Wings of Fire Books: A Review for Parents

I read the first five Wings of Fire books (written by Tui T. Sutherland) to my kids aloud this year. I have three kids, and mostly I am reading the books for the older boys (aged 5 and 7 at the time of writing this post), though my daughter (aged 2) is usually in the room.

I don’t mind if she is bouncing around while we read, as I think it is good in general for her to hear the books even if she isn’t really obviously paying attention.

For context, I generally read more advanced/mature books out loud to my kids. I try to challenge them with books a lot, instead of assuming that they can’t understand more complex language or adult language won’t hold their interest. In the past 12 months, here are a few examples of the books I’ve read to to my boys:

  • A Wrinkle in Time
  • Stuart Little (original)
  • Doctor Doolittle (original)
  • Holes
  • Robin Hood (original)
  • The Hobbit
  • The Odyssey (an abridged version)
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • The Grey King
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Charlotte’s Web
  • The Black Stallion
  • The Thief Lord
  • Everything Roald Dahl
  • Dragon Rider (and Dragon Rider 2)
  • Harry Potter (1 and 2)
  • Where the Red Fern Grows

I also admit to ruthlessly editing the language or some words when I think it makes sense. While I think the complex language is important for my kids’ ever expanding vocabulary, there are just some words that I am not ready for them to be using.

I will also admit to editing or simplifying text that is mature/heavy (such as part of the book that deal with death, violence, blood). I felt the need to do this a bit when I read Holes (by Louis Sacher) recently to my kids. Not that I don’t think they are capable of understanding the topic, but because my younger son tends to get distracted from the story by the bad stuff. And a lynch mob wasn’t something I was prepared to explain three minutes before bedtime.

I also set aside books that are important for them to read, but I think that they can wait, such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and also Huckleberry Finn.

Wings of Fire Review: What age is this series appropriate for?

If you aren’t familiar with this series, here is a quick summary of the premise:

  • This is a world of dragons (not humans)
  • There are different types of dragons, and the world is divided up by the different types (they live with their kind)
  • One of the types of dragons is in a war over who should rule
  • This war impacts all the rest of the dragon kingdoms, which have to choose a side
  • There is a prophecy that a handful of young dragons, pulled from their separated kingdoms before hatching, will end the war

Throughout the books (13 so far as of writing this post), the Dragonets of Destiny (as they are called in the books) travel from land to land, trying to find their parents, and trying to figure out exactly what they are supposed to do to end the war.

Alright, now that you know what the books are about, let’s talk about whether they are appropriate for younger children. One of the reasons I read these books aloud to my kids (rather than handing them to them, as both my sons are capable of reading chapter books) is so that I can make decisions as we move through the book about what is appropriate for them to hear.

The language in these books is not overly complex or difficult to follow. Children aged 4+ will be able to follow it fine.

There is a ton of action in these books, lots of moving, hiding, searching, swimming, flying, hunting, and fighting. There are lots of characters and constant movement. This definitely helps capture younger kids who have a hard time sitting through dense sections of conversation. Ky kids were begging me to keep reading at times because they couldn’t wait to hear what happened next.

BUT. Here’s the primary thing I didn’t like. I don’t mind the fighting. But I did and do mind some of the descriptions of the wounding and killing of the other dragons or opponents. In some instances, it was to the point of being quite graphic, such as describing a broken neck, the blood, and the positioning of the corpse of the dead dragon on the ground.

It was during these scenes that I felt it was appropriate to either skip or heavily edit the writing. I don’t mind reading to the kids about fighting, or even death. Death is something we all have to work through and face, so I don’t try and hide it from the kids.

But for younger children (under age 9-10) I thought the killing scenes were a bit much for my taste.

Not all parents will agree with me on the violence/fighting issue, but for me it was a turn off and one of the main reasons why I chose to stop reading the Wings of Fire series to the kids after Book 5.

Other reason for discontinuing the series? Honestly, I got a little bored myself reading the book to the kids. Each book was just a bit more of the same of what we had read before. While this might have been fine for the kids, my attention was just not as captured.

Thus, we moved on.

Wrap Up

To summarize, I think that the Wings of Fire books are great to read with younger kids, so long as you are aware of the fighting/violence the text contains. The violence/blood is why I recommend that kids be a little bit older before they are given the books to read independently, perhaps in the 9-10 age range.

Have you read any of the Wings of Fire books in the series? I’d love to hear what you think of them. Let us know in the comments section below.

Also, if you have any questions about reading these books to younger kids, please leave them in the comments. I’d be happy to answer if I can.

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