Feb 22, 2010

Kid Lit Monday: My Father's Dragon

I have a son who will be 12 in about a week. TWELVE!? When did that happen? This is more where his brain is right now. So, this weekend when he pulled out his reading assignments for the trimester--the one that ends on Thursday--and we saw that he has yet to read 100 pages of non-fiction & a Newbery award or honor book, I was a little ticked off. He is my reluctant reader--not dormant, he does have books he will read, just normally doesn't want to. Non-fiction will be no problem due to this book. But a Newbery award or honor book in four days? Ugh!

So, while said child was upstairs reading his non-fiction title I was searching the Newbery list to find a book that he could read. Did you know Frog and Toad Together was a Newbery Honor book? I didn't and I almost picked that one knowing he could for sure get it done by Thursday, but he is a sixth grader and I am not sure this is what his teacher has in mind (although the first trimester he read 26 Fairmont Avenue by Tomie dePaola and she was fine with that). I kept looking when I found a gem...My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannet.

This one is perfect. First of all, I have read it to him already, so he just needs a refresher read. Secondly, it's a quick read. And, it is a fun book. I first discovered this book when I was a tutor. A fifth grade student gushed about it so I picked it up and read it. It became one of my favorites, and kind of tugged at my memory, like I probably read it or had it read to me when I was younger, but I didn't fully remember it (I just remember the picture of the lion with all the ribbons). When I was teaching kindergarten this was always the first chapter book I read aloud (even though more experienced kindergarten teachers told me that kinders wouldn't sit still for chapter books--they always sat still for this one and for All About Sam).

The start of the book is a bit confusing for young kids to follow--it takes them a bit to understand who is narrating the book. The book is being told by a son or daughter, they are repeating a story their father told them about when he was young. He rescues a stray cat and keeps it hidden in his basement--but when his mother finds out she throws the cat out. Mad at his mother, the father (his name is Elmer Elevator) leaves with the cat, who, it turns out, is a talking cat. When Elmer wishes he could fly away from his home, the cat tells Elmer of an island inhabited by wild beasts, called Wild Island, who captured a baby dragon and use him as a ferry across the river that cuts through the middle of the island. But the animals are not kind to the baby dragon and the cat is sure that the dragon would fly whoever rescued him wherever he would want to go. So they make a plan for Elmer to rescue the dragon. How Elmer outsmarts all the beast he runs across ion the course of his rescue mission is what keeps kids engaged in the plot and keeps the book moving along at a fast pace.

This is a short book, with darling illustrations. Perfect for higher first or second grade readers and a great read aloud for younger children. This is one book not to be missed!


  1. It's so important to draw attention to reading, and attract reluctant readers to it,especially boys. In fact, I've recently completed a feature magazine article on this subject that came out in October, "Help for Struggling, Reluctant Readers."

    I grew up as a reluctant reader, in spite of the fact that my father published over 70 books. Now I write action-adventures & mysteries, especially for tween boys, that avid boy readers and girls enjoy just as much.

    My blog, Books for Boys http://booksandboys.blogspot.com is dedicated to drawing attention to the importance of reading. And my new book, Lost Island Smugglers - first in the Sam Cooper Adventure Series - is coming out in June.

    Keep up your good work.

    Max Elliot Anderson
    PS. My first 7 books are going to be republished by Comfort Publishing later in 2010

  2. I have some book suggestions for your son at http://pragmaticmom.com. See black navigation bar and look under entry: Book Lists. Then pull down the sublist for Reluctant Boy Readers. He might also like:

    Clementine by Sara Pennypacker
    How to Eat Fried Worms.. and many more.

    Plus check out my blogroll, I have a few linked blogs that focus on boys and reading. Hope this helps!

    Pragmatic Mom