Selected and annotated by Michelle Biwer
Running the gamut from dinosaurs as pets to dinosaurs as villains, and even to dinosaurs as favorite folktale characters, this list includes picture book fiction and nonfiction titles appropriate for pre-K through grade 4.
Bardhan-Quallen, Sudipta. Tyrannosaurus Wrecks!; illus. by Zachariah OHora. Abrams, 2014. 32p. 4-7 yrs.
As Apatosaurus, Velociraptor, and many other dinosaurs carefully craft, build, and learn, clumsy Tyrannosaurus keeps wrecking everything because he does not know his own strength. At first the other dinos shun Tyrannosaurus, but eventually they attempt to protect their hard work by teaching Tyrannosaurus how to check his surroundings before making sudden movements.
Bauer, Marion Dane, Dinosaur Thunder; illus. by Margaret Chodos-Irvine. Scholastic, 2012. 32p. 5-7 yrs.
Whenever Chad hears thunder he gets excited and dances in the middle of the room, while his younger brother, Brannon, hides under the bed in terror. Brannon’s family members each tell him a comforting metaphor about thunder, but Brannon is still scared until Chad finally tells him that “thunder is only dinosaurs stomping around.” Brannon gets very excited by this news, and joins Chad in the “dinosaur thunder dance.”
Bliss, Harry. Bailey at the Museum. Scholastic, 2012. 32p. 3-7 yrs.
Bailey is a confident canine who is very excited to go with his class (made up of humans) on a school trip to the Museum of Natural History. Naturally, Bailey is most excited by the dinosaur bones. When he climbs onto a T. rex skeleton, a museum guard comes to his rescue. Now friends, Bailey and the museum guard follow his class from exhibit to exhibit as the guard prevents Bailey from getting into any more trouble.
Fern, Tracey. Barnum’s Bone: How Barnum Brown Discovered the Most Famous
Dinosaur in the World; illus. by Boris Kulikov. Ferguson/Farrar, 2012, 40p. 7-9 yrs.
In 1897 the American Museum of Natural History in New York City hired paleontologist Barnum Brown to find dinosaur fossils for the museum. Largely due to Brown’s contributions, by 1936 the museum had acquired the largest collection of dinosaur bones in the world, including the world’s first T. rex skeleton.
Guiberson, Brenda Z, The Greatest Dinosaur Ever; illus. by Gennady Spirin. Holt, 2013. 32p. 4-7 yrs.
It is up to you to decide which dinosaur was the greatest of them all! Twelve of our favorite prehistoric friends each explain the reasons why they are in fact the greatest dinosaur that ever lived. A pronunciation guide is provided for each creature.
Hughes, Catherine D., ed. National Geographic Little Kids: First Big Book of Dinosaurs; illus. by Franco Tempesta. National Geographic, 2011. 128 p. 3-7 yrs.
A well-organized and consistent nonfiction guide to dinosaurs, the creatures are organized from smallest to largest. Each dinosaur species gets a short descriptive paragraph of identifying characteristics, a full-page color illustration, a description of when it lived, what food it ate, and how to pronounce its name.
Idle, Molly. Camp Rex. Viking, 2014. 32p. 4-7yrs.
Camp Rex is the only guidebook you need when camping with your dinosaur friends. Idle covers all the essential tips for exploring the outdoors, such as “refrain[ing] from disturbing the natural landscape.” The charming illustrations demonstrate everything that could go wrong if you bring a hapless T. rex on your scouting adventure. Be sure not to follow in the footsteps of these campers!
Liu, Julia. Gus, the Dinosaur Bus; tr. By Jamie White; illus. by Bei Lynn. Houghton, 2013. 32p. 4-6 yrs.
Instead of a boring yellow contraption, Gus the dinosaur bus is the preferred method of transportation for kids getting to and from school. Then the school’s principal removes Gus from his duties due to community complaints. Gus may no longer be the dinosaur bus, but the kids love their new playmate and every day they visit Gus the dinosaur slide, swing, and playground.
O’Connor, George. If I Had a Triceratops. Candlewick, 2015. 32p. 4-6 yrs.
The narrator knows owning a triceratops would be a lot of work, but he is sure he is up for the challenge. He promises to walk her and let her snuggle up in bed when she is scared. He won’t even mind if his triceratops eats his homework because if he had a triceratops to come home to everyday, it would all be worth it in the end.
Shaskan, Stephen. The Three Triceratops Tuff. Beach Lane/Simon, 2013. 32p. 4-7 yrs.
In this retelling of “The Three Billy Goats Gruff,” the triceratops brothers Stanley, Rufus, and Bob Tuff set out to get some food. Unfortunately, they find a T. rex guarding the entrance to a valley with plentiful greenery. The triceratops go down to the valley one-by-one and trick the T-Rex into letting them enter and get their well-earned vegetarian meals.
Shea, Bob. Dinosaur vs. the Potty; written and illus. by Bob Shea. Hyperion, 2010. 32p. 2-5 yrs.
All potty-trainees-in-progress and their parents will be able to relate to Dinosaur, who is convinced he does not need to use the potty. After a long day of water-related activities, Dinosaur finishes splashing in a puddle and does his victory dance. Dinosaur’s victory dance quickly turns into a potty dance as he frantically runs to the toilet, but will he make it there in time?
Shea, Bob. Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads; illus. by Lane Smith. Roaring Brook, 2014. 32p. 5-8 yrs.
As soon as Sheriff Ryan arrives into town he is told that a bank and a stagecoach were robbed and that someone has been insulting the prize chili. When Sheriff Ryan accuses a T. rex, a Velociraptor, and a Stegosaurus of these terrible crimes, the real perpetrators get so offended that they shut themselves inside the jail to prove that they are “real bonafide criminals.”
Stein, David Ezra, Dinosaur Kisses. Candlewick, 2013. 32p. 3-5 yrs.
Dinah the Dinosaur just hatched from her egg and is so excited to STOMP and CHOMP like all the other dinosaurs. Then Dinah sees two tiny animals kiss, and decides to try that next. But instead of kissing the animals she encounters, she accidentally WHOMPS, STOMPS, CHOMPS and eventually eats them, and the book ends with Dinah trying out her new skills on a recently hatched dinosaur as they “kiss” (headbutt) their way to happiness.
Trine, Greg. The Adventures of Jo Schmo: Dinos Are Forever; illus. by Frank W. Dormer, Harcourt, 2012. 106p. Gr. 2-4.
When Jo receives a Superhero Instruction Manual in the mail she starts solving crimes with her dog, Raymond. Her first mission: taking down Dr. Dastardly, a scientist who wishes to release reanimated dinosaur skeletons onto the unsuspecting populace.
Reynolds, Aaron. Here Comes Destructosaurus!; illus. by Jeremy Tankard. Chronicle, 2014. 32p. 3-5 yrs.
All parents with a young toddler will be able to relate to the narrator of this book, who attempts to stop Destructosaurus from ravaging the city. Of course, like toddlers, Destructosaurus has trouble communicating its problem, so it continues to destroy everything in its path until it finds what it was really looking for: its giant teddy bear.
Willems, Mo. Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs. Balzer + Bray, 2012. 34p. Gr. 2-4.
In this unconventional Mo Willems retelling of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” three dinosaurs make their beds, set up their chairs and make pudding before leaving their house to go “Somewhere Else.” “Somewhere Else” turns out to be the woods behind their house, where the dinosaurs wait for an unsuspecting kid to trap and eat for a scrumptious chocolatey snack.