Margin Notes

Guest Writer Krista deMolitor Recommends Flying Lessons & Other Stories

May
07

Flying Lessons & Other Stories is the cure for the indecisive reader. This anthology of short stories is written by some well-known and lesser-known young-adult authors of this time, including one story by acclaimed writer of Booked and Crossover, Kwame Alexander.

This book starts off strong with a short story by Matt De La Pena entitled: “How to Transform an Everyday, Ordinary Hoop Court into a Place of Higher Learning and You at the Podium”. What a title! When the main character (whom addresses the reader directly throughout the story) has out-grown shooting hoops with his normal friends at the local court, he hears of a spot across town by his father’s work offering a higher calibre of play. He commits to waking up early on his summer vacation to go into work with his dad at 5am every single morning. His commitment to the game teaches him a lot about himself, his love for the game, and his father. It’s a great story for any reader.

The more I read, the more I appreciated the selection of short stories. Each story brought with it a unique perspective and new positive and negative stereotypes. The writing is fantastic and the selection of stories seamlessly flow through diverse topics with an array of characters. There are numerous opportunities for mentor texts in this book as well; whatever strategy you want to teach will have plenty of examples in these stories.

The characters are authentic and relatable which makes it an easy choice for a classroom lacking in that area. Race, sexual orientation, gender diversity, culture, and other topics relevant to today’s readers are explored tastefully and realistically through entertaining stories.

Not only would Flying Lessons & Other Stories make a great addition to any middle level classroom, it would also be a great choice for some variety with read-alouds. Book talking individual stories also proved useful as many students were asking me weeks later to borrow the “book about flying”. Students can easily pick it up and flip to the short story that interests them the most (or, find the story with the most captivating title!) and read as much or as little of it as they like.

Overall, it was a great read and an absolute necessity for any classroom.

Krista deMolitor is a grade 7 Language Arts teacher at George Street Middle School in Fredericton.

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