Flying Lessons and Other Stories

Book review by
Terreece Clarke, Common Sense Media
Flying Lessons and Other Stories Book Poster Image
Riveting collection reflects common dreams, struggles.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 12+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Kids will learn from the sheer diversity of the stories, genres, and writing styles featured in the book. The variety of perspectives and situations offers a rare opportunity to broaden horizons with a single book.

Positive Messages

Throughout the stories are positive messages about resilience and the importance of education, family, friendship, and belief in yourself. There's also an overarching message that kids experience common situations and have common feelings, wants, and desires, no matter their backgrounds.

Positive Role Models & Representations

There's a variety of positive role models, from supportive adults to positive young people who learn from their mistakes.

Violence & Scariness

There are attacking pirates and insect mutilation in one story; a girl is bought and used as an enslaved servant. In another story there are instances of mild bullying and an attacking monster that threatens a family, but no one is hurt.

Language

Some stereotyping in nicknames, such as calling a Latino kid "Mexico" and saying an African-American girl was probably a thief because of her race. Kids are called "nerd" and "stupid." 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know Flying Lessons and Other Stories is a collection edited by Ellen Oh, co-founder of the We Need Diverse Books campaign. It features work by award-winning authors Kwame Alexander, Matt de la Peña, Walter Dean Meyers, Grace Lin, and Jacqueline Woodson, among others. There are some instances of bullying, child slavery (in an earlier time period), characters dealing with racial stereotypes, budding possible same-sex and heterosexual crushes, the death of a parent, and alcoholism in a parent. 

User Reviews

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  • Kids say

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Teen, 14 years old Written byVeronica Falls September 12, 2018

A diverse book that seems good at a first glance but is in fact rubbish

Flying Lessons and other stories is a boring collection of diverse short stories from notable teen authors. I read this book while in the Chicago Battle of the... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old August 19, 2018

Confusing

I don't think these stories are appropriate for my age. I don't understand them, I can't remember them and many of them are boring. They are conf... Continue reading

What's the story?

In FLYING LESSONS AND OTHER STORIES, 10 celebrated authors create short stories for kids in a variety of genres and reflecting a variety of perspectives. Some stories focus on sports or family; others weave magical folktales; some have heartache and triumph. Each story features characters of different ethnicities, genders, orientation, family makeup, and more, but those differences are not what's highlighted. Kids' common dreams, pain, family struggles, and excitements are conveyed in each story, giving every reader -- whether the character looks like the reader or not -- something to identify with, learn about, and explore.

Is it any good?

Each story in this riveting collection is a gem that parents and kids alike will enjoy reading again and again. The stories are exciting, endearing, thoughtful, and refreshingly normal. Flying Lessons and Other Stories, edited by Ellen Oh, cofounder of the We Need Diverse Books campaign, features diverse characters, authors, subjects, and perspectives. But perhaps the most wonderful aspect of this collection is that race, creed, sexual orientation, and other such characteristics are not the main drivers of the stories. Some are simply slice-of-life tales that portray race and sexual orientation as being a part of everyday life -- a refreshing outlook often missing from stories that feature diverse characters.

Editor Oh and the all-star roster of authors show that books and stories featuring diverse characters and situations have no limits in terms of subject matter, time period, genre, or writing style.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the themes they identify with in Flying Lessons and Other Stories. What stories appeal to you, and why? Did you find any recurring themes among the stories? What perspectives were new to you?

  • There are many styles of story in the book, from historical fiction to sports-related tales. Why is it important to read stories written in different styles and genres?

  • Why do you think it's important for kids' books to showcase kids of different genders and a variety of socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds? 

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