I LOVED these books when I was in the fifth grade. While I felt the start of both of the books were slow, once I was immersed I wanted to become a dragonslayer. At the very least, I wanted a sequel to the series.
More recently, McKinley has published Dragonhaven. (Which I'll admit, I haven't gotten to read yet...it's in the stack...)
For a more positive look at dragons, check out Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle. (The first book, Eragon, was made into a movie a few years ago) The series kicks off with Eragon, a teenage boy discovering that he is a Dragon Rider and must go off on a quest of his own.
Want something for a younger reader? The classic The Paper Bag Princess is a picturebook, a parody and a wonderful example of early feminist children's literature.
When a dragon steals Prince Ron away, Princess Elizabeth, who was left in the rubble of her destroyed castle, must venture forth to save her prince.
Like the concept of touch young girls dealing with huge, tough dragons? It's a story type that's become quite popular (and could be worthy of some literary analysis. To contribute to your study, you can check out Dealing with Dragons, which kicks off the Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede.
Can you think of some more children's books that feature dragons?
Feel free to add to this list in the comments section.