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Flying Lessons & Other Stories
Flying Lessons & Other Stories | Ellen Oh
89 posts | 31 read | 44 to read
Whether it is basketball dreams, family fiascos, first crushes, or new neighborhoods, this bold anthologywritten by the best childrens authorscelebrates the uniqueness and universality in all of us. In a partnership with We Need Diverse Books, industry giants Kwame Alexander, Soman Chainani, Matt de la Pea, Tim Federle, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Walter Dean Myers, Tim Tingle, and Jacqueline Woodson join newcomer Kelly J. Baptist in a story collection that is as humorous as it is heartfelt. This impressive group of authors has earned among them every major award in childrens publishing and popularity as New York Times bestsellers. From these distinguished authors come ten distinct and vibrant stories. From the Hardcover edition.
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AriaBlue
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The book cover sticks out to me in a few ways. I like how there is a paper airplane on the cover as it reminds me of my childhood when my dad taught me how to make those. Also, I like how everyone's name is included as it gives recognition to every storyteller.

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kodieleidson
Pickpick

Overall, I really enjoyed reading the book. I enjoyed it at an adult reader and I think it could be very useful to use in a middle grades environment. While the reading level is for more of a middle school level, there were several stories in the book that could be utilized in a high school classroom.

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kodieleidson

I really enjoyed reading “The Beans and Rice Chronicles of Isaiah Dunn”. It dealt with discussing alcoholism in a really gentle way that is show through a child‘s eyes. It hits you where it hurts while reading about it though a child that doesn‘t fully understand the situation and has to navigate it all with that lack of understanding.

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kodieleidson
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I liked the book more than I thought that I was going to. The different messages behind the short stories are applicable to many different students and the length of the stories are short enough that they won‘t dissuade any learner from reading it.

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becky_lalaian

“I will ride the winds and surmount endless waves. Setting sail on the vast ocean, I will one day reach the distant shores.“ This quote is a poem that Lingsi had to read in “The Difficult Path.“ It makes me think about her fascination with the ocean, and reminds me of my own love for it.

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becky_lalaian

A lot of these stories are good for middle school readers to read because of the different topics and situations that they deal with. Stories such as “The Difficult Path“ and “The Beans and Rice Chronicles of Isaiah Dunn“ deal with things that younger readers might not have a lot of experience reading, or might be curious about. For example, take Lingsi being sold to the Li family, and the topics of homelessness, and alcoholism.

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becky_lalaian

I feel that all of the stories in “Flying Lessons & Other Stories“ are good for middle school students to read. Because of the nature of the stories and the way they seem to all be told from a young narrator's point of view, I feel like this makes them more relatable and will resonate with younger readers.

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becky_lalaian

Something that stuck out me was how in “Welcome to the Neighborhood“ from FL&OS the narrator talks about his father's views on hospitality, and how it doesn't matter how little or how much you have. You always offer what you can and invite someone into your home. I especially took note of how he ties this into the topic of reading a book. “Books are homes, have been homes, will continue to be homes.“ It is a writer's job to invite the reader in.

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sofiajurado
Pickpick

Overall, I loved the diversity and variety of stories in this anthology. It definitely seems like a great tool to use in a Middle School classroom, especially the stories with tough subjects and the poetry. It's a great way to ease kids into reading and thinking critically about what they read.

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sofiajurado
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“The Beans and Rice Chronicles of Isaiah Dunn“ was a really powerful story. I love how the author tackled tough topics like alcoholism and homelessness in a way that is palatable to young audiences, but without taking away from how those issues realistically affect children and family dynamics. Although there isn't a “happy ending“, it still ends on a hopeful note, which could make for interesting discussions about that decision in the classroom.

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CassidyCheatwood

Overall, I really like the diverse stories presented in this children‘s lit anthology. The use of poetry was refreshing. I wasn‘t TRULY introduced to poetry until I was about 16. I think it would be smart to include poetry for middle schoolers to begin to learn how to analyze poetry and learn how to just, simply read them with open minds. I used to hate it because I didn‘t know HOW to read poetry. Anyways, I really enjoyed it!

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CassidyCheatwood

This was a really interesting poem to me. It kind of felt like it was about a brain freeze, but the banging of the head also confused me because I couldn‘t tell what had happened to cause this kind of whole body pain. But I love how it described the pain, it felt really artistic in a way to me. Maybe that‘s silly, but it was cool. It kinda shows how sucky headaches are and I have them too often so it was lowkey relatable.

CassidyCheatwood Okay the picture WILL NOT WORK!!!! But it was “HEADACHE” on page 75 of my online version. SORRY YALL! 1mo
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DanyYnad
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Pickpick

Overall, I really loved Flying Lessons! This collections is great in so many ways and I loved the variety of stories and more personal, vulnerable experiences that so many can relate to.

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DanyYnad
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I loved the inclusions of poetry in this book! It‘s nice to see poetry geared towards younger audiences with styles of poetry that show just how creative and understandable it can be. Poetry can be daunting but making it relatable is such a nice way to open up to a wider audience of readers and I loved this poem.

sofiajurado I also loved the poetry in this story, even thought I'm not usually a fan of poetry. It was quite simple and would be great to ease kids into reading and discussing poems without it being too intimidating. 1mo
1 like1 comment
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DanyYnad
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Seeing multiple forms and styles of writing was refreshing compared to other books I‘ve read that were collections of short stories. The variety really makes it so readers can see the different forms of writing and build their preferences. This story in particular really struck me as how it important it can be for kids to find those people and those places to escape to, grow, learn, and take into their own lives.

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DanyYnad
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I absolutely loved this short story and the way that such complex feelings and experiences were told through much simpler language. I appreciate this story and others in Flying Lessons for how they can cater to a much younger audience than classic YA does while still carrying the heavy weight of some harder topics.

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abbytayloryalit
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I think the poem “The Point Is' would be an important poem to study in the class. As a future teacher, I worry about presenting enough material that students can relate to at some point. Obviously not every student is going to relate to every piece, but I would like them all to feel seen or at least be able to relate to a work at some point. I think this piece could highlight the perspective of some of the quiter students.

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abbytayloryalit
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I think Kwame Alexandar's poem “How to Write A Memoir“ is a fantastic way to open a unit of narrative writing. I think that writing can be a very daunting task for some students and this poem really shows that this type of writing can be whatever the students want it to be. I think his poem makes writing feel more accessible to all studnets.

becky_lalaian I agree that “How to Write A Memoir“ is helpful when it comes to narrative writing, and writing in general for students. It's important for students to know that their creativity in writing is not only accepted, but encouraged. 1mo
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abbytayloryalit
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I really liked the first page of the story “The Difficult Path“. I felt like there was a shock value to the first sentence because the speaker immediately mentions how she was “sold to the Li family“. As a college student I did a double take and reread the sentence to make sure my understanding was correct. I feel like a middle schooler would have a more intense reaction and that it might be a good attention grabber.

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abbytayloryalit
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I loved the story “Secret Samantha“. I think this story has the potential to be so validating for middle school student who have yet to find their friend group and the place where they feel they fit in. I feel like at some point in one's life everyone has a point where they feel like an outsider or even not confident in where they fit, so this would be a far-reaching story.

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amw40488
Pickpick

There were so many unique stories in this anthology that I particularly enjoyed. “Seventy-Six Dollars and Forty-Nine Cents“ was fun in its method of story-telling and the story's concept. “Secret Samantha“ and “Flying Lessons“ were interesting for their portrayal of youthful hesitance and curiosity regarding friendships/relationships. All in all, this was a very enjoyable read!

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amw40488
Pickpick

I think this compilation of stories is very well-suited for middle school readers! I think it helped that the narrators in these stories were of middle school age, so it felt like these were stories and characters that young readers could really connect to. I am curious and excited to find more books like this one to recommend to younger readers!

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ms.gabourel
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I absolutely LOVED the writing in this excerpt! How could something be so quiet and so powerful? Why do we equate volume and power? Could someone not be able to be silent yet powerful? I think this would be a great short story to discuss with students as it's super thought-provoking.

Alexa_Cussans I really liked “Main Street.” I found the writing style to be very simple, but also impactful. I think this quote is a great example of that. 1mo
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kristinsmoyer
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In “The Beans and Rice Chronicles of Isaiah Dunn”, Isaiah‘s home life leads him to find an escape in reading/typing his father‘s old works at the library. The stuffiness of the motel room where his family lives made me think of how an unstable home life can leave a child feeling a sense of homelessness…like there‘s nowhere secure for them to turn to. This can definitely affect a child‘s behavior at school, with other adults, peers, etc.

amw40488 While reading this story, I thought about how difficult it must have been for Isaiah to have to grow up that fast and assume the role of a parent for his younger sister after the death of his father. Finding his father's writing seemed to make him feel like a kid again, no matter how momentary the moment was. The library may have also felt more like home for Isaiah than that stuffy motel room was. So many layers to this story! 1mo
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kristinsmoyer
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At the beginning of “The Difficult Path”, Lingsi experiences a lack of agency as a servant and a prospect for an arranged marriage. When Lingsi is taken by pirates, her ability to read makes her useful and saves her from a more brutal fate. This illustrates how literacy enhances an individual‘s agency.

Alexa_Cussans I loved this story! Your perspective on it is so interesting! I never saw this as a story of agency until now. 1mo
2 likes1 comment
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kristinsmoyer
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In the story “How to Transform an Everyday, Ordinary Hoop Court”, I like how the narrator says there is a part of our brain that tries to justify procrastination or laziness. He is particularly referring to wanting to sleep in rather than practice basketball. I like how in the next line he says, “Reach into your own skull and smack this part of your brain upside the head”. It was a good reminder of the importance of diligence for achieving goals.

colby_reads I loved this line too. I especially resonated with this part of the story as a former athlete, but it also applies to just life in general. 1mo
1 like1 comment
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ms.reagan
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I wanna come back to “Seventy Six Dollars and Forty Nine Cents”. Because this piece is a memoir, I think this would be a perfect opportunity to have your students construct a memoir of their own, whether traditional writing, verse, or maybe some sort of artsy thing! It demonstrates the liberty thad some memoirs can take and how artistic embellishment in stories is often a little fun!

kristinsmoyer I like how you‘re thinking of how to incorporate the text into a classroom activity! 1mo
ms.gabourel I agree with you on the class activity! Especially because these short stories are such a quick read. You could even read multiple as an example for the students. 1mo
abbytayloryalit Hi Maddie! I think it's amazing that you are thinking of ways to incorporate this book into your classroom. I think it really shows the shift in your perspective from student to teacher. 1mo
2 likes3 comments
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kristinsmoyer
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In the Editor‘s note at the beginning of the book, I liked how the editor mentioned humanity‘s proclivity to tell stories. Our stories as individuals and groups help us form our identity. (page xii)

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ms.reagan
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After reading “Seventy Six Dollars and Forty Five Cents”, I personally cannot wait to take a look at more stories written in verse. It‘s such a different writing style then our students will be used to! Another thing is that it can open up discussions on how different writing styles can impact the overall perception and reception of a story. I personally cannot wait to use stories like this!

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CassidyCheatwood
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This is from “MONDAYS ARE QUIZ DAY.” I found this one quite intriguing due to the style of writing. It was harder to follow because of the stanzas but the story itself felt like someone was speaking directly to me, which I did like. I wonder what the authors intention was here, and in the following poems after, like “Jeopardy” and “The Kill.” If anyone has any ideas LETS TALK ABOUT IT!!!! Because seriously, I‘m curious.

ms.reagan I was also really interested in this writing style because of how personal it made the book feel! The direct speech brings a different (i‘m not sure how else to describe it )element that definitely could bring about healthy discussion in a classroom! 1mo
2 likes1 comment
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CassidyCheatwood
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Using “How to Transform an Everyday, Ordinary Hoop Court, into a Place of Higher Learning and You at the Podium” was a great choice to open up this anthology of short stories. To recall from the story, this moment was my favorite part. Some of my favorite parts of literature is when I see and feel vulnerability from a young person. He described his dad often as short with him during their rides and dinner, so this moment was touching to me.

ms.miranda_readsbooks I also really loved that part of the story, especially considering the situation that took place before this with the police officer. I really loved how each story really showed a different type of parental relationship, and how children can view those relationships. 1mo
2 likes1 comment
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ms.gabourel
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This moment from “Sol Painting, Inc.” was incredibly impactful. Upon reflection, each story‘s ending is poignant. This is why I love reading books of short stories; you get to experience so many different worlds within 200 pages of a book. I think this would be a great story for MS aged students to read. It would‘ve definitely made me reconsider how I treated my parents 😬😬

kristinsmoyer I think the stories in this book show how when we‘re early teens, we‘re often insecure and very focused on ourselves, but having that moment of selflessness from the father definitely stands as a good reminder for kids of the sacrifices parents make on behalf of them! It would have been a good reminder for me at that age too! 1mo
ms.miranda_readsbooks I also highlighted this quote when I was reading the story. I think it really wonderfully shows what our parents sacrifice to give us better opportunities, especially for people of color. It really makes me thankful for all my parents have sacrificed to allow me the opportunities I have been given today! 1mo
abbytayloryalit I absolutely love this quote and think you are so right Amy! I feel like at the middle school age kids get increasingly more involved in themselves and less concerned with others' feelings. I think this story alone would challenge kids to think about what their guardian have done for them or even what they wished their guardians would do. 1mo
2 likes3 comments
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ms.gabourel
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I loved this final comment in, “How to Transform an Everyday, Ordinary Hoop Court into a Place of Higher Learning and You at the Podium” by Matt De La Peña. I especially loved how the author uses the word “you.” When listening to the audiobook, this made the message feel very personal. I loved the sentiment of this final passage too.

ms.reagan I LOVED this direct address! It created such a deeply personal element to an already personal story. I think students would really enjoy this! 1mo
colby_reads This was my favorite story in the book because I was able to resonate with what the narrator was talking about. I felt like he was telling a story about me when I was growing up which made the story even more personal for me. 1mo
2 likes2 comments
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ms.gabourel
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After reading the “Secret Samantha” story in “Flying Lessons: and Other Stories,” this final passage stood out to me. This was a very sweet story, I enjoyed the subtle discussion of Sam‘s parents divorce. I think that this could be a great story for middle school aged students to read, particularly if they are going through a similar situation. I would this book to my recommend to my students!

abbytayloryalit I totally agree with you. I think kids could totally relate to Sam's parents getting divorced. In addition, I think this story is super important because it is about being seen by someone else. I think this book could really encourage students who don't feel like they have a place or a friend group. 1mo
DanyYnad I agree! I loved the subtle ways that a lot of the stories in the book make challenging topics seem a lot easier to digest. This story was also a personal favorite of mine! 1mo
1 like2 comments
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sarabeth_donaldson
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Unless it catches my eye, titles don't jump out too much to me. Kwame Alexander's short story-in-verse, “Seventy-Six Dollars and Forty-Nine Cents“, was no different. I read to the end of the story, still wondering how much Angel Carter's mom paid to get her hair braided (including tax). It didn't matter much, but I was surprised Alexander didn't reveal that detail to the audience. But he DID - in the title! It made me laugh.

ms.miranda_readsbooks OH MY GOD! I just audibly gasped! The way I didn‘t even realize this until I read your post 😹 thank you so much for clarifying this because I was still wondering how much she paid for her hair! 1mo
1 like1 comment
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sarabeth_donaldson
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In “Main Street“, Jacqueline Woodson breaks up these sentences into sections (not just paragraphs). It isn't quite verse, but it gives it a very poetic feeling. She also uses the italics to show quotations, which is also poetic. Her style is abnormal, especially in a short story format, but it highlights the feeling that the main character's emotions are all over the place. Very impactful.

kristinsmoyer This passage‘s writing style also stood out to me. It captured my attention compared to the other passages, and I thought it was emotive/poetic. 1mo
1 like1 comment
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ms.reagan
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Another thing that came to mind when reading this book was that it would be so easy to turn each little story into its own lesson. There is no continuity between them, so you could easily isolate a couple that fit with your overall unit theme/purpose and create really engaging material!

sarabeth_donaldson I agree -- I love the flow of the stories! I appreciate the way this series of stories gives us many themes and lessons. Some are similar, and some are very different. This book is very versatile. 1mo
DanyYnad I had the same thought! I feel like it‘d make for a great book to keep throughout a school year and introduce stories as they fit with different lessons especially with how there‘s different kinds of styles like poetry, entries, fiction, etc. 1mo
2 likes2 comments
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ms.reagan
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I‘m really enjoying this book a lot more than I originally thought. There are so many different types of lessons and messages behind these simple short stories that will appeal to every type of student! They don‘t take long to read and the different writing styles throughout this book will appeal to every learner!

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Laurenwhite0508
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I thought this book was an excellent compilation of short stories and I think that it would be a great tool for a middle school classroom. I also think that it would be a great resource to pull short stories from for any age. There were several essays in the book that I think could also be used in a high school classroom room, or even read aloud in an elementary setting. This book has the potential to be a great classroom resource!

Alexa_Cussans I also found this book to be an excellent classroom resource. Although it was targeted for early teens, I believe it can be enjoyed by all ages! 1mo
2 likes1 comment
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Laurenwhite0508
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“Main Street“ was another essay that did a great job tackling sensitive subjects. It seemed that because the main character was trying to work through a lot of grief after losing her mother, she found peace in a friend who was struggling as the only African American family in the town in New Hampshire that they lived in. The author does a great job of capturing their feelings of isolation.

Alexa_Cussans I also really liked how the author captured isolation through their characters! I really felt for the characters in this story and their struggles. 1mo
2 likes1 comment
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Laurenwhite0508
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I really enjoyed “The Beans and Rice Chronicles of Isaiah Dunn“. It is common in these essays for the authors to address difficult topics such as sexism, racism, classism, and this story deals with alcoholism in a very sensitive and considerate way. This essay really jumped out at me because alcoholism is recognized and considered through the eyes of a child, who does not fully understand it, but still is forced to navigate his mothers illness.

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sofiajurado
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I liked how the first story was written in second-person POV. I don't think I've ever read any stories in second-person, which made this an interesting read. It would be great to introduce a text like this to younger students, who also might not have read or even heard of second-person, and discuss its impacts on storytelling because you have to place yourself in the author's perspective.

kristinsmoyer Second person is very rare, and it‘s interesting how it allows the reader to feel like they‘re living the story vicariously! 1mo
1 like1 comment
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sofiajurado
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After reading the first 4 stories, I think my favorite so far is “Secret Samantha“. The themes in this story would speak to a middle school audience, as it deals with identity in an interesting way. I also think it was a good choice not to reveal Blade's real name. The ambiguous ending could spark a fun discussion with students.

DanyYnad I also really loved this story! It was so nice seeing the different topics that this story touched on and how it made it all seem relatable and good and I also loved the details it kept to itself! 1mo
2 likes1 comment
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Alexa_Cussans
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Pickpick

I just finishing reading Flying Lessons and other stories! I really enjoyed this book. I believe that students in middle grades or early high school would enjoy a book like this because these stories are short, simple, and tackle heavy topics in a digestible way. My personal favorites from this book were “Secret Samantha” and “The Difficult Path.”

sarabeth_donaldson I also love the short and simpleness of it. It was an enjoyable read, but there were certainly parts that were hard. Including stories from a diverse group of authors is also important because students are likely to find a story or character that they relate to. 1mo
ms.reagan Me too! The length of the stories were just short enough to hold most students attention but contained so many impactful messages for just about anything a student could go through! 1mo
3 likes2 comments
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Alexa_Cussans
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I really enjoyed Seventy-Six Dollars and Forty-Nine Cents. I loved how the story was written in verse. I found it quick to read and believe that it would be enjoyable for students who don‘t have patience for long stories.

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Alexa_Cussans
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I really enjoyed reading Flying Lessons by Somali Chainani. I found the protagonist of the story to be really relatable. As someone who struggles with social anxiety, I felt really seen through Santosh‘s character. I personally really liked the part where he refused to play with a boy on the beach, thinking that he was only talking to him to be nice. I found it very relatable.

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amw40488
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Started my reading day with ‘Secret Samantha‘ and ended it with ‘Main Street.‘ I‘m really enjoying the narration in each of these short stories; each seems to capture both the innocence and the maturity that comes with being a young teen. Although these stories are mostly light-hearted, I also appreciate their depth and how they approach tougher subjects, especially in ‘Main Street‘ and ‘The Beans and Rice Chronicles of Isaiah Dunn.‘

Alexa_Cussans I also liked how some of the stories tackle sensitive topics in a digestible way! I personally really liked “the beans and rice chronicles of Isaiah Dunn.” 1mo
2 likes1 comment
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Laurenwhite0508
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I have read the first two stories in the book so far and have really enjoyed them. The way that the book is formatted is very appealing to me because I think it could work really well for a student who may not have the attention span, or the interest in a more traditionally formatted novel. I also like that the first two essays have been equally captivating, but also very different in certain ways.

amw40488 Totally agree! I think a collection of short stories is a great choice for kids who might have the attention span or interest for reading. The variety of stories also keeps things a little more fresh and interesting, in my opinion! 1mo
Alexa_Cussans I never thought about how a collection of short stories could be helpful for kids with short attentions spans! I think you‘re completely right! 1mo
3 likes2 comments
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AriaBlue
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Sports are a big part of society nowadays. “How to Transform an Everyday, Ordinary Hoop Court into a Place of Higher Learning and You at the Podium“ by Matt de la Pena was a great story. I liked how the author used basketball to talk about finding your place in the world. Sports have a way of bringing people together and this story is a great example.

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AriaBlue
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While reading Flying Lessons & Other Stories I liked how many people of different races and ethnicities were represented. Diversity is important because not all readers are the same and everyone should be able to relate to a story while reading. Plus I believe that all readers should learn about different cultures which help well-roundedness.