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The Year We Learned to Fly

The Year We Learned to Fly / El Año En Que Aprendimos a Volar

illustrated by Rafael López

By following their grandmother's advice, a brother and sister discover their ability to use their imaginations to lift themselves up and escape their troubles as their ancestors once did.
The Year We Learned to Fly

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Stories provide a key means for students to understand the world around them and to open up their minds to imagining new ideas, concepts, and possibilities. Ask students to think about where they get their stories and who the storytellers are in their lives. What is it about reading, hearing, or telling those stories that launches their creativity and imaginations and helps them to fly?

Help students understand how we are all storytellers and encourage them to fly in their own ways by turning a vivid or favorite memory into a story they can share. Get them to think of a memory and connect it to the emotion it makes them feel. What does the memory help them fly to or through? Have students craft their memory into a story using a format that they want to use (oral or written story, poem, song, picture, etc.) and that gives them a chance to test their wings—though the medium is not as important as the creation of the story. Talk with students about how creating their story and sharing it makes them feel.

Questions for Discussion or Reflective Writing

  1. What do you think author Jacqueline Woodson means by "flying"? How did words help her learn to fly?
  2. How did the grandmother learn to fly? Why do you think she shares what she learned? How do her words help her grandchildren?
  3. Does “flying” mean the same thing for everyone? How do the boy and girl fly? How do you fly?
  4. How is using your imagination like telling a story?

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