If, like mine, your children are participating in Reading is Magic events at home, you might want to do some follow up activities together to keep that magic going for a little bit longer. 

As the ambassador for the event I was lucky enough to have a sneak preview of Cressida Cowell’s special 20th anniversary session where she answers 20 questions in 20 minutes about writing the ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ series, becoming an author and her future writing plans – she has exciting things in the pipeline! 

The event is lively and entertaining, and Cressida is wonderfully engaging and gives lots of encouragement to any budding young authors out there. There is a sign language interpreter, and all participants provide descriptions of what they look like and where they are to make the event as inclusive as possible. 

Cressida’s stories of childhood summers on an uninhabited Scottish island, how Hiccup and the other characters came to life from her early drawings, and her reading of a brand new story will probably provide inspiration enough for your children but, in case you are looking for more ideas, here are five activities that might help to get their creativity flowing. 

  1. Cressida says she imagines voices for her characters and loves her books to be read aloud. What voices would you use for the characters in ‘How to Train Your Dragon?’ or another of your favourite stories? Have some fun trying out different voices, accents and styles. 

  1. As a child, Cressida was encouraged by a teacher who showed her that writing was about imagination and ideas and she could still be a writer even though she struggled with handwriting and spelling. The teacher gave Cressida a book to write anything she liked and draw pictures of different people and places from her imagination. Can you draw some weird and wonderful characters of your own? Perhaps you could write, draw or tell someone where your characters live, what they like doing and what might happen to them? 

  1. Cressida struggles to choose just one of her dragons that she would like to keep as her own. If you could have a dragon, what would it be like? You could draw your dragon and tell someone about it, do an impression of it, or label your drawing with your dragon’s most important features 

  1. Real Vikings had amazing names, like Ragnar the Boneless, and described the world around them in imaginative ways. This is where Cressida got the idea for Dragonese from. In Dragonese, a chair becomes a ‘bum support’. Can you come up with some Dragonese words for everyday objects in your home? 

  1. The Isle of Berk is based on a real, uninhabited island in Scotland which Cressida visited as a child. Real Vikings once lived there and Cressida heard a lot of local legends about dragons which inspired her books. Do you know anything about the history of the place where you live? What real or imagined events might have taken place in the distant past? Perhaps you could tell, write or draw a real or mythical story based near your own home. 

If you and your children have enjoyed Cressida Cowell’s event, why not check out some of the other free, online events taking place during the Reading is Magic Festival?