Written and Illustrated by: Christoph Niemann
If your child wants to know what it would be like to have a dragon as a pet, this is just the story for him/her. Peruse the illustrations, allowing your child to take in the images and make observations about things that grab his/her attention.
What do you see on the cover?
Use Your Imagination.
What do you think it would be like to have a pet dragon? Why do you think that?
What do you think the girl and the dragon will do in this story?
Activate Prior Knowledge
Ask your child if s/he knows what a Chinese character is. Say that in the English language, words are made up of individual letters like ABCD but in the Chinese language, most words can be made up of one to three characters. The words "person" and "dog" have just one Chinese character and these characters look nothing like the letters in the English alphabet.
As You Read
You'll notice that the author and illustrator, Christoph Niemann, incorporates Chinese characters into the illustrations by superimposing them on their corresponding image. For example, the character for "mouth" is incorporated into the illustration of Lin with her mouth wide open as she looks into her dragon's empty cage.
Trace the Characters.
Encourage your child to trace some of the characters with his/her finger so that s/he can feel how people writing in Chinese form these characters.
Discuss Elements of Chinese Culture.
Point out the Chinese cultural references that you see in the story. For example, when Lin comes across the Great Wall as she searches for her pet dragon, say, "This is the Great Wall of China. It is a really big wall in China that is 13,170 miles long!"
Pronounce the Characters.
If you and your child are curious about how to pronounce some of the characters you saw in this story, check out Aha Chinese to see the pictographs and listen to the pronunciations of these characters.
Discuss the Plot.
How did she become friends with a dragon?
Why did Lin's father get upset and put the dragon in its cage?
How did she find her dragon when it went missing? Where did she find her dragon?
Discuss the Chinese Characters.
Which character did you like the best? Why was that one your favorite?
Activity: Fingerpaint Chinese Characters
Inspired by: The Language Playground
You may not be trying to get your child fluent in Chinese, but it is good for children to acknowledge different cultures and languages and this activity is a great way to reinforce some of the characters that you saw in the story.
1. Begin by writing the word in English using the fingerpaint. Go one letter at a time and have your child trace them after you, reviewing the sounds that each makes as you go.
2. Then go on to create the corresponding Chinese character and have your child trace each stroke like before. You and your child can use different colors so that when s/he traces your strokes, you create different colors.