I call this “Dabbling in Dinosaurs” because the books I’m featuring–the books BoyChild loves!–are in no way informative or in-depth; they just dabble. Since dinosaurs are his favorite topic right now but he doesn’t care in the slightest about any scientific information about them, these books are right up my three-year-old’s alley!
Inside-Outside Dinosaurs, by Roxie Munro (2009): This is the closest to educational these books will get. We bought this book for BoyChild after he chose it from the library and wept openly when we had to return it. (Don’t worry–we commiserated with him, returned it anyway, and waited for a gift-giving opportunity to give him his own so he wasn’t rewarded for crying about returning a book!) Several dinosaurs are featured, and many more are shown in the background of the images (and identified in the back of the book). The featured dinosaurs are shown as a skeleton and have the dinosaur’s name and the meaning of the name. The next spread shows that dinosaur as it might have looked in its natural habitat (with other dinosaurs in the background, too). The last few pages of the book feature outline drawings of the scenes pictured in the book, have colored dots to identify each dinosaur shown, and give the pronunciation and some information about the main dinosaur in the image. (BoyChild never looks at this part, but I’m sure that will come with time.)
Dinotrux, by Chris Gall (2009): “Millions of years ago prehistoric TRUCKS roamed the earth. They were HUGE. They were HUNGRY. But they weren’t helpful like they are today.” So begins this silly story of how modern trucks came from the smart dinotrux that escaped extinction and civilized themselves to become the helpful vehicles they are today. With silly names like dumploducus and dozeratops and sight gags like the rollodon squashing a lizard and a few dinotrux leaving smelly messes, the book is probably best for slightly older kids who have a bit of background information on dinosaurs and vehicles and what they’re called (because each dinotrux creature is a reptile version of a vehicle and each name is a portmanteau of a dinosaur name and a vehicle name) and like and understand somewhat subtle potty humor, but BoyChild enjoys browsing this book alone (like he does for a lot of books he loves) and looking at the pictures despite not really getting what’s going on at all. To him, it’s just dinosaurs that kind of look like trucks, and that works for him! (There are also a few others in this series.)
Dinosaur Kisses, by David Ezra Stein (2013): I first saw this book when we were away from the kids on a short trip, and I almost bought it for BoyChild as a souvenir because I knew he’d love it! (I then realized that it had nothing to do with Nashville and could either be bought cheaper elsewhere or checked out from the library for him, so I was wise and left it on the shelf.) Little Dinah, a newly hatched carnivore of some sort (probably a t-rex) tries stomping and chomping, but then she sees a kiss and wants to try that. After several failed attempts (she always manages to stomp or chomp her intended kissee instead!), she finally finds the perfect creature to get dinosaur “kisses.” David Ezra Stein also wrote Interrupting Chicken, a favorite at the grandparents’ house (because some of the granddaughters call my dad Papa): a Caldecott winner and another hilarious read-aloud for kids.
Dinosaur Vs. (series), by Bob Shea (2008-2014): You have to really get your roar on when you read these books aloud to kids! BoyChild will have us read these until we’re absolutely hoarse. With copious amounts of victorious roaring and titles like Dinosaur vs. the Potty and the recently released Dinosaur vs. School, how can you go wrong? My personal favorite is probably Dinosaur vs. the Library (where the little dino finally quiets down for story time!). Roar, roar, roar–Dinosaur wins!
How Do Dinosaurs…? (series), by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague (2000-2013): From the first entry in the series, How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?, to the most recent ones, How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah? and How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas?, these hilarious books pose rhetorical questions about all the inappropriate ways the dinosaurs could respond to the given situation and then come back and declare all the right ways the dinosaurs actually respond. What could possibly end up being just a humorous, rhyming manners lesson (albeit very charming and not didactic) is made absolutely hysterical by the illustrations of enormous, realistic-but-anthropomorphic dinosaurs (acting like any young child might) in human homes with human parents! (Also, the name of each dinosaur is incorporated into the drawing somehow, often along the tail, but sometimes as a part of the background picture, like magnets on the fridge.) BoyChild’s current favorite is How Do Dinosaurs Say I’m Mad? and GirlChild likes the jokes in How Do Dinosaurs Laugh Out Loud?
These are some of BoyChild’s favorites! If you happen to know of any light-reading dinosaur books for little ones with an early interest or if you know of any good dinosaur books for the very young with more of a scientific bent, leave a comment!