Despite their fearsome appearance and unpronounceable names, children adore dinosaurs. When I was a child, I had a T-Rex toy that I regularly fed bits of food and then pretended to attack other dinosaurs. I was a complete girly-girl, but T-Rex provided an outlet for my more savage side. In many current picture books, dinosaurs tend to represent the kind of questionable (but entertaining) behavior that children frequently engage in, namely, disregulation, with a touch of ferocity.
If I was planning on throwing a civilized tea party, this would be the last character I would want to invite. T-Rex initially comports himself well, but the temptation to misbehave soon overwhelms him and his menacing size quickly becomes problematic. Despite his terrible behavior, which includes almost eating a teddy bear and drinking tea out of the hostess’ hat, all is forgiven and T-Rex returns the favor by throwing his own tea party for dinosaurs and children. I love children’s books where the illustrations intentionally clash with the text; in this case, the words as straight-laced as the pictures are outlandish.
Dinosaur vs. the Library
Dinosaur loves books, but does he know how to behave in the library? Kids understand the consequence of trying to contain a dinosaur in an enclosed space – complete chaos! But like other more humanoid, wild creatures, Dinosaur must learn the right way to act. Toddlers will also love Dinosaur vs. Bedtime and Dinosaur vs. the Potty.
How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?
Jane Yolen, Illustrated by Mark Teague
Yolen and Teague are superstars and this book truly deserves its popularity, as do many of the books in the How Do Dinosaurs… series. I love the detailing in this book, from the very realistic looking dinosaurs to looks of increasing exasperation (and maybe fear?) on the faces of the parents, when their beloved dinosaur offspring refuse to go to sleep. This book has been a regular part of our bedtime routine for years now and it never fails to elicit a laugh or a smile.
Dinosaurs Love Underpants
By Claire Freedman and Ben Cort
Many children already know the scientific reality behind the age of the dinosaurs: that it ended millions of years ago – long before humans walked the Earth. But it is much more fun to imagine early humans interacting with dinosaurs. In Dinosaurs Love Underpants, there is a standoff after a group of all-male cavemen came up with an amazing new invention – briefs, and dinosaurs start pursuing them. “I don’t want to eat you up,” menaces T. rex, “I want your underpants!” Of course, there are not enough underpants to go around, and the ensuing fighting eventually results in the demise of the dinosaurs. My son particularly enjoyed looking at the many kinds of underpants featured in this book.
The idea that dinosaurs evolved into birds may be a controversial idea with some people, but what about the idea that they evolved into trucks? After all, why not pair two major fascinations of young boys – dinosaurs and construction vehicles, and throw in a lot of potty humor to boot? This book may not be for everyone, but it is certainly original, as long as you can figure out how to pronounce names such as Dumploducus and Dozeratops. Fans of DinoTrux should also check out Revenge of the Dinotrux.
Dinosaur Dig pairs dinosaurs and trucks in a softer, gentler and somewhat less creative way. I like this book because it provides the names of all of the different types of dinosaurs and vehicles, which is always helpful when reading to inquisitive children. My son likes how they worked together to build a prehistoric water park.
By Kurt Cyrus
Tadpole Rex is my son’s favorite dinosaur book and it is not even really about dinosaurs, it is about a tadpole that thinks he is a T-rex! Few species remain from the Jurassic Era, but it apparently frogs are one of them. By watching realistic-looking dinosaurs interact with a more familiar animal, children can appreciate how enormous they would seem in our modern world.
By Bob Barner
Today, we mostly know dinosaurs from their bones and when children visit museums, like we did the other day, they are primarily looking at skeletons. Dinosaur Bones is a straightforward explanation about what we actually know about the creatures and why we know it. For more detailed information about dinosaurs for slightly older children, check out The Magic School Bus in the Time of the Dinosaurs.
By Paul and Henrietta Stickland
When my children were babies, this silly book of opposites was one of our top picks. The illustrations are farcical, and the language is simple and direct. “Dinosaur roar, dinosaur squeak; Dinosaur fierce, dinosaur meek.” I probably read this book a hundred times and eventually it ended up in five pieces, which is a toddler’s highest compliment.
By Karen Beaumont and Illustrated by Daniel Roode
Small children will also go wild for Dini Dinosaur, a childlike dinosaur who can’t seem to take off all of his clothes before he gets in the bathtub. The fun, repetitive language makes this a perfect read-aloud for groups of preschoolers, and early readers (like my son) will recognize many sight words. Dini proves that while dinosaurs may be extinct, they remain in the hearts and minds of children.
More Picture Books about Dinosaurs
Early Readers about Dinosaurs