Flying Lessons and Other Stories edited by Ellen Oh (of We Need Diverse Books) will be your new go-to book of short stories for middle school and high school. The writing is absolutely incredible with short stories meant for ages 8 – 12 written by amazing, award-winning, and diverse authors.
Matt de la Peña
Kelly J. Baptist
Walter Dean Myers
Flying Lessons and Other Stories in the Classroom
I see this book as required reading for middle school. Not just because of the diversity of the authors and their stories but because each of the short stories contains the power to change readers’ lives. The stories grab your attention and hold it. You’ll be as impressed as me by the authors’ mastery of their craft and the universal themes and lessons within each story.
Teachers, you’ll want to use these stories liberally. I can think of so many applications including:
- Comprehension: summary and retelling
- Understanding characters, setting, and culture
- Action, conflict, resolution
- Strategy instruction: inference synthesis
- Empathy building and life lessons — what we can learn from each story
- Mentor text for short story writing
- Author’s Purpose
Flying Lessons and Other Stories at Home
Parents, you’ll find that each story is unique in its message and style, but are all equally excellent in writing. Read together either at bedtime or mealtime. You’ll probably want to stop and talk about what you notice, the feeling the story evokes, and lessons you’re learning.
And, what I really love is that when you connect with one or ten of these stories, you’ll want to immediately find the other literature written by these authors.
For example, “Sol Painting Inc” by Meg Medina left me changed. Literally. I sat in my red chair, finished with the story, staring at the page, feeling the ugly discrimination the main character felt and her ah-ha that her dad took it so she wouldn’t have to. This heartbreak helped me glimpse another life, another world, and I wanted to know more. Now I have a Meg Medina reading list — I want to read all her books!
What else can I tell you about these stories? Some are hilarious (“Choctaw Bigfoot, Midnight in the Mountains”), some are inspiring (“How to Transform an Everyday, Ordinary Hoop Court into a Place of Higher Learning and You at the Podium”), some are both (“The Difficult Path”), and some are meaningful slice-of-life stories (“Main Street”).
I’m a new convert to the beauty of short stories because of Flying Lessons and Other Stories.
We Do Need Diverse Books — Like This One
In the children’s literature world, diversity continues to be glaringly lacking. Which not only is insulting and limiting to children, it is not an honest or accurate reflection of our world.
Throughout history, white male authors have dominated. Some of them are amazing talent. But, what about the rest of the population? When one group writes all the published books, we miss out on learning the stories of the other groups and individuals.
Flying Lessons and Other Stories is edited by Ellen Oh, a co-founder of the website: We Need Diverse Books. This movement, because it is a movement, one that seeks to include more stories in the children’s literature canon; stories from marginalized groups that reflect the diversity in our world. This book gives the movement a fantastic boost and is a significant contribution to children’s literature, middle school especially.
You don’t want to miss this incredible anthology of short stories for middle school and high school!
Also read: Chapter Books with Diverse Main Characters