This week I have a collection of dinosaur books for kids of all ages! And to set the mood, check out this awesome dino-information packed song: Dinosaurs by The Whizpops! — the entire album, Science and Wonder, is fantastic!


Dinosaur Discoveries, New Edition by Gail Gibbons

Dinosaur Discoveries by Gail Gibbons (Holiday House; ages 6-9) is packed with information about the scientific study of dinosaurs organized into short sections that are written perfectly for the targeted early reader audience.

The book starts by giving an introduction to the study of paleontology, geologic time and the current theory of dinosaur extinction. It then organizes discussion of dinosaurs by their scientific groups (e.g. Prosauropod, Sauropod, Theropod) with general information about each group. The illustrated dinosaurs are further classified via layout by the period in which they lived (e.g. Jurassic) and labeled with their scientific name and a brief history of the name’s origins.

Overall, this book is an easy yet intellectually satisfying read that provides just enough information to satisfy curious novices without overwhelming data or provoking young imaginations to fear (i.e. no grisly T. Rex attack descriptions). It would be an excellent read for any introductory geology, paleontology, or dinosaur unit.


The first fossils scientists determined to be those of a dinosaur were discovered in England in the 1820s. Dinosaurs died millions of years ago, and over time, sand, mud, and other materials covered them. Over many, many years, the bones of the dinosaurs turned into fossils. Dinosaur fossils have been found lying on the ground or embedded in earth or rock. Many dinosaur fossils have been found by amateurs, sometimes by accident. Other fossils have been found by paleontologists. In 1842, Sir Richard Owen, a scientist, named the creatures whose fossils he was studying dinosaurs, which means “terrible lizard” in Greek. A FOSSIL is the remains of a plant or animal that lived at least ten thousand years ago. Over millions of years, rivers, ice, and rain sometimes wore away the rocks surrounding FOSSILS. A PALEONTOLOGIST is a scientist who learns about ancient life by studying fossils.


SAUROPODS were the largest of all dinosaurs. They were long-necked plant eaters. Sauropods were the tallest and largest of all dinosaurs. They moved about on four legs that supported their enormous weight. They held their long tails off the ground to counterbalance their long necks. Some sauropods grazed in herds for protection. When predators appeared, some sauropods may have used their whiplike tails to make a loud, cracking sound to scare away their enemies. Argentinosaurus was possibly the heaviest creature to have ever walked on land. It weighed as much as 100 tons (90 tonnes). JURASSIC Camarasaurus means “chambered lizard.” The dinosaur was named this because its veterbrae had air spaces, or chambers, in them. Brachiosaurus means “arm lizard.” The dinosaur was named this because of its long front legs. Apatosaurus means “fraud lizard.” The dinosaur was named this because some of its bones deceptively looked like those of another dinosaur. Diplodocus means “double beamed.” The dinosaur was named this because of the double row of bones inside its tail. CRETACEOUS Saltasaurus means “Salta lizard.” The dinosaur was named after Salta province in Argentina where it was found. Argentinosaurus means “Argentina lizard.” The dinosaur was named for Argentina where it was found. It was about 98 feet (30 m) long.


Dinoblock by Christopher Franceschelli, art by Peskimo

Dinoblock by Christopher Franceschelli, art by Peskimo (Abrams Appleseed, ages 1-4) is the perfect first introduction to dinosaurs and executed at least as well as its predecessors, Alphablock and Countablock — excellent books as well.

Each of the 21 featured dinosaurs are introduced with a fun, relatable fact (e.g. “I am heavy like three full cement trucks . . .”) illustrated in Peskimo’s cheerful, eye-catching style. Then a clever page turn transforms the image into the associated dinosaur accompanied by its scientific name and a phonetic spelling (much appreciated by parents everywhere).

The art, page turn design and textual brevity makes this an accessible read for babies. The reference facts and images (with multiple pictures of trucks for wheel-obsessed kids like my son) make it fascinating for toddlers. And the inevitable re-readings make parents experts at pronouncing even the most challenging dinosaur names.

Overall, this is a fun and accessible introduction to dinosaurs that lays an excellent foundation for more advanced reading. It’s one of our family’s favorites, a great story time selection, and a book I’m eager to buy for new parents!














Fossil by Fossil: Comparing Dinosaur Bones by Sara Levine, illustrations by T.S Spookytooth

Fossil by Fossil: Comparing Dinosaur Bones by Sara Levine, illustrations by T.S Spookytooth (Millbrook Press; ages 5-10) is a book my entire family fell in love with instantly.

Opening with a skeletal comparison of dinosaurs and humans, this book highlights their broader similarities thus setting the stage for an imaginative and engaging inquiry into the structure and function of skeletal features unique to dinosaurs.

Each featured dinosaur is introduced with an appeal to the reader to imagine themselves with one of these unique skeletal features (e.g. “What if you had a bony ridge that rose up from the back of your skull and three horns poking up from the front?”). A page turn then reveals an illustration of the referenced dinosaur’s skeleton and information about the theorized function of the highlighted structure. Although the book is brief, it manages to include Ichthyosaurs (similar to dolphins), Pterosaurs (the first animals with bones that could fly), and birds (yes, BIRDS are now considered to be dinosaurs).

The superb illustrations are anatomically accurate and simultaneously fun with delightfully expressive depictions of kids discovering and fascinated by dinosaur fossils.  Clear and concise text selectively presents fascinating information with writing that is a pleasure to read. This book would be great for teaching units on dinosaurs or broader introductions to anatomy. It also serves as nice conceptual introduction to evolution.

As a science-loving doctor, Fossil by Fossil tugs on all of my heart-strings and is a home run in my book. But I should note that my kids are also just as enamored, so I’d say it has broad appeal. We love it so much that I’m looking forward to collecting the other books in this series: Tooth by Tooth: Comparing Fangs, Tusks, and Chompers (Millbrook Picture Books) and Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons.


On the outside, people and dinosaurs look very, very different. But on the inside, we’re actually very similar. In fact, the bones that make up our skeletons are mostly the same. How can we know this? Dinosaurs are all dead, right? Lucky for us, some of their bones have lasted as fossils—bones that have turned to stone over time. Dinosaurs and people all have skulls and vertebrae and ribs . . .


A STEGASAURUS! Why did this dinosaur have these plates of bone? Scientists have argued about this for a long time. Some think the plates helped stegosaurus soak up the sun and stay warm. Others think they might have just been there to impress other dinosaurs, kind of like a fancy outfit. What scientists do agree on is that the sharp, spiky bones at the end of stegosaurus’s tail were probably used for defense. What if we added lots and lots of extra vertebrae in your neck? And what if your vertebrae didn’t stop at your rear end but kept going and going and going?


An ICHTHYOSAUR! Ichthyosaurs were similar to dolphins. Not only did their bones look alike, but they were also warm-blooded, ate fish, and had babies that came out tail first, just like dolphins. They used their paddle-shaped limbs for swimming. How about if your pinkie bones grew really, really long and a membrane of skin was attached to these bones? What kind of prehistoric reptile would you be if this happened?