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Books for Kids

Children's literature | Dragonology | Margaret Hodges, Saint George and the Dragon | Harry Potter | Other books

Children's literature

Dragons in Children's Literature by Tina L. Hanlon. Hanlon, a professor of English at Ferrum College, has compiled an extraordinary bibliography of children's books with dragons. Apart from being exhaustive the bibliographies are also annotated, with some annotations approaching essay length. Sections include Picture Books, Novels and Chapter Books and Background Resources on Dragons in Literature, including children's and adult non-fiction and dragon lit crit.

"Here Be Dragons" by Jane Yolen. Short, punchy essay explores what dragons mean in children's literature, and why some people want to ban them. I very much enjoyed her description of one such attempt:

"For example, there was a parent who wanted to ban Bruce Coville's Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher on the grounds that the dragon in the book eats liver and liver is an organ meat and organ meats are eaten by satanists which, ergo meant Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher was a piece of satanic literature. I contend that such a person is not too tightly wrapped. The syrup has slipped off her pancake. But—and this is the important part—the school principal actually entertained the notion of banning the book based on this kind of 'evidence.'"[1]

"It 'was Against the Rule': Secret Dragons at School" by Tina L. Hanlon. Talk delivered at the 2002 Children's Literature Association Conference, connected to Hanlon's excellent Dragons in Children's Literature . "It 'was Against the Rule'" In this talk Hanlon surveys the surprisingly rich vein of dragons-in-school-stories in contemporary children's literature. I share Hanlon's distaste for "tame" dragons, arising from "attempts of modern Americans to protect innocent children from the violence in traditional literature." See, for example her description of the 1985 Come to School, Dear Dragon:

"Dragon goes to school with a boy, follows the rules, sees a dragon in a book, plays and holds a hoop for the children, and then eats dragon snacks at home—much like a puppy dog. It might be fun to pretend that one has a dragon as a buddy, but cute dragons that differ little from tame bunnies or puppies, stripped of their legendary magic and mystery, have little to teach human children."

Children's Dragon Books from Polenth Blake's Dragon Stone, in tabular format.


Amazon. Dr. Ernest Drake's Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons by Ernest Drake, pitched for the 8-12 set. Dragonology is a gorgeous book, a lavish "reproduction" of a 19th-century study (by "Ernest Drake"), with all sorts of little cards, dragon skin samples, etc. Dragonology is commonly displayed together with Egyptology, by the same authors and in the same style. From my perspective, Egyptology is the better of the two. Both treat their subject as real, and investigate them with great wit and intellectual sophistication. But Egyptology is real—the authors couldn't just make it up, a harder job. Okay, maybe I'm being a stuffy adult.

Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons - Official Site. Promotional site has the book's gorgeous graphic design, but not its depth.

Washington Post review of Dragonology and Egyptology (January 16, 2005). Rave review calls them "among the most beautifully assembled books KidsPost has seen in a long time."

"These aren't books you read, they're books you walk into and live in over and over again. "

Margaret Hodges, Saint George and the Dragon

Amazon. Saint George and the Dragon, retold by Margaret Hodges (ages 4-8).

Short review by Eliza Fegley, Sacred Spiral.

Lesson plan based on Hodges' "St. George" from The Children's Museum of Indianapolis.

Staggeringly inept analysis of Margaret Hodges's "Saint George and the Dragon."

Summary Margaret Hodges's "Saint George and the Dragon."

Another lesson plan based on the book, this time involving building a dragon, from Matt Buchanan's

Harry Potter

Amazon. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by "Newt Scamander." Harry's textbook includes descriptions of 10 types of dragons.

Dragons in Harry Potter Books , a short bibliographic survey by Tina L. Hanlon, connected to her excellent annotated bibliography Dragons in Children's Literature .

Other books

Amazon. Merlin and the Dragons by Jane Yolen (Ages 4-8). Described, with review material on Jane Yolen's website.

If you enjoy this site you may like this other site by me:

Mermaids on the Web. Similar site, with over 1,320 pictures .

Angels on the Web. Images and other web resources on angels in Western culture, religion and art.

Griffins in Art and on the Web. Like this site, but Griffins.