Written by Tami Lewis Brown
Pictures by François Roca
Plucky Elinor Smith was six years old when she first went for a ride in a rickety "flying machine." At ten, she was taking flying lessons with blocks strapped to the rudder bar so her feet could reach it! By the time she was seventeen, she had become the youngest licensed pilot in the United States, male or female, and earned the respect of famous pilots like Charles Lindbergh.
Elinor dreamed of making her living as a professional pilot, but not everyone thought that girls should fly. When male pilots and newspapermen mocked her, Elinor decided to perform an aerial maneuver they thought was impossible. It would take training and preparation. But this aviation pioneer was determined to show that with talent, hard work, and plenty of grit, a girl could climb to any height.
These questions can be used during an interactive read aloud to engage student interest.
- Have you ever been on an airplane? How is this airplane different? (page 4)
- What did the old pilot mean when he said, "She has the touch?" (page 6)
- Why does Elinor go to the airfield every day before school? (page 8)
- Why are some people upset about Elinor wanting to be a pilot? (page 15)
- Why was flying under bridges illegal? Why is Elinor still planning on doing it? (page 19)
- How is Elinor Smith like Jackie Robinson? (page 35)
I Love to Fly and So Does Elinor Smith
In the author's note, Tami Lewis Brown quotes Elinor as saying, "For me there was only one path: I knew from age six that I wanted to fly. Flying was the very breath of life to me and I was successful because I loved it so much." What do your students love to do? It could be anything; playing a sport, dancing, drawing comics, collecting things... whatever they feel passionate about. Encourage your students to research a person who is famous for doing their favorite thing. Who are they? Where did they grow up? How did they become so good? What were some struggles they faced?
Your students can share their passion with the rest of the class by creating a poster. The heading of the poster can read, "I love to ... and so does ..." Half of the poster should describe what they love to do, give background information and can include pictures or examples of their own work. The other half can feature the person they researched. When all the posters are finished, your room will be full of your students' favorite things and role models who strived to do what they love!
- Elinor dreamed of being a pilot and worked hard to become one. What do you dream of doing?
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