by Lester D. Crawford
The day came when she realized her Dragon was not a pet; he was as much a person as she was, even if he was not actually a person, and he deserved the same consideration and respect that should be afforded every person.
She gained this appreciation for her Dragon because of reading to him. Even though in her society teaching the poor was a crime, an elderly gentlemen, who had once been a teacher to the children of the rich, risked imprisonment to teach the skill of reading to the homeless, orphan girl. She took the books her mentor gave her to the cave where she kept hidden her young Dragon. There, she practiced reading by reading aloud to him.
As she read, the Dragon watched over her shoulder, fascinated by the strange marks on the pages, wondrous marks that weaved words. He listened attentively, captivated by the stories: stories of adventure, stories that fed his curiosity, stories that taught him knowledge.
His favorite story was about a magical Dragon who lived by the sea in a far away, mist-shrouded land. The magical Dragon had a friend who would bring him gifts, and with whom he would sail on a boat, visit royalty, and scare pirates. Then came a day when the friend no longer came to play. The magical Dragon became sad. At that point in the story, the young girl’s Dragon cried. Then a new friend came to the cave to play and the magical Dragon was happy again. Every time, at that point in the story, the young girl’s Dragon rejoiced. The story always left him happy.
He liked holding the book, hugging the book. How gently he treated the book impressed the girl, considering how tough he was on his toys.
One day, he held the book out to her. She expected him to ask her to read the story again, but instead he said, "Mommy, please teach me how to read."