My kid, like many others, loves imaginary creatures. Fairies are often his #1 pick, but dragons follow right behind. Dragons get more high-quality attention than fairies in children’s picture books, so it’s a bit easier to find good kids’ books about dragons. Here are our favorites! They’re so good I’d recommend them to an adult for a light enjoyable read, and they’re kid-tested as well.
Ace Dragon Ltd. by Russell Hoban and Quentin Blake.
Of course John found a dragon living under a manhole cover. Where else would you find one? And for their first meeting? A rendezvous at the Dragonham East station of the Underground. The dragon wore Wellingtons. John had a sword. And so it began. Totally eccentric and very pleasant.
Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light. If you’ve ever been to New York City, or you like art, you need to see this book! There isn’t much plot, because it’s pitched for very young readers, but my six-almost-seven year old got a kick out of finding the dragon’s hiding place on each page. I just couldn’t get over the amount of detail that Light put into each set of pages. I want to thank him and get him an ice pack for his drawing hand.
I try not to repeat books in this series too often, but Raising Dragons deserved a place in both Awesome Girls and Dragons. It’s by Jerdine Nolen with illustrations by Elise Primavera. Stole. My. Heart. Black girl magic at its finest. I wish more people knew about this book, but I think 18 year old picture books have a hard time making it to the “diverse books” lists? The narration sounds a little American rural without being overdone or stereotyped, and it’s just lovely to watch this gal’s “click” moment about her destiny when she discovers a dragon egg on her family farm. I also admire her quiet self-assurance and competence in her chosen vocation.
Eric Carle’s Dragons, Dragons, which is Eric Carle paintings illustrating excerpts from poetry by various authors. It’s sometimes hard to recall, when faced by the avalanche of Eric Carle merchandise, that it all started because he is a good artist. Pair his paintings of dragons and various other mythological monsters with poems about them, and Boy Detective was mesmerized. We had to buy the book, since it wasn’t practical to fly to his cousins’ house in Colorado to re-read it. I love poetry books for kids that don’t pull any punches, because the variety of language and structure is great for them and also refreshing for the grownups who read with them.
Emma’s Dragon Hunt, by Catherine Stock. This is a sweet, warm book about a young girl whose grandfather comes from China to live with her and her parents. When he first starts talking about dragons, Emma is frightened. But on their walks together, he teaches her more about the elusive dragons and their place in the world. It’s about dragons, but also a truly lovely grandparent-grandchild relationship.
The Dragon of an Ordinary Family by Margaret Mahy, with art by Helen Oxenbury. Mr. Belaski gets fed up with being ribbed by his family about how sensible and ordinary he is, and in his rebellion, he brings home a pet dragon. Which grows. And grows. Soon the neighbors are up in arms and the Belaskis are in need of a vacation as well as a solution to their dragon problem. Caution: there seem to be various covers and possibly other illustrated versions of this story, do look for the Oxenbury version.
The Best Pet of All by David LaRochelle, illustrated by Hanako Wakiyama. This kiddo’s mom probably thought she was pretty clever, shutting down the constant requests for a pet by saying a pet dragon would be fine… if the kid could find one. Then he did. And it turns out dragons are terrible pets! Or are they? Loved this tale of an ingenious kid getting what he wants. (And Mama realizes it’s actually just fine.) The art is a modern homage to old-school picture book style, as if it’s set in the 50s, very cute.
And that’s the list! Thanks for reading!