Monday, December 17, 2007

First Flight: Three Books about the Wright Brothers

It has been 104 years today since Orville and Wilbur Wright's famous flyer got off the ground for what is now known as the first flight. From a short hop into the North Carolina sky to a landing on the moon spanned only 65 years, a fact which seems amazing as we look back on the history of our time in the air.

Here are three books which pass on the wonder of that first moment of manned flight.

For beginning chapter readers, a simple, nicely illustrated book from a solid nonfiction series is The Flyer Flew!: The Invention Of The Airplane (On My Own Science) The simple text loses none of the thrill of Orville and Wilbur's first leap into space, and at Accelerated Reader level 3.2 it's accessible to most beginning chapter readers.

For slightly older readers, Jane Yolen, master of poetic prose for young readers, offers the story of Orville and Wilbur from the letters and diaries of their younger sister Katharine, who closely shared their disappointments and successes along the way. As the brothers pursued their impossible dream more fervently in the years just before the first flight, Katharine supported their efforts, even taking over the day-to-day management of their "day jobs" at their family businesses to free them for work on their invention. "I kept the store," she says. "Orville and Wilbur kept the sky."

In My Brothers' Flying Machine: Wilbur, Orville, and Me Katharine Wright's eyewitness voice brings the story of manned flight to life in a way that few biographies can.

For older readers award-winning history writer Russell Freedman's The Wright Brothers: How They Invented the Airplane documents the Wright's achievement in an excellent study of the inventive process behind their first flyer. Filled with many period sources and photographs, Freedman's book is a riveting and detailed story of this seminal event.

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