The Dragon Booster Story

Once upon a time there was a dragon.  I mean, a long, long time ago there was a million dragons that liked to race.  One dragon had to save the day.  That dragon’s name was Dragon Booster.  He raced the other dragons.  He was so fast that the other dragons couldn’t catch him.  So he had to save the day from the evil dragon because it had a big ol’ bone around it that had power.  He didn’t even know that it was a dragon because it had a big ol’ bone around it that had power and then there was an evil dragon owner and he, dragon Booster’s dad had come to save him.  He fought the old dragon.  The evil dragon knocked his father off his dragon so Beau jumped on the owner.  The owner said, “Dreggy, Dreggy dragon.”  Ad then the dragon said, “Dang.”  And the dragon came and stepped on his bony neck and the owner picked his owner up and then he said, “Release the dragon.  Release the dragon.   Release the dragon.”  He got so mad that the evil dragon blew up, I mean flew away and hit a rock. (excerpt of Shawn’s story). 

Dragon Booster

The Magic Whale

Once upon a time, there was a magic whale that like was a king of the ocean.  And he had an owner but they had an evil whale enemy.  So, so um, so the good whale fought the evil whale.   They used their magic powers to fight each other.  The good whale was winning but the evil whale was stronger.  That is the end.

The two stories above were told orally by Shawn, a year one student to researchers, Urback and Eckhoff.  They intensively observed a group of students over four months to determine the validity of utilising popular culture in writing development, particularly oral literacy.

Oral storytelling has been around for hundreds of years and this is evident through the vast Aboriginal Dreamtime stories that are available.  Each culture shares a variety of stories, England has oral historians to continue oral stories as they believe it is a social orientation.  Oral language is a vital tool to ensure the right trajectory is paved for early and middle reading and writing development.  It is association with vocabulary, boosting grammar, morphology and pragmatics.  There is plentiful research on the correlation between oral language and reading development but the results of oral literacy and writing, or creating stories, is sporadic but there is some evidence that writing is enhanced by boosting children’s oral language.

Furthermore, children are greatly engrossed in popular culture, whether it be a television show, movies, music, sports, devices, trading cards or video games, just to name a few.  Children utilise their popular culture knowledge to engage in school work.  However, as many teachers, including Shawn’s, believe there is no validity behind using popular culture and there is no reliance in the classroom.  In the above example Shawn’s teacher reported to the researchers she believed Shawn relied too heavily on his favourite games, television shows, movie characters and sport stars to construct stories and as a result it was impeding on his imagination.  Urback and Eckhoff asked Shawn to tell a story, any he wanted, which resulted in The Dragon Booster Story.  They then asked Shawn to tell a story that didn’t rely on any of his “favourites”, as you can see above is the story The Magic Whale.  Clearly from the examples it demonstrates popular culture is a success in oral storytelling to enhance children’s literacy development.

Oral storytelling using popular culture encourages expressive phonology.  Examples may include something similar to the sound effects of a superhero – Pow! and Bam!  The sound of a ball – boing, boing, boing or an emotion – yuuuuummmmm.  Adding these comedic elements bring emotions into a story.

To further illustrate I decided to try the research out myself and asked a student, 9 years 10 months, in Year 4 and we will call him Zac.  Zac has an interest in magic and is engaged for long periods of time watching magicians Cosentino and Criss Angel on YouTube.  He has some magic sets at home, and reports from his mother indicate that he practices until he considers he has mastered the tricks.  Zac’s teacher informs that he is reluctant to construct stories and takes some time to come up with ideas.  However, once he is connected with the activity Zac applies himself to his work.

The Magical Story

One morning I decided to go outside and, wow, I saw my favourite star.  He was a magician called Cosentino outside.   And the best thing was it was my birthday and he moved house next  door and he gave me his new magic kit and taught me all of his tricks.  I couldn’t believe what was happening!!  When I was older I moved out of my parents house and headed to the Land of Oz and Cosentino moved next door to me again.  He asked me to help him with his magic show so we went into a partnership.  Cosentino and I wanted to be better than Oscar Diggs, who was doing his magic show with his wife Theodora and using the Munchkins as his assistants.  But that was not it, Criss Angel was next to my house on the other side.  Cosentino, Criss Angel  and I had a meeting and we decided the best thing to do was all join together to make one big magic show.  Bazinga.. that was it!! We became the best magicians in the world.  The End.


Reviewing the details of the story it appears Zac has been exposed to magicians, Cosentino and Criss Angel, The Big Bang Theory with the word Bazinga and Oz the Great and Powerful using Oscar Diggs, Theodora and the Munchkins as characters in the story.  Next is a story Zac told orally without using any of his “favourites”.

The Dream

Once upon a time and I thought I was dreaming but I wasn’t dreaming.  I was in a different world.  The world seemed the same but it was actually different.  The giant animals would become small and the small animals would become giant animals.  That’s a problem I hadn’t thought about.  The End.

As demonstrated by Zac it becomes clear that popular culture does enhance oral storytelling skills which eventually will also help with written storytelling.  With an increased vocabulary students will benefit with a whole literacy development – reading, writing and speaking.  


Crawford-Brooke, E. (2011). The critical role of oral language in reading for the title I students and English language learners. Retrieved 28th September, 2014, from

Urbach, J. & Eckhoff, A. (2012). Release the Dragon: the role of popular culture in children’s stories. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 13(1), 27-37. Retrieved 28th September, 2014 from

Wolf, E. (2002). Learning language and literacy. Retrieved 29th September, 2014 from


Dragon Booster



Comments on: "Once Upon a Time I Saw a Dragon…" (2)

  1. I think youth popular culture has great value in the scope of learning, youth popular culture represents how the youth of today spend their time which equates to interest driven learning and interest is a great motivator for learning. From personal experience with this course I know if my interest is peaked so to are my cognitive functions, I think differently, I try harder, spend more time on, am more committed and I understand and take in more information than in subjects that I am less interested in all because I enjoy the subject. If it happens to me imagine the impact it can and does have on youth, as educators we need to run with students interests, if you can get them (students) interested in a subject half the battle is done for you!


  2. As you mentioned, oral story telling is how the history of humans has been told and passed on from generation to generation. It has also been the mode by which cultures have explained the world around them. I have studied with students the Creation Myths of many cultures and they are all different because they are told in relation to the world of those people – if you like, the “pop culture” of their time.
    I also agree with students using the world of popular culture to explain or create. As a science teacher I have always referred to TV or movies and even music to engage students or to illustrate a point. Authors are always told to “write what you know” and for students, they know the culture that is around them at the time.


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