20 Great Dinosaur Picture Books For Kids (or Grownups)

We never reached dinosaur obsession level with Boy Detective, but he was always definitely open to a good book about giant prehistoric lizards who could crush you with one footstep. For the young (or not so young) reader in your life who’s amused by similar thoughts, here’s our list of well-written dinosaur picture books for kids. (Disclosure: Amazon links are affiliate links.)

My picture book posts were published and then occasionally expanded between 2012-2015, with reviews based on reading with my kiddo between preschool age and about eight years old. As of 2023-24, I’m freshening up my lists and adding more recs.

Sammy and the Dinosaurs (1999) by Ian Whybrow, illustrated by Adrian Reynolds

This is one of my favorite children’s picture books ever, because it captures the specific quality of a child’s deep love for a subject. In this case, it’s Sammy’s love for dinosaurs, as represented by his collection of plastic dinosaurs. This isn’t about materialism or toys, it’s about him knowing all of their names, and their place in his heart. Lovely book. (It was published in the U.K. as Harry and the Bucket of Dinosaurs, then got a name change to come across to the U.S. That practice in publishing, of changing the characters’ names, continues to baffle me!)

If the Dinosaurs Came Back (1978) by Bernard Most

Sudden reappearance of prehistoric creatures? No problem! There are all sorts of jobs they can do. I like Most’s bold, colorful art style and matter of fact narration of the child’s imaginative proposals for integrating dinos into modern society.

Tyrannosaurus Was A Beast (1988) by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Arnold Lobel

I firmly believe that Prelutsky composed this whole book just to laugh to himself as grownups everywhere stumble over pronouncing “Quetzalcoatl” multiple times. There is a pronunciation guide, though, and it’s worth the pain because the poetry in this book is really quite funny. (Be aware, though, that it’s very matter-of-fact about the dinosaurs’ dietary preferences and may be too gory for some kiddos.)

Good Night, Dinosaurs (1996) by Judy Sierra, illustrated by Victoria Chess

The back cover has this text: “Scientists know many things about dinosaurs: When they lived, where they lived, what they ate, how big they were. But what went on at little dinosaurs’ bedtimes has always been a mystery. Until now.” That gives you the author’s sense of humor in a nutshell, and the book did not disappoint. It’s in verse, but not overwhelmingly so, and has plenty of jokes that both parents and kids will enjoy. The dinos are drawn just short of goofy (especially the pteranodons in their nightgowns). Good bedtime choice, as well as endearing for dinosaur fans.

Edwina, The Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct (2006) by Mo Willems

I have such fond memories of my mother-in-law reading this to my rapt preschooler. I’m not sure how I had forgotten Reginald’s last name, but I did, so I got to enjoy it all over again when I re-read this recently.

“Everyone in town loves Edwina, a fun-loving dinosaur who makes scrumptious chocolate cookies, helps old ladies, and plays with the children, with the exception of Reginald Von Hoobie-Doobie who is determined to prove that dinosaurs are extinct!”

When Dinosaurs Came With Everything (2007) by Elise Broach, illustrated by David Small

Errands have never seemed so wonderful! If you’re a kid. If you’re a grownup, they’ve never seemed so completely out of control! This “what if” book had Boy Detective empathizing with both the excited kid and his freaked-out mom who are surprised to discover that today, instead of stickers or lollipops, for every business they visit they get a free dinosaur. What are they going to do with all of them?!

The Super Hungry Dinosaur (2009) by Martin Waddell, illustrated by Leonie Lord

What happens when an extremely hungry and rude dinosaur crashes into your backyard, threatening to eat your family and even your dog? You save the day and teach that dinosaur some manners, that’s what! Lord’s art is fun, and the victorious kid narrative never gets old around here.

Are the Dinosaurs Dead, Dad? (2012) by Julie Middleton, illustrated by Russell Ayto

The dialogue between an inquisitive child and his know-it-all father in this book is nice and simple, leaving plenty of space for giant, hilariously quirky depictions of dinosaurs in the museum, their “caution” signs… and their strange activities which seem to indicate that maybe they aren’t as extinct as dad keeps claiming. The bar chart of extinction is my favorite page.

Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads (2014) by Bob Shea, illustrated by Lane Smith

When a new sheriff comes to town, you better hope his paleontology is up to snuff. Otherwise, how will he ever catch the gang of criminals known as the Toad brothers? Don’t wait for that to make sense. Just read the book. It’s one of the funniest children’s books I have ever read. The new sheriff rides a tortoise. The outlaws kiss livestock on the lips. The dialogue is taciturn and perfectly crafted to be hilarious, not a word is wasted. Shea and Smith make an excellent team!

And here are the books I’ve read on my own since my kiddo got too old for them; they’re all fantastic! I haven’t had a chance to write reviews or pull the covers yet, but click on through and see if one of them might be perfect for you.

And that’s the list!