I readily admit that after our last storytime, I’ve been on a bit of a dinosaur kick. I actually never went through a dinosaur phase as a child, at least that I can remember, so I’m just considering this my bound to come eventually moment. I’m also going to blame it on two books that recently came out, one by Willems last fall and Idle’s this spring, that were so overflowing with dino-awesomeness that they turned me onto the cretaceous creatures.
With my recent search for great dinosaur books, and the fact that I know dozens of children who can’t get enough of these (mostly) humongous creatures, I thought it fitting to make a list of my current favorite dino-themed picture books. As with all of my lists, this is not exhaustive. I’m sure there are many more amazing books about dinosaurs that I just haven’t found yet and I do hope that if you know of them, you’ll tell me in the comments! Here we have my current favorite dinosaur children’s picture books for that avid dino fan in your life (and it is totally ok if that is you):
1. Brontorina by James Howe, illustrated by Randy Cecil, 2008
First on the list, which are in no particular order except what worked for pictures, is a charmingly sweet tale about fulfilling your heart’s desire no matter what shape you may be. Brontorina is a very large orange dinosaur who desperately longs to dance. She meets many obstacles along her path, most in the attitudes and skepticism of others, but some in the form of ceilings and shoe size. In her heart, she knows she is to be a ballerina and her size is only outmatched by her sweet determination and the affection of some kind-hearted people. A lovely book for any and all who feel unsuited for something they long to be.
2. How the Dinosaur Got To the Museum by Jessie Hartland, 2011
I’ve recently discovered the work of illustrator Jessie Hartland and I’m more and more intrigued by her loose, confident style and the non-fiction tales she constructs. In this fairly lengthy book that has a nice vocabulary repetition by the end, she shows how a dinosaur’s skeleton is discovered, prepared and eventually ends up on exhibit at the museum. Even if your scientific opinion differs about the history of dinosaurs, this book is a great piece about all the people, jobs and planning that is required to get those massive creatures where the general public can view and appreciate them.
3. The Mine-O-Saur by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, illustrated by David Clark, 2007
I have lots to say about my recent discovery and meeting(!) of author Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, but I’ll save that for a coming post about my current favorite book by her. In this dino tale, her fun text which has an interesting alternation between description and rhyme, is paired with David Clark’s colorful and quirky illustrations about a dinosaur called a Mine-o-saur who learns an important lesson between hogging toys and having friends. A story enjoyable by many ages, I can just hear the Mine-o-saur’s favorite refrain being laughed about, or mimicked, in every day life.
4. When Dinosaurs Came With Everything by Elise Broach, illustrated by David Small, 2007
I’m just going to be honest and say that I have a growing obsession with illustrator David Small. Thankfully he continues to deliver for all my random book needs by even illustrating Broach’s comedic tale about a young boy who, tired of typical errands with his mother, is shocked to discover a particular day when every purchase earns them a real, humongous dinosaur for keeps. This hilarious tale will delight everyone as the possibilities of errands continue to escalate and the boy must figure out what to do with all his new Jurassic friends and how to convince his mother to keep them.
5. Edwina: The Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct by Mo Willems, 2006
No list would be complete without a book by Mo Willems, it seems. And he of course has made a couple books with dinosaurs gracing the pages. This great book from 2006 is about friendly Edwina, who helps everyone, bakes great chocolate chip cookies, and is loved by all—except for a know-it-all little boy named Reginald. He is determined to convince everyone, including Edwina, that dinosaurs are totally extinct. If you love Willems, you’ll love this one. Go ahead and bake some chocolate chip cookies to go with it too.
6. The Tyrannosaurus Game by Steven Kroll, illustrated by Tomie dePaola, 1976
This is one of those great, odd vintage books that I picked up a couple years ago at some random used bookstore, and I continue to love it dearly and always look for the perfect opportunity to share it. On a particular rainy day, a brilliant teacher encourages her bored students to play a game of their own creation for entertainment. The kids tackle the idea with gusto and play a tell-a-story game passing it on to one another until they have concocted a fantastic tale about their classmates and a surprise visit from a Tyrannosaurus rex. Told via speech bubbles and a wonderfully limited color palette with classic dePaola characters, this is an incredibly fun book and perhaps will spark some spectacular story creations of your own.
7. Tea Rex by Molly Idle, 2013
There is absolutely no way that a list of great dinosaur books was not going to include the fabulous new book by Molly Idle. Combining a proper tea party, a not quite tame Tyrannosaurus, and the stunning illustrations of Ms. Idle’s enviable colored pencil work—this is a book not to be missed. In fact, you can also read more about it on my full review! Also, check out Molly Idle’s great list of her favorite dinosaur books.
8. My Visit to the Dinosaurs by Aliki, 1969
This is an interesting little book, actually part of a nice vintage series called “Let’s-Read-And-Find-Out” books. Created by the great illustrator, Aliki, it is a very informative book about dinosaurs, their names, habits and more. As it came from the late 60s, I would guess some of the information is outdated, and again, being non-fiction there are definitely some facts that not all agree with. Nevertheless, it is a sweet book with fun (vintage) illustrations and some great details about individual dinos.
9. Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems, 2012
I couldn’t help but add this second book by Mo Willems because I can’t help but love it. A hilarious take on the classic tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, you really have to read this one at least once in your life. Kids love it, adults love it, and morals abound. Although probably not the kind of morals you expect. Check it out in my full review, but most definitely in person!
10. Lulu and the Brontosaurus by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Lane Smith, 2010
Last on my list is a very different sort of story and picture book. Wanting to see this one in person for a while, I ordered it and was very surprised by the size and structure of the book when it arrived. It is long, and much more the size and shape of a short chapter book; but oh, is it ever great! Judith Viorst is a brilliantly humorous writer and the occasional illustration, by none other than the amazing Lane Smith, just makes this book awesome. The story is about a terribly awful little girl named Lulu, whom every parent hopes and prays not to be theirs, and her bratty insistence on owning a brontosaurus. Accustomed to always getting her way, Lulu bites off more than she can chew when the tables are turned and the idea of pet and wish-fulfillment is not what she had hoped for. Definitely geared for a slightly longer attention-span, this would make a great storytime/family read kind of book and will delight to no end.
Well, there you have it, my non-conclusive list of current favorite dinosaur picture books. Now, please tell me what Jurassic-themed books have made a space in your life recently.