Not Your Typical Dragon literature guide

Grade Level: 
PreK, K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Celebrating Differences
Relationship Skills
by Dan Bar-el - A guide for parents, teachers, and group leaders to accompany the reading of this picture book. The guide below provides before, during, and after-reading discussion questions to celebrate the talents of children who are differently-abled and reconsider the idea of only one right path to learning and success.

Parents, children, and educators will recognize how young people feel when they are pressured to meet milestones and be like other people. This simple story about dragons and knights helps us talk with children about the gifts of people who are differently abled. The humor and exaggeration spark meaningful conversations about the value of respecting the gifts we each bring in making the world a better place. This book is a good springboard for discussions to gain awareness and appreciation for children who speak or learn at a different pace, children with autism or Down syndrome, and anyone who feels anxiety or isn't neuro-typical. 

Before Reading

Ask: What do you know about dragons? 

Show: Look at the picture of Crispin dreaming about what he'll be able to do when he turns seven. What are some things you are or were expecting to be able to do by a certain age? 

Connect: Not everyone learns to do the same things. And most of us learn at different times. Acting curious and caring when someone is different than you is the best way to understand. Why is it NEVER okay to tease someone or criticize them for being different?

During Reading

Ask: In what way are Crispin and Sir George (the thin, shiny knight) similar? Think about how they weren't like what was expected of them.

Show: What do you notice about the different things that came out of Crispin's mouth? What do you think that says about Crispin's character and caring for others?

Connect: How did Crispin and Sir George show curiosity and caring toward each other? What are some ways you can show curiosity and caring for others?

After Reading

Ask: What happened that showed Crispin's different ability added a gift to the family and community? 

Show: Compare the pictures of Crispin escaping alone to the cave and then surrounded by people at the end. What changed? What are the benefits of a community? Note: Someone doesn't have to be a hero to be appreciated for who they are. 

Connect: Sometimes what seems different is someone's special gift. What benefits came to the community because they respected Crispin's differences?


  1. Draw a picture of Crispin using his gift in a situation that might come up for you. Think about something that has troubled you in your community. It could be related to people who feel left out or different. Then draw the needed thing coming out of Crispin's mouth.
  2. Think about what is in your heart, similar to the kindness in Crispin's heart that showed up in the things coming out of his mouth. Write a poem or paragraph about how your heart comes out in your words and actions, even when you aren't trying. 
  3. Do you know someone who is differently abled? Learn about their differences and similiarities. Think about how you can show respectful curiosity and caring. Write a question you can ask or think of a way to engage in conversation and fun.
  4. Use this toolkit to investigate the issue of neuro and phsyical diversity and prepare to take action.