My Father’s Dragon


My mom is visiting for a few weeks and it’s so nice to have an extra set of hands to help with the kids. She started a tradition a fews years ago of reading chapter books to the kids when she comes to visit.  They’ve read a few of the Harry Potter books, all of the Pippi Longstocking books, and a few other individual stories.  She usually reads to them while I make their dinner and then again for 20 minutes before bedtime, and it’s SO nice that she keeps them all quiet and calm during what is normally a very stressful (and loud) time in our house. Not to mention, my kids love it!

My mom remembered a book series she read to my brothers when they were little called My Father’s Dragon , and she’s been reading the stories to the kids this week. (She bought the 50th Anniversary Edition which includes the three tales in one book.) The kids are loving it! The stories, written by Ruth Stiles Gannett in the 1940s, are about the adventures of a boy named Elmer Elevator who runs away to Wild Island, a jungle island inhabited by wild beasts, to rescue a baby flying dragon. The book includes loads of sweet black-and-white illustrations to help younger children interpret the stories (Ivy still likes books to have pictures), and the stories are short enough to keep them all interested from beginning to end. This is a great way to introduce beginning readers to chapter books — had my mom not read it to the kids, I think it would have been the perfect first chapter book for Quin (aged 7).

x Courtney

p.s. A previous post about books for bigger kids with lots of suggestions from readers in the comments section
p.p.s. I’m always up for discovering new books, so feel free to share your favourites below!

9 COMMENTS - Add your own

1. Nicola | May 20, 2014 | Reply

My nan used to travel to the US a lot when I was growing up, & once brought back “Where the sidewalk ends” by Shel Silverstein. It’s poetry rather than a chapter story, & I’m led to believe is a bit of a cult book in America for slightly older kids? Me and my sister adored it. Will definitely look up My Fathers Dragon, my older 2 love chapter stories.

2. Noa in London | May 20, 2014 | Reply

Anything by William Steig I think is genius. The way he writes, his beautiful vocabulary and adjectives… A delight to read. My 5 year old is currently being read Abel’s island which is a chapter book. My personal favourite though is The Amazing bone, a story about a pig called Pearl and a talking bone……!

3. Courtney in London | May 20, 2014

Noa! We share a love of William Steig! One of my favourite children’s books of all time is ‘Sylvester and the Magic Pebble’. And one of my boy’s favourite books is ‘Amos & Boris’ about the whale and the mouse.
I have never heard of The Amazing Bone. I will order it now! Thank you for leaving a comment. xx

4. Vanessa | May 20, 2014 | Reply

Looks a great book, I’ll have to look out for that one. Have you read ‘Journey to the River Sea’ by Eva Ibbotson with the boys yet? There aren’t many pictures in it (if any) for Ivy but it’s a charming book and one I can’t wait to read to Helena. And I’ve just started ‘Wildwood’ by Colin Maloy – a trilogy of books, which I shall quickly read before passing it on. It’s quite a chunky read but it may be perfect for the long summer holiday ahead and the illustrations are magical.

5. Courtney in London | May 20, 2014

I love these suggestions Vanessa. Thank you. I will definitely order ‘Wildwood’ for our upcoming summer holiday. x

6. Kristin | May 21, 2014 | Reply

This is a favorite of ours too! We read it to Sayer last summer & he’s reading to himself now. :)

7. Stella | May 24, 2014 | Reply

‘Tom’s Midnight Garden’ by Philippa Pearce is such a beautiful fantasy novel. Originally published in 1958 it tells the story of A young boy who finds himself staying at his Aunt & Uncles, listening to the old grandfather clock chime 13 times at midnight. As he creeps out of bed to investigate he comes across an amazing garden, which doesn’t exist in real life. So magical and captivating. Xx

8. Stella | May 24, 2014 | Reply

Oh and also I must recommend ‘Stig of The Dump’ by Clive King, published in 1963. Another magical adventure English classic. X

9. se7en | May 24, 2014 | Reply

Oh yay for your mom, we love that book, we have the exact one, with the three books in one!!! As a family we are reading our way through Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons series, this year… and loving it… everybody listens to a chapter at every meal… from 4 to 16, never too old to read aloud to your kids!!!

I have a post that I think you might like and will help you find more fab family read-alouds to enjoy together: Se7en of the Best Bazillion Chapter Books… http://www.se7en.org.za/2011/04/15/se7en-of-the-best-bazillion-chapter-books-a-book-bonanza

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