Stories about fire-breathing, serpentine, winged monsters with sharp teeth and claws may sound like the makings of a nightmare for the kiddos—and a rough night for Mom or Dad—but lots of children are totally enchanted by dragons. And even if yours aren’t, this list of awesome books about the mythological creatures might make them rethink their stance—and possibly even make dragons a little less scary for them. From taco-eating dragons to the reluctant and well-mannered of the breed, these literary dragons are our picks for the best of the beasts.
Dragons Love Tacos, by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri
A little known fact about dragons: They love tacos, at least according to this silly picture book from the author and illustrator of another funny fave, Those Darn Squirrels!. Dragons love all kinds of tacos—chicken and beef, big and small. They also love parties. The only thing they love more than tacos and parties are taco parties. But the one thing they can’t stand is anything spicy. Want to know what happens when a dragon has a drop of spicy salsa? Find out in this hilarious book that’s entertaining to kids and grown-ups alike.
How to Train Your Dragon, by Cressida Cowell
How to Train Your Dragon is the first of 11 books (soon to be 12 with How to Fight a Dragon’s Fury set to be released Nov. 3) in Cressida Cowell’s popular middle grade series of the same name. The story follows the timid Viking and unlikely hero Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III as he completes his tribe’s rite of passage: capturing and training a dragon. Not only is Hiccup’s dragon quite small and toothless, but he is also incredibly lazy and stubborn, further stacking the odds against Hiccup and leading to some funny scenes with the two of them. As Hiccup puts it, “This is the story of becoming a hero the hard way.” And readers will be rooting for this underdog as he does just that.
Dragonbreath, by Ursula Vernon
Part fiction and part graphic novel, Dragonbreath will make you laugh until smoke comes out of your nose. The book tells the tale of Danny Dragonbreath, a brave young dragon who can’t breathe fire. After he gets an F on a quickly written paper about the ocean, his teacher forces him to rewrite it. So Danny and his Iguana friend, Wendell, venture into the Sargasso Sea with Danny’s sea serpent cousin, Edward, to do research—an adventure that proves to be both exciting and perilous in this engaging and funny read for the 8 to 12-year-old set.
The Knight and the Dragon, by Tomie dePaola
Perennial favorite Tomie dePaola brings readers this silly story about a knight and a dragon who are supposed to fight each other for the very first time, so naturally, they both hit the books—How to Fight Dragons for the sheepish young knight and How to Fight Knights for our less-than-ferocious dragon. Maybe they don’t have to fight each other after all, though. What else could they do? Find out in this sweet and funny picture book filled with dePaola’s signature detailed and colorful illustrations.
Have You Seen My Dragon?, by Steve Light
Who knew that you could lose a dragon—and more so, that he might be difficult to find in a big city? But that’s precisely the problem facing the boy in Have You Seen My Dragon?. Perhaps the dragon stopped for a hot dog or took a bus downtown. Kids will have fun following the boy and his dragon around the city in this whimsical counting book with detailed black-and-white illustrations and vibrant splashes of color to keep even the youngest dragon hunters engaged.
The Reluctant Dragon, by Kenneth Grahame and Michael Hague
This delightfully enchanting book follows a young shepherd boy who meets a dragon quite unlike you read about in fairy tales. This dragon is very kind and well-mannered and has never harmed anyone. The boy and dragon become friends, but the villagers are not having it as they send for St. George to help take care of this dragon “problem.” Can the boy help find a peaceful solution in this tale of compassion and not judging a book—or dragon—by its cover? Kenneth Grahame’s writing is witty and engaging, making this a great book for middle-grade readers to tackle on their own or for younger kids to have read aloud to them.
What’s your favorite children’s book about dragons?