Nine Dragons

by George Herman (Tuttle Publishing Boston Massachusetts 2003)

magnificently illustrated by Kristen Seaton

peace with ourselves-peace with each other

highly recommended but unavailable - maybe a copy in your local library


This amazing Asian folk tale draws upon the power of dragon imagery to magically transform our understandings of our world and the possibility of peace. The incredibly beautiful and detailed drawings presented of the dragons capture their unique personalities and purposes in the unfolding story. This tale is for older readers but remains suitable all ages to enjoy if shared together. It contains many peace-building elements:

  • happy endings

  • everyone winning

  • nonviolent resolution

  • imaginative and creative

  • challenges existing stereotyping

  • faith and hope

  • peace with the environment

  • finding personal peace

  • element that supports the idea that peace is possible

Two tribes, who are initially willing to go to war over limited resources, are drawn into the mountains. The mountains that had separated the two tribes for centuries, were home to nine, once feared, ferocious fire-breathing dragons. But like all humankind, there are dragons which are peace-loving and there are those which seek to solve problems in war.

The story begins with the words:

"The wind is a teller of tales. Late at night, when the darkness settles upon your world like a warm comforting blanket, the wind may come to tell you a story."

Immediately we are enticed to read on by the promise of another magical and mystical story. The dragons are swayed towards peace by the wisest and oldest of them and he convinces the others to try and stop the fight between the tribes before it begins.

In a world tainted with terrorism this beautiful story can help us appreciate the importance of trust and co-operation and invite confidence in our abilities to create peace together and overcome our fears.

This is another story that ends happily of course.....with everyone winning.

There are many other essential peace-building elements inherent in this beautifully presented story.

There is no violence, killing or death.

The two tribes are inspired to resolve their conflict peacefully.

Peace is always possible.

Dragons are wise, clever and can be peace making.

Critical questions to explore with children

  • What was the reason behind the two tribes coming into conflict with each other?
  • Did all the dragons believe the same things? What things were different about them?
  • What kind of dragon would you be portrayed as?
  • How did the dragons persuade the tribes to be peaceful?
  • Who was the bravest of the dragons?
  • What did all the dragons have to change?
  • Does the story have a happy win-win ending?

Creative questions to explore with children

  • Do you think dragons are dangerous?
  • Do you think that dragons once existed or exist today?
  • Which dragon would you be most like?
  • Should the dragons have let the tribes sort out their own problems?
  • Which group of animals are dragons most like?
  • Why did the dragons live in the mountains?

Teaching and Learning for Peace Foundation February 2005

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