Dinosaur books abound, but few of them actually teach kids many facts about the giant lizards they love so much. These ten terrific dinosaur books are the best of the best–engaging and educational–absolute must-reads for the dino-lover in your home.
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When I became a mom six years ago, I knew I had a lot to learn. I knew I would be teaching my kids the alphabet, counting, and the difference between blue and green. I did not, however, realize that being the mom of three boys would require me to get an honorary PhD in paleontology and construction. Seriously, I had NO idea how much time I would spend reading about dinosaurs and trucks.
Growing up, I knew my basic dinosaurs. Stegosaurus…Triceratops…and of course, Tyrannosaurus Rex. But six years into life as a boy mom, I can tell you the difference between a theropod and a sauropod. I can correctly spell Parasauralophus on the first try, and I can explain to you why a pterodactyl is actually NOT a dinosaur.
The good news is that I think dinosaurs are amazing, so I don’t mind all the hours I’ve spent reading about them. We even took our boys to visit Dinosaur National Monument a couple of years ago where we were able to touch real dinosaur bones that have been partially excavated from the side of a mountain. COOL!
My six-year-old dreams of being a paleontologist when he grows up, and I love to support his dream. Because of this, I’m pretty sure we’ve checked out just about every dinosaur book our library carries. Some have been fabulous…and some…not so much.
One thing I struggled to find were books that actually taught something about dinosaurs, rather than just being fun stories (which is totally fine sometimes, too). But, after scouring the library for years, we’ve found some fabulous educational books that are geared toward young kids (my 3-6 year old boys love these!).
Since I’m pretty confident that my kids are not the only ones completely obsessed with the Mesozoic Era, I thought I’d share some of our favorite dinosaur books. If you have a dinosaur lover in your house, be sure to check them out!
10 Terrific Dinosaur Books for Kids
How Big Were Dinosaurs
This book helps kids really understand how big dinosaurs were by comparing the size of various dinosaurs to things kids can understand. And not just big dinosaurs either…Did you know that a velociraptor was only the size of an average dog?
Here’s a fun preschool learning activity that we did with this book…Dinosaur Footprints: Preschool Measuring Activity
I am NOT a Dinosaur
As someone who values accuracy in language, I love that this book teaches kids what IS and IS NOT a dinosaur (fun fact: a pterodactyl is NOT). With an introduction from the Chairman of Paleontology at the American Natural History Museum, fossil photos, and helpful charts, this book goes the extra mile to create a book that is as informative (and accessible) as it is beautiful.
Down at the Dino Wash Deluxe
The story is silly and completely unrealistic (but oh so entertaining), but the gem of this book is that there is an appendix in the back of the book that shows each dinosaur, how to pronounce its name, and some facts about it.
Alphasaurs and Other Prehistoric Types
This creative alphabet book artistically creates the shape of each dinosaur using the first letter of its name. More than that, each page is filled with interesting dino-facts that your aspiring paleontologist will love. This is one of those rare masterpieces that is as beautiful to display as it is entertaining to read.
The Magic School Bus: In the Time of the Dinosaurs
I love The Magic School Bus. I was entranced by the quirky class’s adventures as a kid, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reliving my chcildhood as I’ve shown them to my boys (p.s.-Did you know they are all one Netflix?!). In addition to the show, they’ve adapted the stories into books, too. Same fun stories, peppered with all sorts of facts that your paleontologist will eat up.
We don’t know exactly what dinosaurs looked like back their time, but we can imagine! In this book, kids can compare dinosaur skeletons to scientists’ hypotheses of their outer appearance based on the evidence we do have. The book also includes fun facts, further reading, and online resources.
Boy, Were We Wrong About Dinosaurs
Most people know about the great paleontology mistake that was “Brontosaurus” but what about all the other wild hypotheses about dinosaurs that have been disproved over the years? This book is great for teaching kids that making mistakes is part of the process of discovery.
My Visit to the Dinosaurs
Told from the perspective of a young boy who visits a dinosaur museum, this story gives a great overview of the story of the dinosaurs…when they lived, how they were discovered, and basic information about many of the fan-favorites in the dinosaur world.
How the Dinosaur Got to the Museum
In the style of “This is the House that Jack Built”, Jesse Hartland tells us the 145-million-year journey of a sauropod that was discovered in Utah in 1923. It’s a little long, so it may be a better bet for older preschoolers and up, but it’s great for vocabulary building (herbivore, curator, extinct, etc.).
National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Dinosaurs
This book is serious eye-candy for dino-lovers. It has a lot of text, so it might not be the best choice for young toddlers, but older preschoolers will love looking at the detailed pictures and learning about their favorite dinosaurs. It’s the kind of book that’s perfect to give your child during quiet time or in the car. My boys happily explore the pictures on their own, and then during story time we will read a few pages at a time, learning about whatever dinosaur they are interested in at the time.
There you have it. Ten terrific dinosaur books that will actually teach you something about dinosaurs.
Now, obviously, not ALL your dino-themed reading has to be fact-filled. Here are some of our favorite just-for-fun dinosaur books to read.
Just-for-fun dinosaur books
When Dinosaurs Came with Everything (an absolutely hilarious MUST READ)
How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? (who doesn’t love this one???)
Danny and the Dinosaur (a classic!)
Dinosaur Dig! (dinosaurs + construction = perfect for little boys)
Dino Pets (because who wouldn’t want to bring one home!?)
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This is so perfect for all the buzz with Jurrasic Park! A great way to help kids learn while they’re interested!
Thanks, Tabitha! I hadn’t even made that connection, but you’re right. Hopefully some dino-lovers out there will be inspired by the movie to pick up a book and learn more!
Rebekah @ The Mrs and Mama
This list is so great! What an awesome and fun way to teach kids about dinosaurs!
Thanks, Rebekah. One of my very favorite parts of mothering is reading to my littles. It’s just the perfect way to spend some quality time together (especially when momma is TIRED!).
When my now 15-year-old son was 4, he would have loved these. He was deep into dinosaurs. This week he was dropping some of the dinosaur knowledge he still remembers. These are great books!
Funny how some of the things we learn as kids stick with us!
This is so perfect, we are heading to a 4 year old’s dinosaur party this weekend, and I am totally buying one of these books for her.
I need ALL of these for my daughter haha I was completely obsessed with dinosaurs growing up. At one point, I wanted to be a paleontologist lol these are so cute!
Awesome! You’ll love these. I never really loved dinos as a kid, but I do now!
Dinosaurumpus! It’s a fun, quirky book with great rhythm and rhyming. I read it in my music preschool and loved it. Definitely doesn’t teach facts about dinosaurs but great for timing, beat, rhyming, easily adds movement and fun.
I’ll have to get that one, Rachel. Thanks for the recommendation!
This is a great list!! My kids have developed a huge interest in dinosaurs recently.