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Fire Up Primary Literacy With 7 Hot Books About Dragons, From Pie Corbett, Jasper Fforde And More

From the cute and cuddly to the fiery and ferocious, these mythical beasts are always a popular part of literary history...

  • Fire Up Primary Literacy With 7 Hot Books About Dragons, From Pie Corbett, Jasper Fforde And More

If you’ve seen Game of Thrones, you’ll know that dragons are CGI creatures that are just not quite good enough to suspend disbelief and should therefore be kept off-screen as much as possible.

If you’ve read/seen How to Train Your Dragon however you’ll know that they are giant lovable lizard puppies that’ll have you screaming “I want one, I want one, I want one” every time they appear.

Oh, Hiccup, you have my heart

Just as they mean different things to different cultures, dragons in literature can vary from terrifying to adorable, so they’re sure to be a hit with youngsters across the board. Here are some of our recommended reads to have your class scaling the literacy ladder.

1. Marmaduke the Very Different Dragon

Rachel Valentine and Ed Eaves
(Bloomsbury, paperback, £6.99)

Dragons, as everyone knows, are supposed to be a discreet shade of purple, with smooth, shiny scales and tiny, neat ears. Their mission in life is to seek a princess to protect, who is always graceful and quiet and will often need rescuing. So what does the future hold for Marmaduke – a shy, orange dragon with enormous ears, sticky-out scales, and wings that he never even opens, because of how dramatically different they are?

Marmaduke the Very Different Dragon review

2. Brian and the Vikings

Chris Judge and Mark Wickham
(The O’Brien Press, paperback, £6.99, ages 4-8 years)

Dragons, Vikings, and the triumph of wit and audacity over brute force all have a part to play in the success of this fascinating and slightly quirky story set in Ireland, around a thousand years ago. Brian may be the smallest in his village, but he’s also the cleverest – and so, when enemies arrive, bent on destruction, it’s his quick thinking that saves the day as he comes up with a cunning plan to defeat them using their own fears, of fire-breathing, winged monsters, against them.

Brian and the Vikings review

3. Dragon Loves Penguin

Debi Gliori (Bloomsbury, hardback, £10.99, ages 5-7 years)

In this warm and wise bedtime story within a story, Bib the penguin begs his parents to be told once more about the time when dragons came to live in his family’s land of ice and snow; about the unassailable love that developed between a mummy in search of an egg and a Little One who didn’t look like all the other babies, and how that love helped her to grow up strong and brave.

Dragon Loves Penguin review

4. The Clockwork Dragon

Jonathan Emmett and Elys Dolan
(Oxford University Press, paperback, £6.99, ages 5-8 years)

When Max loses his job painting toys because he can’t resist converting them into clockwork playthings instead, the only alternative employment he can find is as a dragon slayer. With the help of Lizzie, the armourer’s daughter, he constructs a truly terrifying mechanical dragon and – using brains as well as brute strength – defeats the man-eating creature that has been terrorising their kingdom.

The Clockwork Dragon review

5. Evidence of Dragons

Pie Corbett (Macmillan, paperback, £4.99, ages 7+)

There are probably at least 52 inspiring literary lesson plans lurking within the pages of this shimmering collection of poems by Teach Primary favourite, Pie Corbett. Every new title is a masterclass in how to coax creativity from a memory, a view, a dream or a question – whether he’s talking about dragons and unicorns, cats and clouds, or the man sitting opposite him on the 5.15 to Leicester, Corbett never wastes a word.

Evidence of Dragons review

6. Dragon Legends

David Passes and Wayne Anderson
(Pavilion Children’s, paperback, £5.99, ages 8+)

Dragons are hot stuff (pun intended) at the moment, so this stylish collection of retold legends about those fiery, winged creatures is definitely timely. Starting with a creation story from nearly 4000 years ago, and drawing from an impressive range of cultural traditions along the way, David Passes handles his subject with both credibility and flair, whilst Wayne Anderson’s gorgeously atmospheric illustrations complete the package.

Dragon Legends review

7. The Last Dragonslayer

Jasper Fforde (Hodder, paperback, £6.99, 9+ years)

In this, his first book for a younger demographic, Jasper Fforde flings his readers into a parallel (yet strangely familiar) universe where sorcery is being strangled by regulation and commerce – and confidently expects them to keep up with his fast and very funny storytelling from the start. You might be surprised at how many nine-year-olds manage to do just that.

The Last Dragonslayer review

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