How to Train Your Child to Love Dragons

Dragons have fascinated humanity for millennia. No matter which part of the world you travel to, odds are the indigenous culture had at least one myth devoted to these beasts. While some may run to conspiracy, the logical explanation for widespread dragon mythology is dinosaur bones… or are dinosaurs a cover-up for dragons?!

They’re not. Dinosaurs have always existed but it’s easy to forget that we’ve only started formulating scientific study on these fossils during the last couple centuries. Before then, they were just giant bones – proof that our planet once held strange and amazing animals.

The natural mystery of the dinosaurs gave birth to arguably the greatest fantastical creation of all time. One that symbolizes our creative spirit as a species and adds an element of wonder to our collective consciousness. So, in my mind, passing on this love of dragons is essential in healthy human development.

After all, I love dragons and I consider myself a well-balanced individual (twitch).

Early Childhood

If you’re trying to get your child to love anything then start early. I don’t mean ramming dragons in the face of your baby and screaming “like it!” – rather, maybe just choose books and films that are age appropriate. Luckily, popular culture has you covered.

In terms of movies, recent hits like Pete’s Dragon and The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader both feature friendly, nonthreatening creatures. Another obvious choice is the How to Train Your Dragon series from Dreamworks Animation.

If I may state a personal preference and a loved childhood memory, I would recommend Flight of Dragons. This light, whimsical fantasy gives dragon flight and fire a pseudo-science explanation and features a lot more elements of the genre. Talking animals? Got it. Ogres – yeah there’s one. James Earl Jones voicing the villain who turns into a giant monster – okay, we’re onto something here.

Also, it’s got this song:

Yeah, that will be in your head awhile. It’s a wonderfully meta film, choosing the author of the source book as a main character. And speaking of books, you don’t get much more famous than The Hobbit. Read that to your child and I guarantee, apart from the giant spiders, Smaug will be a highlight.

In terms of other books, really you can’t go wrong. There are so many dragon stories out there. I would also advise purchasing those giant picture books – like World of Dragons or something. They’re image focused so literacy isn’t a barrier, and the better ones feature drawings that will compel the development of a healthy imagination.

children dragons
One of the coolest aspects of dragon lore is how many different shapes and designs the creature can take. Try to look for literature that highlights each vision.

The tweens

As kids age, “cool” starts to matter more. Everyone wants to be cool – gotta do the cool things to be cool. However, they’re not quite teenagers yet so, you know, parents have yet to become the exact opposite of cool. So you can still make recommendations but the best bet is just making things available for consumption.

A film like Dragonheart, while rated PG-13, is perfect for this age range. After all, you can’t get much more awesome than Sean Connery voicing a dragon. It’s a little more violent without being Game of Thrones and the sexual innuendos will likely fly over your childrens’ heads… like a dragon, get it? I’m very clever.

Notable books include easy reads like Harry Potter, stuff your child can devour and process easily, helping to fuel not just a love of dragons but a greater affection for reading in general.

Harry Potter children dragon
Harry Potter ages along with the series, but its never particularly terrifying or overtly mature.

Teenage Years

Okay, now you’re not cool anymore. Being a teenager is all about being rebellious. Are they old enough to watch Game of Thrones? Doesn’t matter, they’ll likely watch it anyway.  However, this desire to revolt can be capitalized on with some appropriate dragon literature.

Gork the Teenage Dragon is every story of young adult high school trauma and liberation only… you know, with dragons. We follow Gork, a young, smaller dragon who is too nice for his own good. This hurts his chances of winning a female for the mating dance (a more straight forward name for “prom”) and impressing his family.

Gork has no idea what he wants to be but he feels the enormous pressure to be great. Typical teenager stuff, just substitute the people for dragons.

teenage dragon books
I feel the cover gives an excellent indication of the overall tone of this story.

The Magicians trilogy also provides dragons in more mature setting, although parents have to be comfortable exposing their child to teenage sex and drug use – if anything, it can be seen as prep for actual high school.

At this point, more scholarly works like Beowulf may also be attempted. Video games like Dragon Age also, as the name suggests, feature dragons very promptly. And I think it’s safe to assume that Skyrim will still be being released on new systems, even ten years from now.

And there you have it. Obviously there’s more to cover. I haven’t even scratched the surface of dragon pop culture.

I don’t claim to be an expert on the subject but I like to think that I still remember what it was like to be a child. Dragons are amazing creatures of power and mystery. These are qualities that I believe are attractive to children. Keep in mind, you don’t always have to go traditional.

As I mentioned in the beginning, dinosaurs are part of dragon lore and can easily expand the overall love of fire-breathing winged beasts. There’s also Godzilla, who is pretty amazing and fights other dragon-like creatures on a regular basis. I’m just saying.

Marketing Method: Bethesda Softworks

Video games, am I right? For many people out there, is there any product you would more eagerly shell out your hard earned dollars for? Most of us (myself included) love video games. The best ones are immersive, thought-provoking and wildly entertaining. Sure they cost sixty bucks but for hours of content. Few companies do a better job of backing that up than Bethesda. Think about the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, how many days did the average player sink into that? Bethesda Softworks, the video game publisher in charge of both the Elder Scrolls and Fallout series, is a top-of-the-line video game publisher. Most of their hits are really hits. We’re talking a AAA company. So why am I talking about them then: mainly to use as an example to reflect a much larger critique on the entire video game industry. My criticism is simple. Do you love Bethesda games? Can you not wait for Fallout 4 or the Elder Scrolls VI to come out? Well you should. You should wait. In fact you should wait until a year after they are out.

Now hold on there, we’re all eagerly awaiting Bethesda’s next big thing so why am I urging patience? Surely as fans, it is our job to go out there and show our monetary support for the video games we want. Yeah, Bethesda’s fans are very good to Bethesda. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has sold at least ten million copies (as of last July). There was even a super awesome collector’s edition released for all the true Dovahkiin out there. Here, take a look at it below:

Pretty swanky.
Pretty swanky.

This is cool looking product. I mean dragon statue, that’s it right there. More exactly, however, this collector’s edition included the following: a making-of-Skyrim DVD, The Art of Skyrim official book, a statue of Alduin (everyone’s favorite dragon to kill) an official copy of the Skyrim map and a free passcode entitling the diehard, day-one buyer to all of the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim‘s upcoming dlc (downloadable content for those out there who don’t know the lingo) for absolutely no charge. Wait… scrap that last part. Only people who waited got that. Oh and they also only have to pay forty dollars: http://www.playstationlifestyle.net/2013/03/12/the-elder-scrolls-v-skyrim-game-of-the-year-edition-listed-by-amazon-dated-for-june-2013/.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Game of the Year Edition, all dlc included for only two-thirds the price of the original game. This is not the first time Bethesda has done this. Indeed they have a very good track record since Morrowind. Oblivion, Fallout 3, and Fallout: New Vegas have all received a “Game of the Year Edition” that features every piece of dlc included in addition to the discounted price tag. Is Bethesda the only publisher pulling this trick: no. Is it unfair to the fans: yes. Is it our fault that they do this: yes.

Yeah true, so the person who waited doesn’t get the Alduin statue but really – what do you do with that? I’m curious to know. Really it just becomes a dust collector. The same can be true for any so-called “collector’s edition”. None of them ever include a free dlc pass (yes I acknowledge that some of them include codes for day one dlc but that’s it). Instead they all include stupid things that look cool enough to prompt a purchase but then are usually regretted upon later.

Collector's Edition: check. Good Edition... still waiting.
Collector’s Edition: check. Good Edition… still waiting.

Bethesda is very guilty on both these fronts. They love to release collector’s editions and they love to release Game of the Year editions. They are entitled to do this and they should so long as both options are financially rewarding. This falls on us as the market. We have to change how we purchase games. The way the market is structured now: day one purchasers always get the short end of the stick. For a culture that works on hype and generating excitement, all logic in the video game world demands patience.

For my part, I have become wise to Bethesda’s game. I paid twenty dollars for Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition and do not regret that purchase. I am now also planning to purchase the Game of the Year edition for Fallout: New Vegas. Doing so will allow me to play the entire game (all dlc included) and not experience the glitches that were reported by all day one purchasers. This is not fair but it is economical.

Bethesda was behind the Doom 3 BFG Edition, which included Doom 3, both of its expansions as well as the original Doom and Doom II.
Bethesda was behind the Doom 3 BFG Edition, which included Doom 3, both of its expansions as well as the original Doom and Doom II.

Now you can counter this argument. For instance, not everyone buys dlc. This is true and there is definitely enough game for your buck in Bethesda games without paying for additional hours. So really my whole point with this article is to continue to encourage informed decision. This is an era of recession and economic uncertainty. If you still want to buy Fallout 4 on day one, more power to you, but understand that you will not be making a financially logical decision. Kudos to you though for supporting the video game industry. It’s great that Bethesda’s fans are so awesome to Bethesda… but shouldn’t Bethesda be awesome back to their fans? No, they shouldn’t. Companies are not our friends, they exist to make money so that they can continue to provide the products we desire. It’s our job to be smart about it, it’s our job to be smarter than publishers like Bethesda.

Not all dlc is worth purchasing.
Not all dlc is worth purchasing.

Thoughts? Comments? Am I full of shit or onto something? Let me know now in the feedback section of this article.