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Why We Fly

Why We Fly

The rocky start to senior year for best friends Nelly, who is Black, and Leni, who is White and Jewish, gets more complex when the cheerleading team kneels for the national anthem and each girl has to deal with the consequences.
Why We Fly

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Real-life events inspired Why We Fly and the book was written by two best friends, Kim Jones, who is Black and Gilly Segal, who is White and Jewish. Talk with students about what perspective is and how they think the perspectives of the authors impacted how their characters felt and acted.

Get students thinking further about the importance of considering the perspectives of others. Pair students and ask them to come up with an event or activity that they both recently participated in, such as a school athletic event, a class or club meeting, or assembly. Have each student in the pair write their own description of the event that includes their reactions to it. Then have them exchange stories. After reading, ask them to discuss how an event can be interpreted multiple ways and how their experiences, beliefs, and place in the world shape how they view and feel about events and how they communicate them.

Questions for Discussion or Reflective Writing

  1. What do you make of Leni’s and Nelly’s friendship? What effects do external pressures put on their relationship? How did Leni’s and Nelly’s perceptions and assumptions inform their decisions and actions?
  2. What does it mean to be an ally? An accomplice? When are good intentions not good enough?
  3. What examples of discrimination, racism, or racial privilege can you identify from the book? From your own experiences?
  4. What did Leni, Nelly, and Three learn about social justice activism? What did you learn about how to step up and when to step aside? How do you determine when it is a moment for you to speak or to listen?

Related Resources

Celebrate a nation of diverse readers with these recommended books, authors, and teaching resources.

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