January 26, 2010
I read too many dinosaur books when I was a kid. It was so bad that the school librarian even called in my parents to express concern over my reading habits. If there was a book about dinosaurs in the library, I’d read it and then read it again.
That was a long time ago, though, back when many of the children’s books about dinosaurs showed them as drab, tail-dragging monsters. Things have changed a lot since then, so here is a brief list of some more up-to-date books that will be sure to entertain young dino fans:
The appeal of this intricately-constructed pop-up book immediately became apparent when I could not tear myself away from it. True, the text was a bit sparse, but the numerous pop-ups and side panels kept me well entertained. It is a must-have for any lover of dinosaurs and pop-up books.
Every aspiring dinosaur hunter needs a handy compendium (or two or three or…) of different dinosaurs, and National Geographic Dinosaurs is a solid choice. Full of high quality photographs and restorations, it is one of the most visually appealing dinosaur books for kids, and the generous amount of text will keep them well-informed as they want to learn more.
The “How Do Dinosaurs …” Series
Ok, so maybe they are not that educational, but books like How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? and How Do Dinosaurs Love Their Cats? are a lot of fun. It is especially good to see some dinosaurs that don’t get much attention, such as Cryolophosaurus, getting some attention.
As paleontologists have learned more about dinosaurs, our image of them has changed, and Boy, Were We Wrong About Dinosaurs! contrasts what we thought we knew with what we know now. This allows the book to bring in the history of science along with details about the dinosaurs, and it helps children recognize some of the mistakes that still pop up in restorations now and then. (Not like they need much help. Just use the word “Brontosaurus” around an enthusiastic dinosaur fan and you will get an earful.)
Not every dinosaur book needs to be general. The Discovery and Mystery of a Dinosaur Named Jane is a more specific title that describes the fascinating discovery of a juvenile Tyrannosaurus nicknamed “Jane.” The book takes readers from the discovery of the fossils to their display in a museum, and the wonderful original artwork of paleoartist Michael Skrepnick makes this book even better.
While the text might be a little heavy for younger readers, this is most comprehensive and up-to-date book on dinosaurs available. Written by paleontologist Thomas Holtz, the book covers all the traditional ground (how fossils are formed, the early history of paleontology) but is unique in covering the whole swath of dinosaur diversity. No group is left out, and the eye-popping illustrations by Luis Rey will no doubt make this book a favorite of readers who love dinosaur restorations. Indeed, this is a good book for dinosaur nuts to grow on as they get older, providing the background for especially enthusiastic readers to eventually make the jump to science books written for more mature audiences.
Those are just a few of my current favorites. What are yours?
Sign up for our free email newsletter and receive the best stories from Smithsonian.com each week.