I was looking for suggestions for dinosaur books for preschoolers and instead, I found this image by Dave Kellett over at SheldonComics.com. It essentially confirmed I will never know as much about dinosaurs as I did when I was four years old. However, being the parent of a four-year-old is a close second.
Our four year old is our third child, so we’re not new to the dinosaur love. In fact, when the first child hit this craze, we realised we were better off shelving the kids books in accordance with the Dewey Decimal System rather than alphabetical order…or colour or size or anything else really. Well, to be really honest, the dinosaur books were never shelved. There were books on the floor (dinosaur books) and books on the shelves (not-dinosaur books).
As much as it sounds like I’m dissing on the dinosaurs, I really love our dinosaur books! They have been the most inspiring and creative books we have ever owned. The best dinosaur books for preschoolers inspire play! Our dinosaur books have encouraged spontaneous cosplay, dinosaur digs complete with paint-brushes and sifting trays, potted dinosaur gardens, and very excited discussions about meteors and dinosaurs during our star-gazing sessions.
Harry and the Dinosaurs and the Bucketful of Stories written by Ian Whybrow and illustrated by Adrian Reynolds
This is NOT to be mistaken with the TV series—There is no jumping into a bucket or psychedelic rainbow rides. Instead, we have a sweet story about Harry, a preschooler who lives with his mum, sister, and Nan. When Harry discovers some old dinosaur toys hidden away in a dusty box in the attic, we have our first introduction to the magic of this book. The dinosaurs don’t start talking to him straight away; as my preschooler points out, “That’s not how magic works, Mum. Harry has to earn their magic. They don’t start talking to him until AFTER he cleans and fixes and takes care of them. That’s the real magic, Mum. Don’t you know about dinosaur magic?”
There is a whole series of books but if you’re looking for the best place to start, pick up Harry and the Dinosaurs and the Bucketful of Stories. There is also More Adventures with Harry and the Dinosaurs, with another fave five stories to read. And then there are a whole bunch of individual books, like Harry and the Dinosaurs First Sleep-Over. Oh, and then there is a great little chapter book for when your preschooler moves on to primary school and thinks they aren’t allowed to be dinosaur-fans anymore but secretly they are still in love with dinosaurs and always jump at the opportunity to read to their little sister…Oh, c’mon! We all have kids like this, right? If so, then you need to buy Harry and the Dinosaurs Roar to the Rescue!
Activity: Find a beach bucket and fill it with small dinosaur toys. Preschoolers love carrying things and this is the perfect connection for them to share with others. Our middle child carried his bucket with him everywhere for over a year. Yes, I still have the bucket and the books.
Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs written by Giles Andreae and illustrated by Russell Ayto
This book has been removed from the night-time reading selection and transferred to the ‘reading at any other time of day’ collection. It is the type of book you should not read before bedtime (for a selection of less rambunctious books suitable for bedtime, check out our recommendations here).
Captain Flinn is a preschooler who discovers a pirate in the school’s storage room. Apparently it’s the best place to sulk when your beloved ship has been stolen by Pirate Dinosaurs. The only thing that could make this any better would be an invigorating pirate shanty…Oh, wait! That’s why we can’t read it before bed!! The pirate dinosaurs have the best pirate shanty for preschoolers!! Our preschooler taught the kids at school, and the parents were thanking me for weeks afterward. *grin* Totally read this book for the pirate shanty.
Activity: Compose your own pirate dinosaur sea shanty!! The only requirement is for 50% of the words to be ROAR.
You Look Yummy! by Tatsuya Miyanishi
This is the first of the Tyrannosaurus series, and much loved amongst some of my fellow Book Riot crowd. I like this one the best because I love Ankylosaurus. Hey! Everyone has a favourite, whether or not you have your own preschool buddy to compare notes with.
This is about a newly-hatched Ankylosaurus who bonds fiercely with the first dinosaur it sees: a Tyrannosaurus who looked at it and said “You Look Yummy!”, so, of course, the ankylosaurus assumed its name was Yummy. What transpires is a sweet story about the sacrifices made by a parent for the love of a child. After reading this with our preschooler, we now have our own secret language: “I love you so much, I would give up a hamburger for your plate of berries.” Read the book and you’ll understand just how much I love my kids. *wink*
Activity: Who wants a berry-hamburger? This one is perfect for a ‘swapsies’-picnic. Pack your kid’s favourite food in your lunchbox but offer to swap with them. BFF.
Curious George’s Dinosaur Discovery by Margret & H.A. Rey
I love this book almost as much as my kids do. Curious George is a favourite series known all around the world. We have the Chocolate Factory, the Maple Syrup, the Zoo, and a few others. However, none of they have elicited the same level of excitement as Curious George’s Dinosaur Discovery. This book is so good, our preschooler was wondering around our home, dusting everything while she looked for dinosaur bones. Now, given this does say something about the state of our home, it has never looked better than when our youngest was aspiring to be a paleontologist. Thanks to a cute little monkey, she learned about the museums, dinosaur dig sites, all the little tools required, and the lo-o-o-o-ng and arduous task of discovering dinosaur bones.
Activity: Mix about four (4) cups of flour with about ½ cup of vegetable or canola oil. Make sure you mix it really well until it creates a soft, silky, crumbly sand. Put the ‘sand’ in a large kitchen storage container and bury some toy dinosaurs. Give this to your preschooler with a paint brush and spoon. Now you can finally enjoy your <insert beverage of choice here> for five minutes while your preschooler is entertained.
Dinosaur Kisses by David Ezra Stein
This one is for the preschooler who has more in common with a newly-hatched T-Rex still discovering its feet. You know the kid I’m talking about: the one who STOMPS! and WHOMPS! and does everything with so much enthusiasm!! However, they simply cannot master the delicate nature of a kiss. Yes, I was that kid (I think I still am…) and this book is perfect for kids just like me. It is all about a gorgeous little dinosaur who wants to try a “kiss”—without whomping, chomping, or stomping the other dino first! It is the sweetest and most innocent little dinosaur book! You will want to go around kissing everything afterward…or at least whomping, chomping, and stomping!!
Activity: Kelly has the perfect DIY project for dinosaur bookends!! You can make it with the dinosaurs kissing your books! Or you could make it with the dinosaurs WHOMPING the books. It is completely up to you. Okay, it is up to you AND your preschooler. These are, after all, dinosaur books for preschoolers (…and parents).
Boy, Were We Wrong About Dinosaurs! written by Kathleen V. Kudlinski and illustrated by S.D.Schindler
And then there is the preschooler is knows more about dinosaurs than anyone else in your social circle. This is not helped by Granny Mac gifting them a book she pulled from a garage sale, dating back to the 1970s and referring to Brontosaurus. For those who are not four years old or a paleontologist or the parent of either of those, Brontosaurus is now believed to be an Apatosaurus mistakenly classified as a new species. It was the most famous dinosaur of all time…and not real. *sigh* See, paleontology is still a science; there will be errors and we need to learn from them. Sometimes preschoolers need to be reminded of this, rather than seeing adults as useless idiots who fall into the valleys of ignorance. Thanks to Kudlinski and Schindler, we may have a chance of redeeming some pride in our parenting. I mean, at least we don’t think of dinosaurs as magical dragons anymore, right? And this is why we have dinosaur books for preschoolers to read to their parents.
Activity: Build a potted dinosaur garden, with plants from the time of dinosaurs! It’s a lot easier than you think. You’re looking for ferns and cycads (also known as palms). Small baby plants are best for a kids garden, and a lot more affordable. If you are after more direct instructions, check out my personal project with my four-year-old.
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur by Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare and illustrated Natacha Bustos
Confession time: this is my personal favourite because it ticks all the boxes: Marvel comics; kick-arse girl in the lead role; diversity; intelligence; and did I mention it is a comic? Lunella is a nine-year-old African American girl who is considered to be the smartest character in the existing Marvel Universe. That’s right, Tony Stark. You just sit your butt back down and wait until you have all that AND A DINOSAUR.
The main character is slightly older than your average preschooler, however, the storytelling for Lunella is insightful and appealing in that inspirational way. I would rather have my preschooler looking up to Lunella than Peppa Pig any day of the week. Side note: I totally agree with fellow Book Rioter, Sonja; This book needs to be a video game. My four-year-old and I would absolutely rock when we team up as Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. Hey Marvel!! Make it a thing!
Activity: Release your inner Godzilla and go to town!! Well, you will have to build a town first. This part is fairly easy: Take any boxes, blocks, pillows, anything around the house to create buildings and streets. Then take it in turns with your preschooler to unleash your Devil Dinosaur!! Extra loud RAAWWWWRRRS!! are mandatory.
Now, just between you and me: Out of all the ‘phases’ our kids have gone through, I think the end of the dinosaurs will hit me the hardest. *sniff* Until then, I will cherish our books and take every opportunity to create more dinosaur adventures for our preschooler. If you have suggestions for dinosaur books for preschoolers, please share them in the comments! We all need to make these moments last a little longer!