I used to do a lot of youth work, and without fail, every boy that went with us told me they did not like books. I was determined that things would be different for my boys, but as I started really searching out good books for boys I realised - almost all - if not all boys would like books if they were exposed to the right ones. This is one that I feel would tempt the most reluctant of readers. It is a combination of a book, a set of toys, an craft project, a bit of science and a whole lot of fun.
The Klutz book of Paper Flying Dragons comes complete with 6 punch-out dragons made of heavy card and 6 baby dragons made of paper. In addition to this, there is a 50 page full colour book which tells you something about each species of dragon, shows its native habitat on a map, and gives very clear, detailed, step by step instructions for making your dragons. You will need a decent pair of scissors, and ideally a roll of cello tape. I used Scotch magic tape and would recommend this, but this does come some tiny strips of tape. I found these small fiddly and awkward though.
I bought this book only because I got a brilliant deal with Amazon Warehouse. I paid just under £3.00, so was happy enough to buy this just a fun activity for the cold winter days. I didn't really expect the paper dragons to last a long time, but we have had ours for 2 months now and the children play with them quite frequently. I do realise they will not last forever, but considering teh amount of use these have had, I would not hesitate to buy another book at full price (£7.58) when they eventually wear out.
The illustrations of the dragons are absolutely beautiful. The dragon facts are short but interesting, but I did skip the one section on cooking and eating dragons. According to the book they taste just like chicken. I did like that the book shows a map with a location for each, and these are real locations such as the South China Sea, the Kalahari Dessert and Patagonia. I felt that this does teach children just a little bit of geography. My sons enjoyed these sections as well. These make a nice supplement to the flying dragons, but I would not buy this book used without the dragons. The majority of the text is instructions. Building the dragons does take time, and there are several steps, but is is not really very difficult as the instructions take things very slowly and are easy enough to follow.
Once built, the dragons fly just like a paper airplanes. Many of them do not look like they will fly, but they honestly do fly very well maintaining altitudes for a good distance. A word of caution though, the punch out models are significantly heavier than average paper airplanes and easily capable of knocking over small ornaments. We did use these indoors, but primarily on the landing or down the staircase. the models are absolutely beautiful and would look nice as a room decoration as well, suspended from the ceiling on threads. I also think they would make lovely party decorations for a dragon themed birthday party, perhaps using the hatchlings as party favours. Our models have carried about, played with in castles, and flown over and over again.
Of course the dragons are brilliant fun but what is especially good a bout this is that it helps a child learn to follow written instructions. There are several steps to follow, and even an adult is going to stand virtually no chance of getting these right without reading the directions. A child who doesn't enjoy reading stories, is still going to want to read to get these made, although some adult help may still be needed. You can read the instructions together and help with the more complicated folds for a younger child. I would not recommend this for a child under eight, unless the parent is planning to do the building. Even at eight, so parts will need parental assistance. I feel it is just to complicated and would only lead to frustration. My youngest son does love the finished dragons, but I made all of his.
I would recommend this book for any child who loves dragons, it has given my boys hours and hours of fun. It is certain to be enjoyed by an avid reader but I think books like this may be especially valuable for children with little interest books. Klutz makes a wide range of activity books, suitable for both boys and girls. The finished product provides a tangible reward for reading, and will motivate the most reluctant of readers. Hopefully once they ahve the beautiful model, they will want to read the facts about the dragons as well. But even if they do not, this book will at least ahve them reading some, and the more children read, the easier it becomes, so they want to read more. this shows children that books can teach them fun things, this is a completely different experience from reading a school book, but once a child begins to discover books are fun, most will branch out and find other books enjoyable as well.
My son says this book is very nice and the dragons are really good fliers. He especially liked that the robo - dragon has several pieces to choose from so you can customise the dragon. His favourite though is the sea dragon because he spins and loops as he flies. He also likes the appearance of the wings which is very 3 dimensional, and he likes the colours of this dragon as well.