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8 Brilliant Dinosaur Books For Pre-school Children

What is the most exciting topic in the early years? Why dinosaurs, of course! What could be more exciting than learning about enormous reptiles that lived two hundred and forty-five million years ago? Dinosaurs that came in all kinds of shapes and sizes that hatched out of eggs and could grow to the size of three buses? What’s not to like? Monstrous creatures in ginormous and tiny varieties that fire up the imagination are a brilliant and wonderful way to encourage children to learn new skills. 

Dinosaurs are a staple and popular topic in many pre-school settings and lots of young children can have a special interest or a developing interest in this topic. And that’s great because it’s a topic rich in learning opportunities, such as:

  • Developing new language skills

  • Learning new and extensive vocabulary 

  • Understanding size

  • Learning about color and shapes

  • Developing knowledge and understanding of the world

  • Developing imagination and pretend play skills

  • Developing physical and musical skills

  • Developing an interest in books

Fortunately, there is a wealth of dinosaur books aimed at pre-school children that have been published in recent years. Using a dinosaur book to introduce a topic is a great way to entice and engage the children to want to learn more, especially if the book has a strong character that they can identify with. I’ve shared some of my favorite dinosaur books for pre-school children below:

1. What Dinosaur Am I? A Lift-The-Flap Book by Peter Curtis

This is a chunky and durable board book so it’s great to use with younger children. It’s also engaging, as you have to lift the flap to see which dinosaur it is when you have read the clues. It’s short and perfect for children interested in dinosaurs but have a limited attention span. I like to use this book with an individual child or in a small group to introduce the topic and learn the long names of some of the most popular dinosaurs, like Diplodocus, Tyrannosaurus Rex and Triceratops. 

Follow up:

Set up a small dinosaur world. Cover some recycled boxes with a blanket or a sheet to create a bumpy landscape of mountains and valleys and place a few dinosaur toys into your small world. Leave the book nearby so that the children can look at the pictures and lift the flaps to remind them of the dinosaur names as they play.

2. Noisy Dinosaurs (Noisy Touch-And-Feel Books) by Jonathan Litton

This is a lovely book to introduce children to the noises that dinosaurs made. It’s a short book and ideal for pre-school children who have a limited attention span, and there are lots of bright pictures to engage them. The book is interactive as it has tactile pages to feel, plus exciting dinosaur noises and even pterodactyl screeches.

Follow up:

Do the dinosaur stomp! March around the room in a circle, stomping like a dinosaur. As you turn each page, make the loudest dinosaur sound you can. Encourage huge roars, show your terrible claws and open your enormous jaws! When you get to the pterodactyl page, flap your enormous wings and make a screech. 

3. Flip Flap Dinosaurs by Axel Scheffler

In this book, you match one dinosaur’s half to another dinosaur to make silly mixed-up dinosaurs. It’s a good idea to use the books above first so that the children are familiar with some of the names of the more popular dinosaurs.

What do you get if you cross a mighty Tyrannosaurus rex with a fearsome Triceratops? It’s a Tyrannotops, of course! And how about a giant Diplodocus with a soaring Pterodactyl? Well, that’s a Diplodactyl! There are plenty of prehistoric creations you can make and strange noises to make you laugh. 

This is a great book to engage children in books because it’s interactive, and bright, and you can’t help but want to turn the pages. 

Follow up:

Make your own dinosaur creations. Paint a dinosaur, draw a dinosaur or make a huge collage using lots of recycled materials like empty yogurt pots (eyes), plastic bottle tops (scales), and scraps of paper and material to make the body in many different colors and shapes. You can also use lots of recycled materials by building dinosaurs from junk modeling materials. 

4. If I Had a Dinosaur by Gabby Dawnay and Alex Barrow

This is a great book to encourage pre-schoolers to use their imagination. It’s about a little girl who dreams of having her very own pet. But what kind of animal would make the best companion? A mouse is too small; a cat is too ordinary; and a fish is too… wet! Then inspiration strikes. What about a real, live dinosaur? She could ride it to school. It would need lots of food to eat, a swimming pool to drink from, and a dino flap so it could come and go. 

At the end of a day spent busily imagining, the little girl trudges up to bed with her little plastic dinosaur. As she falls asleep, the dinosaur from her daydreams stands in the garden with its head poking through the bedroom window, making her dreams come true. 

I like to read this book to a small or large group of children, making sure they can all see the pictures as I tell them. It’s a good starting point for talking about pets (another popular topic with pre-school children) and for imagining what the children would do if they had a real-life dinosaur in their bedroom.

Follow up:

This is a perfect book to inspire some pretend play. After reading the book a few times, in your role play area, provide a couple of dinosaur costumes. Stand back and observe the children to see what they have remembered about the story. Leave the book nearby to encourage retelling the story and listen as their imaginations are fired up. 

5. Stomp, Dinosaur, Stomp! By Margaret Mayo

Another great book for very young children, this book has plenty of rhyming words and is perfect for children interested in dinosaurs. 

Mighty Tyrannosaurus loved stomp, stomp, stomping. Gigantic legs striding, enormous jaws opening… So, stomp, Tyrannosaurus, stomp!
There is a different dinosaur on each page, in this bright picture book. It’s just right for sharing with pre-school children who will love looking at the colorful pictures and joining in with all the sounds and action words. 

Follow up:

This is a great book for introducing the children to musical skills. Read the book to a small group, then pass around some percussion instruments and show the children how to tap them to the beat or shake them in time. Add plenty of actions like opening your jaws wide and waving.

6. How to Look After Your Dinosaur by Jason Cockcroft

This is a lovely book for older pre-school children, and another perfect opportunity to encourage role-play. When a special delivery arrives it’s a new dinosaur pet! What would you do if a dinosaur turned up on your doorstep? Well, that’s exactly what happens to the little boy in this book. He must learn exactly how to look after his dinosaur: what to feed it, where to take it, and how exactly to deal with its dinosaur-sized poop! It turns out that looking after a pet dinosaur can be a tiny bit tricky.

Follow up:

This book lends itself well to talking about different dinosaurs and what they needed to survive. It’s great for encouraging an early understanding and awareness of the world and all the creatures in it. There are opportunities to talk about what dinosaurs really ate and drank, where they lived and slept, and why some had claws and big teeth. Use a selection of different dinosaur toy figures to start a conversation. It’s also a great book to start a discussion about encouraging using a potty or a toilet.

7. Lifesize Dinosaurs by Sophy Henn

Young children all love this book as it gives real-life examples of the size and scale of real dinosaurs. It’s perfect for learning the vocabulary of size and learning about measuring. The book includes some of the world’s most incredible, ginormous, deadly dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures, and the illustrations are life-size so you can compare your nostrils with a Diplodocus and wear a Pteranodon’s beak. There’s also a surprise at the end of the book when you can open the pages to reveal a Tyrannosaurus rex mouth that’s over a meter long!

Follow up:

This book lends itself to learning about our size. Once you have read the book a few times, use a height chart to measure the children and show them the number of centimeters they are. It really doesn’t matter at this stage if they don’t understand the number. We are just showing that we can measure ourselves as we grow. Introduce words like, big, bigger, biggest, small, smaller, and smallest. It’s also a good opportunity to learn the names of different body parts, just like the dinosaurs.

8. My Own Dinosaur Book

When you have read all the books above, it’s time to read the best kind of dinosaur book of all – The one that you made yourself! Create your own dinosaur book by folding a sheet of A4 paper into a mini book. If you haven’t done this before, it’s really simple. Follow the instructions on this YouTube video.

Give each child a book and let them draw a different dinosaur on each page by copying dinosaur toys or by copying the pictures in some of the books above. As they draw, talk about the different colors, shapes, sizes, and features of the dinosaurs. 

Have a roarsome time!

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