Top 5 dinosaur books for children

Top 5 Dinosaur Books for Children | the Maypop


Harrison loves dinosaurs. I’ve talked about how we look for dinosaurs in our neighborhood during our evening walks, about how we need just the right gear to search for fossils, and about how we spend countless hours reading library books on the topic or picking up books from our favorite bookstore.

Today, I want to talk a little bit more about the dinosaur books that Harrison likes the most. Our library has a twenty-five book maximum, and there have been many visits where we filled our basket with almost dinosaur books exclusively. I’d confidently say we’ve read more than one hundred dinosaur books, both fiction and nonfiction. Naturally, several books have risen to the top.

Below are the top five dinosaur books for children that we continue to check out again and again or have even added to our own home library.

Top 5 Dinosaur Books for Children


The Dinosaurs Of Waterhouse Hawkins

Top 5 Dinosaur Books for Children | the Maypop


This book is our favorite, and it is one we’ve added to our own personal collection.

Do you listen to the Stuff You Missed in History Class podcasts? Well, I feel like Waterhouse Hawkins should be one of the featured topics.

Seriously – until Harrison picked up this book at the library, I’d not heard of Mr. Waterhouse Hawkins. I did not realize that, in the mid-1800s, he created some of the first true-to-size models of dinosaurs. I was unaware that his dinosaurs were part of the Crystal Palace Exhibition.

And I certainly had no idea that several of his Crystal Palace Dinosaurs survive today.

If you’re intrigued, then you’ll love this book. Part story, part documentary, beautifully told by Barbara Kerley. It’s a longer read, but Harrison (4) sat through the entire book. It helps that is superbly illustrated by Brian Selznick, as is evidenced by the book’s Caldecott Honor distinction.


Dinosaur Named Sue: The World’s Most Complete T. Rex

Top 5 Dinosaur Books for Children | the Maypop

Harrison likes this book primarily because it is about a T Rex, his favorite meat-eating dinosaur. Specifically, it is the story of Sue, the largest, most complete, and best preserved tyrannosaurus rex skeleton ever found. With the Waterhouse Hawkins book, it’s the story that is so compelling to Harrison. With Sue, it’s the realism told in such detail. I can see his little mind absorbing every detail of Sue Hendrickson’s discovery.

This is the book that makes him want to be a paleontologist. This is the book that has him dragging me around the woods searching for T Rex skeletons.

Me? I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Sue in person at the Field Museum. I’m partial to this book because I’ve seen first-hand how magnificent she is and because knowing her story only makes her that much more astonishing.



Top 5 Dinosaur Books for Children | the Maypop


Similar to Sue above, Dinomummy is the story of a dinosaur fossil discovery, a duck-billed hadrosaur. What makes this fossil unique is that it is the best preserved dinosaur mummy – three-dimensional and complete with some skin and soft tissue!

What makes this story unique is that it is told from the perspective of Tyler Lawson, who was just sixteen at the time of his find and only six when he began hunting for dinosaur bones found his first fossils. The photographs in this story are really amazing too; even I found myself studying the pages, staring at the dinosaur mummy and especially its skin.

As with the book about Sue, Dinomummy has Harrison convinced that he himself can find a dinosaur fossil. In fact, I think he’s even more convinced by this story because he realizes Tyler was so close to his age when he found his first fossils. My challenge is encouraging this passion while also trying to explain that we don’t exactly live in the dinosaur fossil-rich Hell Creek, South Dakota area. We’ve found lots of shark teeth and ray crushing plate fossils, but they unfortunately pale in comparison to a tyrannosaurus rex skeleton or hadrosaur mummy.



Inside-Outside Dinosaurs

Top 5 Dinosaur Books for Children | the Maypop


This is a simple book, but it is still one of our top picks. Each two-page spread is illustrated with a dinosaur skeleton followed by an illustration of that same dinosaur, with skin and other details, on the next two page spread. The illustrations are fun, neither extremely juvenile nor overly scientific. The only words are the names of the dinosaurs and meanings of the names (ex: BRACHIOSAURUS, “arm lizard”). Harrison really likes “reading” this book independently and studying the pictures.

This book was one of the most helpful for early reading and letter recognition. I didn’t anticipate this when I checked it out at the library, and I was surprised when he wanted to spell every long name, pointing to each letter in every dinosaur’s name.


Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo

Top 5 Dinosaur Books for Children | the Maypop

Oh how we adored this story! This is a true work of magical fiction and fun. While on vacation, a safari in Africa to be specific, the Lazardo children stumble upon a dinosaur and the eccentric and wealthy parents agree that they can keep the dino as a pet. They name him Bob, and the hilarious adventures that follow are reminiscent of Emily Elizabeth and her adventures with Clifford the Big Red Dog.

Harrison giggled as we read this one, not so secretly wishing that we would stumble upon our own dinosaur pet. I secretly wished our vacations included a safari in Africa, but I’m getting off topic.

The pictures are fantastic; William Joyce is as great an illustrator as he is a story teller. It is a perfect bedtime story, with just enough ups and downs to stay interesting. I’d consider it a modern day classic, in fact.


Do you have a junior paleontologist on your hands too? What are your children’s favorite dinosaur books? Please share in the comments!


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