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“Ms. Gear – Do you have any dragon books?” Well, that simple question by a student last week lead me on an exciting search for dragon books! I enjoyed revisiting some old favorites from my own collection and finding new ones in our school library. So…. this week’s post – A celebration of dragons! No matter what grade, gender, or age – kids are captivated by the magic, beauty and power of dragons. They also make great anchor books for inspiring dragon writing! And so whether or not you have a fascination with dragons, there’s sure to be a book here to catch your eye! Here is my list of favorite, old, new, classic, funny and whimsical dragons books:
CLASSIC DRAGONS (European)
The Loathsome Dragon – David Wiesner
I’m a huge David Wiesner fan – and while this is not one of his more well-known books, it is certainly one of my favorites. It is one I would categorize as a traditional dragon story – and comes complete with a lovely princes, brave prince, wicked stepmother and evil enchantments, not to mention a dragon. Gorgeous illustrations of magical woods and the majestic dragon tops it off. A great book for questioning.
Flight of the Last Dragon – Robert Burleigh
This is a beautiful story, told in rhyme, about a dragon trying to find his way in the modern world and inevitably taking his last flight and becoming the constellation DRACO. The illustrations by Mary GrandPre (who illustrated the covers to the Harry Potter books) are beautiful.
George and the Dragon – Christopher Wormell
Another dragon book with extraordinary illustrations, this book begins as a traditional story with a terrifying, fire-breathing, army battling dragon. However, we soon discover that this mighty dragon has a big secret – he is afraid of mice! Enter George, a mouse who moves next door and comes over to borrow some sugar! This is a story full of humor and surprises – a great read-aloud! George, the Dragon and the Princess is the follow-up book to this and is equally as good. My students love them both!
Tell Me a Dragon – Jackie Morris
Jackie Morris lives in Wales in a cottage by the sea where she lives, writes and illustrates. (I want to be her) Her book Tell Me a Dragon is absolute my top pick for inspiring dragon writing. I have read this book to grade 1’s through to grade 7’s – and whenever I do, something magical happens. The watercolor illustrations are extraordinary – each page depicting a different type of dragon – from a sky dragon, to an ice dragon (“His breath is snowflakes”) to a “Snaggle-tooth dragon – fierce and brave”. The spell is cast.
The Dragon’s Egg – M.P. Robertson
“George knew something wasn’t right when he found more than he bargained for under his mother’s favorite chicken” And so begins the tale of George and a dragon. I love this book. It is a tender tale of a kind-hearted boy who takes care of first, an egg and then a dragon. I love that George cares for this egg, reads it stories and covers it with his quilt. When the egg hatches and a dragon appears, George teaches it “dragonly ways” – how to fly, breathe fire and defeat a knight. Eventually, the dragon becomes homesick and George sadly takes him home. If you fall in love with George, as I did, you will want to read the other George and the Dragon adventures by M.P. Robertson – The Dragon Snatcher and The Great Dragon Rescue.
The Flying Dragon Room – Audrey Wood (illustrated by Marc Teague)
Fantastic! Amazing! Creative! Patrick uses magical tools to create an imaginary place. He creates so many “rooms” that children would love to visit–dinosaur rooms, friendly wild animal rooms, dessert rooms, bouncing rooms, bubble rooms, high seas adventure rooms. Then he takes his family on a tour. Marc Teague’s illustrations are amazing. GREAT anchor book for writing – and having kids write about their imaginary room!
Not Your Typical Dragon – Dan Bar-el
Instead of fire, Cripin breathes… band-aids, marshmallows, teddy bears! (oh my!) A great story – light hearted and fun.
Dragons Love Tacos – Adam Rubin
Another very funny read-aloud about dragons and all the tacos they eat – including the hot salsa! This is a recent release but already a hit at my school!
Dragon Tide – Ingrid Lee
A charming story of a girl who molds a dragon out of sand on the beach. Will the dragon survive the crowds at the beach before the tide comes to set it free? This book is magical and whimsical. Soft spoken and quietly beautiful.
Felix and the Blue Dragon – Angela McAlister
Felix is a lonely prince who has only his shadow to play with, until he meets a mysterious blue dragon. An enchanting story – and one I’ve used for questioning.
DRAGON TALES AND LEGENDS (Chinese)
The Dragon’s Pearl – Julie Lawson
A magic pearl brings good luck to a young boy and his mother in this traditional Chinese tale. I love the textured illustrations and also the interesting explanation of the Chinese dragons and the legends that surround them is found in the back of the book. With older students, I use this book for questioning. It is also one I’ve used to discuss comparisons between Chinese and European dragons.
Everyone Knows What a Dragon Looks Like – Jay Williams
This is a wonderful fairy tale about a fat little old man who claims he is a dragon. Nobody in the village believes him, except a little boy. I have loved this book for a long time and enjoyed many read-aloud experiences with it. It is playful and imaginative and Mercer Mayer’s illustrations are breathtaking.
The Dragon New Year – A Chinese Legend – David Bouchard
A young girl is frightened by the clanging cymbals, firecrackers and loud drums of the New Years Parade. Her grandmother then explains the the origins of the Chinese New Year celebrations told through a traditional fairy tale. I love the calming voice of the grandmother and the illustrations are colorful. A perfect book to share during Chinese New Year.
BEGINNING CHAPTER BOOKS, NOVELS and YA
Good Night, Good Knight – Shelley Moore Thomas
Three little dragons are having a hard time falling asleep so the Good Knight comes to help. He brings them bedtime snacks, sings lullaby’s and reads the stories. I adore this book! (and so did my two boys when they were little) It’s not only great for reading aloud to younger children, the repetition and dialogue can be easily turned into a Reader’s Theater script for K-1-2. It’s also written at a beginning reading level for beginning readers.
My Father’s Dragon – Ruth Stiles Gannett
Another classic and one of my very favorite beginning novels. It is the PERFECT book to read aloud to a grade 2 or 3 class and I’ve also used it for younger Literature circles. It was first published in 1948! I remember reading it when I was about 7 – I think it was my first real “chapter” book! It tells the story of Elmer who heads to Tangerine Island to try to rescue a dragon who is being mistreated by the other jungle animals. The book is a clever adventure that kids love. Great illustrations and wonderful ending. Gannett wrote two follow-up books called Elmer and the Dragon and The Dragons of Blueland.
The Dragon’s Egg – Alison Baird
This wonderful novel has been around for many years, but is a popular Literature Circles choice for grade 4’s and 5’s at my school. It is a fantasy story about a girl who receives a special stone from her dad that he brought back to her from Chinal. When a baby dragon “hatches” from the stone, Ai Lien’s adventures begin! This book is a great mix of fantasy and realistic issues (friendship, bullying) that children make connections to and that stimulate some thoughtful discussions.
Eragon – Christopher Paolini
I need not say too much about his book that has not already been said. And while many adults did not like this book by the young 16 yr. old writer and felt that the writing was weak and that he had plagiarized Tolkien, for many of my students this first book in the trilogy marked their transition into “longer” books. It was hugely popular at the time it came out and still is one that is in high demand in my school library. I didn’t love the book or the movie but could not miss it from a list of dragon books!)
YA/ADULT DRAGON BOOK
The Eyes of the Dragon – Stephen King
Although this was never one of Stephen King’s big hits (he wrote it for his daughter, apparently) I LOVED it when I read it way back when it was first published in 1987. I re-read it last summer with my son and enjoyed it all over again. It is definitely one for older students – but has everything in it that you could want from a Stephen King book – murder, deceit, mystery, lies – and everything you could want from a fantasy tale – a castle, a dark tower, a prince (two in fact – one good, one evil) a queen, a king, a villan (Flagg – ooooo, he’s so evil!) and, of course, a dragon. King’s writing is superb and I love that when the narrator speaks to you and warns you of things that are happening. A great read!
Well… there is my list!. What is your favorite Dragon book?