Article

Wright Brothers Resources

By Lynne Burke
  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

Books

  • The Wright Brothers by Pamela Duncan Edwards (Hyperion, 2003).
    (Gr. K-3); 36 pages; $15.99.
    The story of how the Wrights got off the ground is at its most basic here. A group of mice trying to duplicate the inventions provide scientific and humorous footnotes. The accurate, muted illustrations mimic vintage photos.
  • My Brothers' Flying Machine by Jane Yolen. (Little, Brown, 2003).
    (Gr. 1-4); 32 pages; $16.95.
    Younger sister Katharine Wright's perspective brings humanity to this reminiscence that begins when the brothers are boys. Yolen's prose reads like a personal letter, giving readers an inside look at the close-knit family. Oil paintings relay more details, such as Wilbur's habit of wearing mismatched socks.
  • First To Fly: How Wilbur & Orville Wright Invented the Airplane by Peter Busby (Crown, 2003).
    (Gr. 3-8); 32 pages; $19.95.
    This tribute's large format showcases the evolution of flight with full-page, vibrantly colored paintings, archival photos, diagrams, and explanatory sidebars that provide the historic context students need. A chart of important dates, a list of pertinent Web sites, and an index make it a good reference.
  • The Wright Brothers: A Flying Start by Elizabeth MacLeod (Kids Can Press, 2002).
    (Gr. 3-6); 32 pages; $6.95.
    Another solid reference that includes interesting details not found elsewhere. Its size and design make information easy to find. Includes date charts of both the Wrights' lives and the history of flight, a list and description of Web sites, and an index.
  • One Fine Day: A Radio Play by Elizabeth Van Steenwyk (Eerdman's, 2003).
    (Gr. 3-7); 32 pages; $16.
    Written as a radio script, complete with production notes and instructions on how to make your own sound effects, this book focuses on the one day that made all the difference. Some lines of dialogue may seem a bit unrealistic, but this is still a worthwhile book for an exciting lesson.
  • First Flight: The Wright Brothers by Caryn Jenner (DK Publishing, 2003).
    (Gr. 2-4); 48 pages; $3.99.
    This book provides historic context for competent beginning readers. Illustrations complement the text and photos dominate each two-page spread. A simple graphic throughout lets students track the Wrights' progress chronologically, and a helpful glossary and index make research a snap.
  • Into the Air: The Story of the Wright Brothers' First Flight by Robert Burleigh (Harcourt, 2002).
    (Gr. 3-7); 48 pages; $6.
    The writing in this graphic novel is precise, all contained within idea balloons. Bold illustrations draw the reader into the scene to experience aviation first-hand. No energy is lost in descriptive overkill in the comic book format, which is why cut-to-the-chase students love this genre.
  • Touching the Sky: The Flying Adventures of Wilbur and Orville Wright by Louise Borden & Trish Marx (McElderry, 2003).
    (Gr. 3-5);64 pages; $18.95.
    Told in elegantly simple prose, this book details the journeys the celebrity brothers took years after their first flight, at the height of their fame: Wilbur's breathtaking tours of New York City, when he flew with a canoe strapped under his plane in case he crashed into the Hudson River, and Orville's triumphant visit to Europe, where he allowed the crown prince of Germany to hitch a ride.

Web Sites

  • Celebrating 100 Years of Flight
    Scholastic's site explores the history of flight with an interactive timeline, a booklist of recommended flight titles, a writing activity, and information on the Wright Brothers, Amelia Earhart, and space exploration.
  • Wright Brothers Aeroplane Company and Museum
    This "virtual museum of pioneer aviation" features a history wing, information desk, lots of photos, and great links to other Wright Brothers resources, such as films and homework help.
  • The First Flight Society
    The Web site of the society dedicated to memorializing early aviators; features the
    "First Flight Shrine," a hall of fame for fliers such as the Wrights, Amelia Earhart,
    and Charles Lindbergh.
  • Stories of the Wrights' Flight
    A fascinating lesson plan that teaches students about the use of and difference between primary and secondary sources, such as a diary entry by Orville and a newspaper article about the historic flight. 
  • The Federal Aviation Administration
    This site contains useful links to Wright Brothers info; the main FAA site also links to a fun quiz on aviation history.
  • Flights of Inspiration
    The Franklin Institute presents a narrative history of the Wrights' achievements, with a focus on how the brothers overcame a series of challenges to become the first aviators. The story of the first transatlantic flight is also told.

  • Subjects:
    Science, American History, Curriculum Development, Transportation
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