Dinosaur books are captivating reads! Something about the giant reptiles from so long ago really gets preschoolers’ imaginations going. There are many fiction and non-fiction dinosaur books written for preschoolers for this very reason! Some favorite classroom-tested dinosaur books to keep little learners engaged and roaring for more are described below.
Nonfiction Dinosaur Books
One of the best things about dinosaur books written for preschoolers is how accessible the authors make the information – even with the sometimes unwieldy names and terminology. Finding a developmentally appropriate book about other topics such as earthquakes or magnets can be challenging. Still, non-fiction dinosaur books for this age group are plentiful – and students eat them up! Here are some favorites!
You Can Be a Paleontologist! by Scott D. Sampson, Ph.D.
This book has a lovely question-and-answer style, making it great for circle time reading and individual exploration! Written by Dr. Scott Sampson, the host of a popular PBS television show, Dinosaur Train, the realistic photos and insets, along with the preschool-friendly text, captivates students and adults alike. A glossary in the back is excellent for more inquisitive learners.
Extending the Learning: Students can pretend to be paleontologists in the playground! Equip students with paintbrushes and shovels and let them explore in the dirt or sandbox to see what treasures they can uncover.
Lifesize Dinosaurs by Sophy Henn
This gargantuan book really “measures up!” It alternates between facts and impressive “life-sized” pictures of different dinosaur body parts. Readers are encouraged to see how their hand measures up to dinosaurs’ claws, teeth, and feet. The book’s last page even folds out to show a full-sized T-rex mouth, complete with teeth.
Extending the Learning: Draw a T-Rex footprint (about 1 meter long and 46 cm wide) on the ground using sidewalk chalk. Ask the children to predict how many students will fit inside the footprint. Record the answers, and then test it out!
First Dinosaur Encyclopedia by DK First Reference
This book is part of the well-loved DK reference series. While not a read-aloud-style book, it has nearly 140 pages full of facts, stats, and gorgeous pictures. It’s great for a child to explore independently or for the teacher to use a few pages during circle time.
Extending the Learning: Many cities have natural history museums with dinosaur fossils. Take a field trip if possible, and if not, take a virtual trip to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and explore from the classroom!
Dinosaur Lady by Linda Skeers
Did you know that a woman was the first paleontologist? This beautifully illustrated story with easy-to-understand language teaches students about Mary Anning, the world’s first paleontologist. More in-depth information is in the back for curious learners and teachers alike!
Extending the Learning: Create a hands-on activity with this fun fossil craft to go along with the dinosaur theme!
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Fiction Dinosaur Books
Fiction nurtures emotional intelligence, open-mindedness, and imagination. It’s also just good old-fashioned fun! Here are some of the best fiction dinosaur books for the preschool classroom.
When Dinosaurs Came with Everything by Elise Broach
A young boy dreads having to go on errands with his mother until they discover that everyone is giving away DINOSAURS instead of lollipops, stickers, and balloons. As the mother begins to panic, she shortens the errands. Once they arrive home (and mom has a moment to wrap her head around things), she also finds chores for the dinosaurs! An enjoyable “what if” book!
Extending the Learning: Encourage students to use their imagination. What kind of dinosaur can they make up? What is it called? How does it eat? What does it look like? And what store would give away their dinosaur free with purchase? Use their handprint as a base to create a picture of their dinosaur – when the paint dries, students can add details.
Tiny T. Rex and the Impossible Hug by Jonathan Stutzman
Tiny T-Rex has a BIG problem. He wants to help cheer up his friend, Pointy, with a hug. But how can he hug when his arms are so short? A wonderful book teaching empathy and persistence, the adorable main character asks everyone he can how to become a better hugger. This is the first in a series of Tiny T-Rex books, so if the students love it, there are more stories to explore!
Extending the Learning: Sometimes, little learners have ENORMOUS feelings. Try different dinosaur moves to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It” to practice those feelings. If you’re grumpy and you know it, stomp like a Stegosaurus, angry, growl like a T-rex, happy – flap like a Pterosaur, and more!
Groovy Joe: Ice Cream and Dinosaurs by Eric Litwin
Groovy Joe is so excited about his ice cream that he just has to sing. But his song brings some unexpected visitors! What will Joe do? Share, of course! But what happens when the ice cream runs out?
Extending the Learning: In the book, Joe makes a drum from the empty ice cream container. Make some homemade instruments and have a jam session! You can also listen to this story (free!) on Eric Litwin’s website HERE.
Franklin’s Class Trip by Paulette Bourgeois
Franklin is very excited about his class trip to the museum…until Beaver tells him there are dinosaurs inside! How will Franklin manage to be inside a building with REAL dinosaurs?
Extending the Learning: In the museum, the characters saw dinosaur bones. Make bones in the classroom from salt dough with this recipe:
- Combine 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of salt, and 1 cup of water in a bowl.
- Knead the dough until it is firm.
- Shape the dough into bones.
- Bake the “bones” at 325° F for about 30 minutes.
Edwina: The Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct by Mo Willems
Everyone in town adores Edwina. She bakes chocolate chip cookies, helps little old ladies cross the street, and is friendly and kind. So, of course, everyone loves her. Everyone, that is, except Reginald Von Hoobie-Doobie, the town know-it-all. He is determined to get someone to listen to him talk about the fact that Edwina is actually extinct…so what will happen?
Extending the Learning: Use different dried pasta shapes to create a dinosaur craft. Drizzle some white glue onto construction paper or cardstock and stick the pasta to the glue to create a dinosaur skeleton from the pasta noodle.
Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs by Byron Barton
Bright illustrations and simple text make this book a favorite of early readers! The main text of the book is comprised of simple descriptions of dinosaurs. For the preschool dino experts (and their teachers), there is an illustrated list of popular dinosaurs with their names and pronunciations in the back of the book.
Extending the Learning: Make a volcano! Fill a cup halfway with water. Add 5 Tbsp baking soda and a squirt of dish soap. Red food coloring is a great addition as well. Then, slowly add 1 cup of white vinegar and watch it “erupt” in the classroom!
More Dinosaur Resources
Preschoolers can’t get enough of dinosaurs, so here are some more fun activities to bring the classroom into the Jurassic era!
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