Who can resist the lure of a dragon? Magical, powerful, and beautiful, the mysterious creatures appear in many children’s stories and fairy tales for a reason: They’re really cool! This list includes books featuring dragons to appeal to kids who love adventurous, dramatic tales, as well as readers who like their dragons to be more funny than scary.
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1. Dragon Was Terrible by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Greg Pizzoli
The dragon in this playful picture book is terrible, but in the ways toddlers can be terrible—scribbling in books and stealing candy. The low-threat and comical conflict will make this a favorite with the preschool and kindergarten set.
2. Puff the Magic Dragon by Peter Yarrow and Lenny Lipton, illustrated by Eric Puybaret
Peter Yarrow and Lenny Lipton co-created the 1959 song, “Puff the Magic Dragon,” which would go on to become a children’s classic. Now the song comes to life on the pages of this picture book, beautifully illustrated by Eric Puybaret.
3. Good Night, Little Dragons by Leigh Ann Tyson
How do dragons get ready for bedtime? This sweet and funny tale finds out, with three little dragons brushing their fangs, taking a bath, and serving as good examples for little ones who also need to get through their bedtime routine.
4. Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri
This hilarious picture book from author-illustrator duo Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri is a celebration of both dragons and tacos (so long as those tacos aren’t spicy, which can cause major problems for fire-breathing dragons).
5. Attack of the Underwear Dragon by Scott Rothman, illustrated by Pete Oswald
An assistant knight has to take over for the head knight when the much-feared Underwear Dragon descends on the kingdom. This funny and positive picture book is joined by its sequel, Return of the Underwear Dragon.
6. The Knight and the Dragon by Tomie dePaola
Beloved author and illustrator Tomie dePaola offers an inventive new take on the knight-dragon relationship. In this picture book, both the novice knight and the not-very-fierce dragon each study up on how to defeat each other, with charming and funny results.
7. The Magnificent Book of Dragons by Stella Caldwell, illustrated by Gonzalo Kenny
Part of a series of beautifully illustrated guides to different types of creatures, this entry is devoted to dragons. Detailed drawings of different types of dragons are joined by maps of dragon lands and more.
8. A Friend for Dragon by Dav Pilkey
Dav Pilkey of Captain Underpants and Cat Kid fame also has this sweet little series about a lovable, though sometimes misguided, dragon. This book is the first of five and is perfect for readers graduating from picture books to easy reader texts.
9. Dragon Masters series by Tracey West, illustrated by Graham Howells and Damien Jones
This series, in which every book follows a dragon whose powers center on an element of the natural world, is a perfect one for beginning readers to explore as they build their confidence reading independently. In each book, Drake pairs with a different dragon as they prepare to fight an evil wizard. The box set contains volumes 1 to 5.
10. Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke
In the first book of this trilogy from Funke—a prolific writer of magical books for children—the dragons of the realm want only to live in peace. But it’s only the dragon Firedrake, accompanied by his human friend Ben, who is willing to seek out a land where dragons can be safe. This mystical adventure will capture the hearts of grade school readers.
11. How to Train Your Dragon series by Cornelia Funke
Kids probably are familiar with the movies of the same name, based on this bestselling series by Cornelia Funke. The complete book series will ignite the interest of young independent readers eager to enjoy the full adventures of Hiccup and his dragon, Toothless.
12. Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons by Dr. Ernest Drake and Dugald A. Steer
Presented as an official guide written by the nineteenth century dragonologist Dr. Ernest Drake, this guide to all things dragons will delight the creatures’ most ardent admirers. The magical volume includes tactile page spreads, allowing readers to feel dragon skin, scales, and wings, as well as pages devoted to various dragon species and theories on how dragons speak, why they hoard items, and more.
Buy it: Dragonology at Amazon | Dragonology at Bookshop
13. Wings of Fire series by Tui T. Sutherland
The first five books in this popular series are collected in this boxed set, giving readers plenty to connect with in the saga of five dragonets who are the subjects of a prophecy that states they will end the war in their land. But the spunky flyers have plans that run counter to fate. Some readers report the graphic battle scenes aren’t for faint-hearted readers, but others say that their dragon-adoring kids manage quite well.
14. The Inheritance Cycle series by Christopher Paolini
Author Christopher Paolini began writing Eragon, the first book in his Inheritance Saga, when he was only 15. The adventure begins when a poor farm boy finds what he thinks is a blue stone that feels like good luck. It turns out to be a dragon hatchling that propels the boy, Eragon, on a journey that could save or end the Empire.
15. Dragonflight: Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey
This first entry in Hugo Award-winning Anne McCaffrey’s fantasy series Dragonriders of Pern—about a lowly kitchen girl and the dragon she forms a bond with—has been reissued a number of times as it continues to find new fans in middle-school age readers. Some reviewers acknowledge that this first volume gets off to a slower start but that the series becomes better paced and more gripping as it goes on.