The Best Pet of All

Written by: David LaRochelle

Illustrated by: Hanako Wakiyama

Before Reading

Preview and Predict

This little boy can beg and plead all he wants but his mother is unwavering: they will not get a dog. But when he asks if he can have a dragon as a pet instead, she says that he can keep one if he can find one. When he finds one, they both realize very quickly that dragons don't make the greatest pets. Before you find out why, take a moment to talk about the cover and illustrations throughout the book. Make predictions and observations to engage your child's imagination. There are several prompts and questions throughout this guide, so don't feel pressured to ask them all in one reading. Your child benefits from multiple readings of a story, so spread your questions out over several readings. Ask:

What do you notice on the cover? Why do you think the boy is sitting with a dragon?

{If your child has a pet} Do you like having a _____ as a pet? Why/why not?

In your opinion, what is the"best pet of all"? Why do you think that? Do you think there would be any problems to having that as a pet?

What do you think will happen in this story?

{Flip to an illustration} What do you think is happening in this illustration?

As You Read

Build Language

Every once in awhile, you can interject some vocabulary words to discuss the story with your child. You can talk about personality traits that the characters in the story demonstrate like PERSISTENCE and STUBBORNNESS. For example, say things like, "The little boy is very PERSISTENT. He keeps asking his mother for a dog even when she keeps saying no. He won't give up. I can remember a time when you were very PERSISTENT about..." You can also say, "This dragon is very STUBBORN. He refuses to leave their home even after the boy's mother asks him to repeatedly."


Monitor Comprehension

Stop every once in awhile to clump information or make connections between parts of the story and the real world. Include questions like, "What do you think a spaghetti bath would feel like? Where else would you look to find a dragon? Do you have chores? What are they? Why do you think dragons are scared of dogs?"

After Reading

Make Connections

Once you've finished reading, have a discussion with your child about what s/he gathered from the story. This is an opportunity to reinforce newly learned vocabulary like PERSISTENT and make connections. 

Did you like that story? Do you have a favorite part?

Why did the boy ask his mother for a pet dragon? What did she say?

Is a dragon a good pet to have? Why/why not?

How did they get the dragon to leave?

{Flip to the page that reads "My dog waged its tail."} What are the boy and the dragon doing in this picture? Why do you think they are giving each other two thumbs up? Do you think they planned this so that the boy could get a dog? Why/why not?

Extending the Story

Phonemic Awareness Classification

Source: Teach Mama


There are all sorts of different animals out there, but some make better pets than others. Turn your junk mail into a fun game categorizing animals based on physical characteristics, the letters their names begin with, their habitats, etc using these instructions by Teach Mama.


STEM Extensions

Next step is determining whether or not any of these animals would be good pets. Create a chart that consists of five columns: Animal Name, Good Pet (Yes or No), Pros and Cons, Notes. Fill out this chart with whether or not you think these animals would be good pets. This may require some research about certain animals to determine what they eat, what their habitats are, etc. Any extra information you come across can go into the Notes  column.