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My Father's Dragon Discussion Questions

Instructor: Bethany Calderwood

Bethany is a certified Special Education and Elementary teacher with 11 years experience teaching Special Education from grades PK through 5. She has a Bachelor's degree in Special Education, Elementary Education, and English from Gordon College and a Master's degree in Special Education from Salem State University.

Elementary students will love Elmer's cleverness as he adventures to Wild Island to save a baby dragon in 'My Father's Dragon.' Once your students finish reading about Elmer, deepen their understanding of the novel with these story, literary element, and personal response questions.

My Father's Dragon

Ruth Stiles Gannett's 1948 novel My Father's Dragon tells the story of Elmer's adventure to Wild Island. Elmer meets a cat who sends him on a mission to free an enslaved baby dragon. Along the way, Elmer uses the everyday items in his knapsack to creatively distract the wild animals who variously want to eat or injure him. This story's gentle humor and vivid black-and-white illustrations will appeal to an elementary audience. After reading the book, use these questions to start your discussions about My Father's Dragon.

Questions About the Story

  • Why does the cat send Elmer to Wild Island? Why doesn't the cat come with Elmer? Why do you think Elmer is willing to take the cat's advice?
  • How is the dragon treated by the animals on the island? What is wrong with their treatment of the dragon?
  • What obstacles does Elmer face as he tries to reach the dragon? Which obstacle do you think would be the most challenging? How does Elmer respond to these challenges?
  • Why are the boars opposed to intruders?
  • How does Elmer use the items in his knapsack in unexpected ways? Thinking about the animals who tried to stop Elmer, what are other items he could have used to escape from each animal?
  • What characteristic of the crocodiles does Elmer exploit to get what he needs? How does his treatment of the crocodiles compare with the other animals' treatment of the dragon?
  • What do you think Elmer and the baby dragon should do next? What kind of adventures do you think they might have? What parts of the text support your predictions?

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