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Top 10 Children's Books About Dinosaurs


I’m not sure what it is about dinosaurs that appeals to children, but dinosaur books continue to be popular with all ages. Children's books about dinosaurs for younger kids tend to be funny (see the last three books on this list), but there are also many excellent nonfiction books for children eager to learn more facts about the creatures. Here is a brief look at a variety of books. Young children with a serious interest in the subject may also enjoy the books for older children if you read them aloud.

1. A Dinosaur Named Sue

cover art - A Dinosaur Named Sue

This nonfiction book will interest kids eager to learn about the study of dinosaurs. It was written by Pat Relf, with the Sue Science Team of Chicago's Field Museum, and covers the 1990 discovery of a nearly complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton, its removal, and transport to the Museum for study and reconstruction. The engaging writing style and the many color photographs make this a favorite with 9-12 year old readers and as a read-aloud for younger kids. (Scholastic, 2000. ISBN: 9780439099851)

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2. Digging for Bird-Dinosaurs

This 48-page book, part of the excellent Scientists in the Field series, chronicles the work of paleontologist Cathy Forster on an expedition to Madagascar to research whether birds evolved from dinosaurs. The account of how Cathy's childhood interest in dinosaurs and fossils led her to her profession should be of particular interest to 8-12 year olds. The field work is well illustrated in words and photographs by nature photographer Nic Bishop. (Houghton Mifflin, 2000. ISBN: 9780395960561)

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3. e. guides: Dinosaur

This book is for the serious student of dinosaurs (ages 9-14) who wants the benefit of a reference book and reliable Internet resources. The 96-page book is filled with illustrations and detailed information about dinosaurs. It also has a companion Web site. The book covers how to use the Web site, what a dinosaur is, the bird connection, habitats, extinction, fossils, fossil hunters, scientists at work, reconstruction of dinosaur skeletons, and more. (DK Publishing, 2004. ISBN: 0756607612)
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4. Dinosaurs

If your three- or four-year-old is obsessed with dinosaurs and wants to know more, I recommend this non-fiction book from the Eye-Openers series. Originally published by DK Publishing, it features a series of two-page spreads on different dinosaurs, with photos of lifelike models, smaller illustrations, and simple text. The text, while limited, includes information on the dinosaurs’ size, eating habits, and appearance. (Little Simon, An Imprint of Simon & Schuster, 1991. ISBN: 0689715188)
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5. Searching for Velociraptor

This first person account of a search in the Gobi Desert for Velociraptor remains is fascinating. Written by the two paleontologists from the American Museum of Natural History who led the expedition, the 32-page book is illustrated with more than three dozen color photographs of the project. Highlights include the hunt for fossils, success on the final day of the expedition, digging up the Velociraptor skeleton, and researching it back at the Museum. (HarperCollins, 1996. ISBN: 9780060258931)

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6. Scholastic Dinosaurs A to Z: The Ultimate Dinosaur Encyclopdia

This is an excellent reference book for 9-12 year olds who want specific information on the many different dinosaurs. Each of the hundreds of individual listings contains the name of the dinosaur, a pronunciation guide, the classification, size, time in which it lived, location, diet, and additional details. Carefully rendered illustrations by artist Jan Sovak are an asset. The book’s author, Don Lessem, has written more than 30 books about dinosaurs. (Scholastic, Inc., 2003. ISBN: 978-0439165914)

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7. National Geographic Dinosaurs

This 192-page book stands out because of the detailed paintings of dinosaurs. The book was written by Paul Barnett and illustrated by Raul Martin, a paleo-artist. The first third of the book provides general information while the remainder provides descriptions of more than 50 dinosaurs. A map, a chart comparing the dinosaur’s size to that of a man, a detailed painting, and photos are some of the graphics that accompany the written descriptions. (National Geographic, 2001. ISBN: 0792282248)
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8. How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?

This book is a perfect bedtime book. With simple rhymes by Jane Yolen and funny illustrations by Mark Teague, bad and good bedtime behavior is modeled by dinosaurs. The parents in the story are human and the scenes are of homes much like we live in. However, the children in the homes are all dinosaurs. This is sure to tickle a child's funny bone. This is one of a series of dinosaur books for young children written and illustrated by Yolen and Teague. (Blue Sky Press, 2000. ISBN: 9780590316811)

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9. Danny and the Dinosaur

A young boy, Danny, visits the local museum and is surprised when one of the dinosaurs comes to life and joins him for a day of play and fun around the town. The controlled vocabulary, imaginative story, and appealing illustrations have made this I Can Read book popular with kids who have just started to read without assistance. The Danny and the Dinosaur series by Syd Hoff has entertained several generations of beginning readers. (HarperTrophy, 1958, reissue edition, 1992. ISBN: 9780064440028)

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10. Dinosaur!

This engaging wordless picture book for 3-5 year olds is by artist Peter Sis. A little boy steps into the tub to take a bath and play with his toy dinosaur, and his imagination takes over. From very simple and childlike illustrations, the artwork becomes very detailed and colorful, with a long foldout scene of dinosaurs in the wild. The boy is a part of the scene, bathing in a tub-size pool of water. As the last dinosaur leaves, his bath ends. (Greenwillow Books, 2000. ISBN: ISBN: 9780688170493)

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