Many libraries will be using the “Dragons, Dreams, and Daring Deeds” theme for the summer reading program. Here are some storytime plans that will fit that theme and appeal to a wide age range of participants – from 3 to 8! For the crafts, I found great ideas in Knights & Castles: 50 Hands-on Activities to Experience the Midde Ages by Avery Hart & Paul Mantell, Williamson Publishing, 1998. There are games like Chess and “Hunt the Slipper,” projects like growing herbs, making a sword and helmet, making a catapult, and making an hourglass, and lots of other fun!
- Riddle of the Drum by Verna Aardema. In this folktale from Mexico, suitors must demonstrate some special skills before they can marry the Princess.
- Princess Knight by Cornelia Funke. Princess Violetta is appalled that her father plans to give away her hand in marriage to whoever wins a jousting tournament, so she decides to participate!
- Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe. Will the king choose the kind sister or the bad tempered one in this African variant of Cinderella?
- King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub by Audrey and Don Wood. This popular repetitive story will have your audience chanting along.
- Princess Penelope’s Parrot by Helen Lester. The greedy princess tries to teach her new parrot how to speak with unexpected results.
- Dizzy From Fools by M.L. Miller. The Princess learns how to be a jester despite her father’s objections.
Crafts: Make a crown or jester’s hat. Crowns can be made of cardstock paper, fitted like a headband, and decorated with glitter. Jester hats can be made from a paper bag: Cut out the bottom and roll like a cuff to make the headband, then cut the other end into points and curl down, rolling on a crayon.
- Good Night, Good Knight by Shelley Moore Thomas. The Good Knight comes to the rescue of three little dragons who can’t go to sleep without drinks of water, bedtime stories, and goodnight kisses.
- Ruby the Red Knight by Amy Aitken. A young girl named Ruby imagines that she is a member of the Knights of the Round Table.
- Klippity Klop by Ed Emberley. Similar to “Going on a Bear Hunt,” this story encourages audience participation.
- The Knight Who Was Afraid of the Dark by Barbara Shook Hazen. Sir Fred is afraid of the dark, which the castle bully tries to exploit to get even with Sir Fred.
- Night, Knight by Harriet Ziefert. Homonyms are the theme of this every easy reader book.
- Sir Small and the Dragonfly by Jane O’Connor. In this easy reader, Sir Small must rescue Princess Teena from the Dragonfly.
Crafts: Paper stained glass windows: Use black construction paper and tissue paper to make simple “stained glass” decorations.
- Raising Dragons by Jerdine Nolan. A small African-American girl describes finding a large egg that hatches into a dragon, and how she cares for it. One of the few multicultural dragon stories.
- The Knight and the Dragon by Tomie DePaola. A shy knight and an equally shy dragon meet up for their first battle.
- There’s No Such Thing As A Dragon by Jack Kent. No one believes Billy when he wakes up and finds a dragon at the foot of his bed, until the dragon grows so large it moves the house down the street.
- Gramps and the Fire Dragon by Bethany Roberts. Gramps and Jesse imagine a dragon story while starring into the fireplace.
- Dragon Tooth by Cathryn Falwell. Sara makes a cardboard box dragon to take her attention away from a sore loose tooth. Children can make a dragon just like the one Sara does in the story, with just egg cartons, boxes, paper, glue, and markers.
- The Egg by M. P. Robertson. George finds a giant egg that hatches a dragon.
Crafts: Make a dragon paperbag puppet. Find the instructions at www.enchantedlearning.com.
- This theme has fewer short picture books than the other themes, but the following books were all suitable for preschool storytime. You could also show the illustrations in Gail Gibbons’ Behold – the Unicorns! and give a brief definition of unicorns at the start of the storytime.
- Sarah’s Unicorn by Bruce and Katherine Coville. Sarah lives with her mean Aunt Mag who is a witch, but when she befriends the unicorn Oakhorn, he helps her transform her aunt.
- The Unicorn and the Lake by Marianna Mayer. A unicorn and serpent battle – good vs. evil, in this retelling of three folktales merged into one story.
- Nobody Rides the Unicorn by Adrian Mitchell. Shy servant girl Zoe befriends a unicorn that is captured by the King. She helps free the unicorn and goes to live with it in the forest.
- Unicorn Dreams by Dyan Sheldon. Dan sees the unicorn around town – on the playground, on his front lawn – is the unicorn real or imaginary?
Crafts: Make a Unicorn puppet, or play “Pin the Tail or Horn on the Unicorn,” using a poster of a unicorn.
- No Jumping on the Bed by Tedd Arnold. Even though he has been warned not to, Walter jumps on his bed and falls through the apartments below him. Was he dreaming?
- Willy the Dreamer by Anthony Browne. Willy dreams he is a movie star, rock star, wrestler, explorer, and other careers.
- Hush! A Thai Lullaby by Minfong Ho. Animal sounds and repetition make this a great choice for toddler and preschool storytime.
- Milk and Cookies by Frank Asch. Baby Bear dreams he fed milk and cookies to a dragon while at Grandfather’s house.
- Sweet Dream Pie by Audrey Wood. The Brindles make Sweet Dream Pie from a secret recipe, which causes everyone in town who eats it to have fantastic dreams!
Crafts: We made door hangers that said “Quiet, I’m Reading.”
- Strega Nona’s Magic Lessons by Tomie DePaola. Big Anthony thinks only women can be strega’s (witches), so he dresses up as a girl to learn some of Strega Nona’s magic.
- My Little Sister Ate One Hare by Bill Grossman. Dressed as a magician, a little girl enjoys eating snakes and other critters, until she “urps” when she has to eat peas! A fun counting story.
- Olive and the Magic Hat by Eileen Christelow. Olive and Otis play with their father’s top hat. Father thinks the hat is magic when he can hear it “talk.”
- The Wizard, the Fairy, and the Magic Chicken by Helen Lester. Three boastful magicians try to outdo each other, but they need to work together to undo the trouble they have caused.
- Do Not Open by Brinton Turkle. A woman finds a magic bottle on the beach – should she open it?
- Cinderella’s Rat by Susan Meddaugh. One of the rats that was turned into a coachman for Cinderella tells his side of the story.
Crafts: Make a Wizard’s Pointed Hat out of paper, or a magic wand out of a chopstick and tissue streamers. Or, if there are lots of kids over age 5, teach everyone a magic trick.
- The Seven Chinese Sisters by Kathy Tucker. Each sister has a special power, like karate, talking to dogs, or cooking, that helps them defeat a dragon who has taken the youngest sister.
- Red is a Dragon by Roseanne Thong. Great for toddlers and preschoolers, this simple concept book of colors uses things in the Chinese-American community as examples.
- Emma’s Dragon Hunt by Catherine Stock. Grandfather Wong teaches Emma the many good things about dragons.
- The Paper Dragon by Marguerite W. Davol. This longer story is probably best suited for kids at least 7 years and up, but the illustrations are beautiful.
- Henry and the Kite Dragon by Bruce Edward Hall. Also good for older children, this story is set in New York’s Chinatown in 1920.
Crafts: Paper lanterns, fans, and scrolls inspired by The Paper Dragon. Or, make a Dragon Boat as seen on page 54 of Moonbeams, Dumplings, and Dragon Boats by Nina Simonds