A School Visit: Helping Young Dragon Tamers

For an author, the chance to visit a school and read to

students is its own reward. Sharing your work and vision, seeing

kids experience your story – it’s hard to top.

I recently visited a local elementary school to share

Liz Tames a Dragon (and her Anger) with kindergarten through

third-grade students. Before the program

started, one parent remarked, ”My son has three

lively dragons.” Yes, that’s why I’m here, I told her.

“Has anyone ever tamed a dragon?” I asked the children.

Most shook their heads, though several claimed to have

impressive experience.

Then I introduced Liz, my story character who has

trouble getting along with her little sister. The

character shouts and throws toys to express her

emotions. She feels herself morphing into an angry,

fire-breathing dragon. I asked the students, “How big does your

angry dragon grow?” They used their arms to indicate size, showing

long, tall dragons. The kids stomped around and showed

claws.

“That’s right,” I said. “Dragons breathe fire and stomp

around. And they do that over and over again. Dragons

aren’t very good at solving their problems. But smart kids

have many ways to solve their problems.”

In the story, Liz finds new ways to express herself. She takes a walk

to cool down, pays attention to her body’s physical cues, and starts

using calm words. Her happy sister proclaims, “You’re

the Queen of Dragon Tamers!”

I say, “Remember to slow down, do something that helps you feel

calm, use calm words, and you’ll be a dragon tamer, too.”

“I’m King of the Dragon Tamers!” the boys cried in

unison. “I’m Queen of the Dragon Tamers!” the girls

cried together.

As I left the school, I knew my work made a difference.

If we believe in kids’ ability to develop self-control,

they’ll believe in it, too. And they’ll work harder at it.

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