (Pre-K–2)
Brontorina Apatosaurus is desperate to dance, but her size—and others’ doubts—make it seem impossible. With her perseverance and the kindness of others, she gets her wish in this sweet story that shows the inclusive power of a little ingenuity.
6. Tiny T. Rex and the Impossible Hug by Jonathan Stutzman (Pre-K–2)
Most stories portray T. rex as a king of beasts, but in this one, Tiny T. Rex just wants to find a way to give his sad friend a hug, despite his short arms. This story of persistence, acceptance, and friendship could spark many important classroom discussions.
7. There’s a Dinosaur on the 13th Floor by Wade Bradford (Pre-K-2)
This funny tale follows Mr. Snore on his floor-by-floor search for a quiet room at the Sharemore Hotel. We don’t meet the dino from the title until the end, but she exemplifies everything the hotel’s name suggests.
8. What the Dinosaurs Did Last Night: A Very Messy Adventure by Refe and Susan Tuma (Pre-K–2)
What kind of mischief would toy dinosaurs get into if they came alive at night? This book is photographic evidence of the havoc they could cause, as documented by two imaginative parent authors. Maybe you’ll even bring Dinovember, their month-long tribute to childhood wonder, to your classroom.
9. Dino Sports series by Lisa Wheeler (Pre-K–2)
Carnivores and herbivores compete in a wide variety of sports, from football and hockey to dancing and swimming, in these rhyming titles that kids LOVE. Brush up on your dinosaur names and your sports terminology before reading aloud!
10. Crunch, the Shy Dinosaur by Cirocco Dunlap (Pre-K–2)
Crunch wants a new friend, but he’s not the easiest brontosaurus with whom to connect. There are plenty of examples here to start a class discussion about meeting new friends where they are.
11. Dad and the Dinosaur by Gennifer Choldenko (Pre-K-3)
Nicholas’s favorite dinosaur is a lot more than a toy. It helps him be fearless and strong, just like he imagines the real dinosaurs were. When it gets lost, his dad knows just what he needs in this heartwarming story about what it means to be brave.
12. The Dinosaur Expert by Margaret McNamara (K–3)
Superstar teacher Mr. Tiffin is back (Should we set him up with Ms. Frizzle?), and this time he’s taking his class to the natural history museum. The star of this story is budding paleontologist Kimmy, who’s dismayed by the male-dominated examples at the museum. When Mr. Tiffin points out a profile of Dr. Brandoni de Gasparini, her outlook changes. Back matter includes information about notable female paleontologists.
13. Mad Scientist Academy: The Dinosaur Disaster by Matthew McElligott (2–4)
It may only be the first day of school, but it’s immediately clear that Dr. Cosmic is not the average teacher in this comic book–style picture book. Students must make their way through a realistic dinosaur exhibit (learning as they go) to find the class pet, Oscar the “dinosaur.”
14. Dinosaur Empire (The Earth Before Us #1): Journey Through the Mesozoic Eraby Abby Howard (3–5)
This exciting graphic novel series opener takes Ronnie, a reluctant science student, on an enlightening journey back in time with her retired-paleontologist neighbor, Ms. Lernin.
15. Dinosaur Boy by Cory Putman Oakes
When rising fifth grader Sawyer Bronson grows stegosaurus spikes and a tail over summer break—the result of a human-dino DNA lab mix-up generations ago—the physical and emotional implications are tricky. With themes of bullying, integrity, and identity (plus dinosaur facts), this novel is for kids who like a fast-moving, twisting plot. Also check out the companion title, Dinosaur Boy Saves Mars.
Fact-Filled Dinosaur Nonfiction
16. Dinosaur A to Z by Roger Priddy (Pre-K–1)
Besides 26+ pages of fascinating dinosaur info, this is a fantastic mentor text for writing informational alphabet books. It has an engaging introduction to one dinosaur for each letter of the alphabet, plus informational text features like labels, size comparisons, pronunciation guides, and bolded text sprinkled throughout.
17. National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Dinosaurs by Catherine D. Hughes (Pre-K–2)
In this title, dinosaurs are organized by size, prompting plenty of great conversations about comparisons. Dinosaur books are—understandably—some of the only National Geographic titles without their signature amazing photographs, but the realistic illustrations are definitely the next best thing.
18. Fly Guy Presents: Dinosaurs by Tedd Arnold (K–3)
The popular early reader character duo will draw kids in, and this spinoff series packs plenty of memorable information. Especially noteworthy is how it dispels some common myths about dinosaurs.
19. Prehistoric Actual Size by Steve Jenkins (K–4)
This title and its non-paleontological companion, Actual Size, will always have a spot in our math-books collections despite the fact that they are so large, they never fit in any bin (argh!). The true-to-life illustrations of dinosaur parts—and one entire dinosaur—make a memorable impression. It’s also a great resource for helping kids understand that dinosaurs weren’t the only prehistoric creatures.
20. Dinosaurs (National Geographic Kids Reader) by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld (K–2)
Standard nonfiction features mixed with jokes and other extras will keep kids reading. A conversational tone walks newly minted readers through key questions like, “Where did dinosaur bones come from?” and “What did dinosaurs look like on the outside?”
21. In the Past by David Elliott (1–5)
Take a trip back through the ages with these descriptive and witty poems that introduce creatures from epochs gone by. There are familiar players, like T. rex, and plenty of lesser-known species, too, all illustrated in breathtaking detail.
22. Science Comics: Dinosaurs: Fossils and Feathers by MK Reed (3–6)
This installment of the popular and engaging graphic nonfiction series covers the history of paleontology like it’s never been presented before. Riveting!
23. Dinosaurs: A Visual Encyclopedia, 2nd Edition by DK (3 and up)
This is not your dusty Encyclopedia Britannica. Recently updated to include new discoveries about feathered dinosaurs, this comprehensive 300-page volume covers prehistoric life from dinosaurs and birds to early mammals, invertebrates, and vertebrates.
What are your favorite dinosaur books for kids? We’d love to hear about them in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.