Tag Archives: children’s book reviews

10 Dinosaur Books Your Child Will Roar For

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.

Tea Rex
Molly Idle
Ages 3+

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
Bob Shea
Ages 2+

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
Ages 2+

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
Ages 3+

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.

Chris Gall
Ages 4+

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!
Penny Dale
Ages 3+

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.

Tadpole Rex
By Kurt Cyrus
Ages 4+

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.

Dinosaur Bones
By Bob Barner
Ages 3+

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.

Dinosaur Roar
By Paul and Henrietta Stickland
Ages 1+

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.

Dini Dinosaur
By Karen Beaumont and Illustrated by Daniel Roode
Ages 2+

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

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Part Two: More Inexpensive and Lightweight Chapter Book Series to Send With Your Child On the Bus

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote Part One of this post, detailing inexpensive series books your child might want to bring with them to school. That post focuses exclusively on box sets, which are great for economizing and easy to purchase. Unfortunately, many great series are not available as a collection. So, I have increased my budget to $6 a book on Amazon and focused in on nine series that are currently only available individually, plus one series of game books that are perfect for bus riders. The chapter book series listed are in order of guided reading level – going from easiest to hardest to read.

A is for Amber – Amber Brown Early Reader Series
By Paula Danziger
Look for:
It’s a Fair Day, Amber Brown , Get Ready for Second Grade, Amber BrownSecond Grade Rules, Amber Brown , What a Trip, Amber Brown , and more!
Premise: The A is for Amber books are the prequels for the Amber Brown series and are intended for a K-2 audience. Like the original series, these books focus on Amber’s emotions as she navigates tricky situations such as starting second grade with a new teacher and dealing with constantly bickering parents. This series is good for early readers and sensitive children.
My Daughter’s Rating:
Likes it
Average Price:
Reading Level of
Get Ready for Second Grade, Amber Brown according to Scholastic – Grade level Equivalent: 2.3, Lexile Measure®: 300L, Guided Reading: K

Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot
By Dav Pilkey, illustrated by Martin Ontiveros
Look for: Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot Vs. the Mutant Mosquitoes from Mercury , Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot vs. the Voodoo Vultures from Venus , Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot vs. The Mecha-Monkeys From Mars
Premise: Ricky Ricotta is a mouse with a giant robot. Together they save the world again and again from evil space aliens. Good for comic book lovers and reluctant readers. 
My Daughter’s Rating:
Likes it
Average Price:
Reading Level of Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot Vs. the Mutant Mosquitoes from Mercury according to Scholastic – Grade level Equivalent: 2.2, Lexile Measure®: 470L, Guided Reading: L

Cam Jansen
By David A. Adler
Look for: 
Cam Jansen and the Mystery of the Stolen Diamonds , Cam Jansen: The Mystery of the Dinosaur Bones, Cam Jansen: The Mystery of the U.F.O. #2 , and many more!
Premise: Cam Jansen uses her photographic memory to solve crimes and other mysteries. Good for kids who like detective stories.
My Daughter’s Rating:
Likes it
Average Price:
Reading Level
of Cam Jansen and the Mystery of the Stolen Diamonds according to Scholastic – Grade level Equivalent: 3.8, Lexile Measure®: 420L, Guided Reading: L

Secrets of Droon
By Tony Abbott
Look for:
The Hidden Stairs and the Magic Carpet , Journey to the Volcano Palace , The Mysterious Island and more
Premise: A group of children find a portal to a magical world called Droon. Good for fantasy fans.
My Daughter’s Rating:
Loves it
Average Price: $4.10
Reading Level
of The Hidden Stairs and the Magic Carpet according to Scholastic – Grade level Equivalent: 3.1, Lexile Measure®: 380L, Guided Reading: M

The Magic School Bus Chapter Books
By Scholastic
Look for: The Truth about Bats , The Search for the Missing Bones , The Wild Whale Watch, and many more.
Premise: The Magic School Bus Chapter Books explore many different scientific topics, while keeping to a fictional format. Good for children who enjoy learning facts.
My Daughter’s Rating:
Loves it
Average Price: $4.08
Reading Level
of The Truth about Bats according to Scholastic – Grade level Equivalent: 3.4, Lexile Measure®: 600L, Guided Reading: M

Geronimo Stilton
By Geronimo Stilton
Look For: Lost Treasure of the Emerald Eye , The Curse of the Cheese Pyramid , Cat and Mouse in a Haunted House, and many more!
Premise: Geronimo Stilton is a newspaper reporter mouse who goes on many adventures and has many misadventures. Good for reluctant readers, comic book enthusiasts and young comedians.
My Daughter’s Rating:
Average Price:
Reading Level
of Lost Treasure of the Emerald Eye according to Scholastic – Grade level Equivalent: 3.2, Lexile Measure®: 530L, Guided Reading: N

Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew
By Carolyn Keene
Look for
Sleepover Sleuths , Scream for Ice Cream , Pony Problems
Premise: Nancy Drew has been rebranded as a modern tween with assistant detectives. Mystery lovers will enjoy this series.
My Daughter’s Rating:
Likes it
Average Price: $4.49
Reading Level
of Sleepover Sleuths according to Scholastic – Grade level Equivalent: 3.2, Lexile Measure®: 580L, Guided Reading: N

Ruby Lu
By Lenore Look

Look for: Ruby Lu, Brave and True , Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything , Ruby Lu, Star of the Show
Premise: Ruby Lu is a second generation Chinese-American girl with a crazy/adorable little brother and a big personality. Good for Asian-Americans and immigrants / children of immigrants.
My Daughter’s Rating: Likes it, but it has been a while since she read this series
Average Price: $5.39
Reading Level of Ruby Lu, Brave and True according to Scholastic – Grade level Equivalent: 3.4, Lexile Measure®: 640L, Guided Reading: N

National Geographic Kids Chapters
By Kelly Milner Halls
Look for:
Best Friends Forever: And More True Stories of Animal FriendshipsTiger in Trouble!: and More True Stories of Amazing Animal Rescues , Dog Finds Lost Dolphins: And More True Stories of Amazing Animal Heroes
Premise: The books in this series read like a longer magazine articles. Great for children who love animals or enjoy nonfiction.
My Daughter’s Rating: Likes it
Average Price: $5.39
Reading Level according to National Geographic – Age Level 7-10

Mad Libs Junior and Mad Libs
Look for: Super Silly Mad Libs Junior , School Rules! Mad Libs Junior , Straight A Mad Libs
Premise: You provide the nouns, adjectives, and verbs. Mad Libs provides the rest of the story. Together, they produce tons of laughs.
My Daughter’s Rating: Loves this game
Average Price: $4.49 for Junior and $3.59 for normal Mad Libs
Grade Level according to Amazon – K-3 for Junior, Grade 3+ for normal Mad Libs

For more suggestions, go to Part One of this post. Happy Reading!


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