My Father’s Dragon

by Ruth Stiles Gannett (1948)

By special request, Read to Them has added the old chestnut, My Father’s Dragon, to our stable of introductory reading titles for One School, One Book.

My Father’s Dragon is the first volume of a beloved trilogy of stories, written by Ruth Stiles Gannett way back in the 1940s. It is a disarming story of young Elmer who runs away to a mysterious island – Wild Island – to rescue a baby dragon. He is warned not to undertake this journey – “Many people have tried to explore Wild Island, but not one has come back alive.”  But, of course, he ignores these warnings and presses on with his quest.

Elmer brings along with him a sack full of obscure possessions, from pink lollipops to magnifying glasses. As it happens, he is challenged by an array of animals on Wild Island, from lions to tigers to gorillas.  Some of them are charming, and some of them are scary.  But, with his knapsack full of possessions, he is able to survive each test.  Once children catch on to the rhythm of the plot, they are thrilled – and empowered – trying to figure out the role of each item in the sack.  What are the toothbrushes for?  What about the ribbons?

My Father’s Dragon has charmed and beguiled families over half a century now, and it remains in print because it’s still doing so today. Families that discover My Father’s Dragon have come to treasure the story and its characters who end up feeling like long lost friends.  A book like this one can serve as a springboard into reading aloud, leading families to longer, more complex titles.  When you share My Father’s Dragon as a One School, One Book selection, your students and families will turn this simple tale into a source of cherished nostalgia.