Night Flight and Amelia Lost
- Exploring Picture Book Biographies. Read aloud A Picture Book Biography of Amelia Earhart by David Alder (see Further Explorations below for details). Make a list of what students learn about Earhart. Next, read Night Flight. What do they learn about Earhart in this book? What differences do students notice between the two books? Through this discussion, tease out the differences between a cradle-to-grave picture book biography and a narrative picture story book biography that focuses more specifically on a single event.
- Dramatic Journeys. After reading Night Flight, discuss the ways that Amelia Earhart and other female pilots were pioneers. What are some dramatic journeys that pioneers are taking today in the skies and in our oceans? As a class, research either a recent ocean expedition or a project involving the Space Shuttle or the International Space Station. Or, try to locate a simulated space flight or ocean journey online, and use the information to write a class book that conveys a dramatic journey of today, using Night Flight as a mentor text.
- Verse Nonfiction Mentor Text. Writing traditional cradle-to-grave biographies or book reports after reading only one biography on a subject can be a boring experience for many children. Ask your students to research an important figure in the world of art, science, or politics, using online databases of children’s and young adult magazine articles, primary source materials, and children’s nonfiction picture and chapter books. Have students use the information they have learned about the figure to focus on one moment in his or her life in a picture storybook biography told in verse, using Night Flight as a mentor text.
- Alternating Narrative Mentor Text. Amelia Lost is ideal for nonfiction literature circles or book clubs, within language arts and/or social studies, within an investigation of biography, exploration, pioneers, technology and transportation, or mysteries. Fleming does an exceptional job at layering and scaffolding the mystery of Earhart’s disappearance. By starting with Earhart’s disappearance, and shifting back and forth between the disappearance and Earhart’s life, she both builds dramatic tension and helps to further contextualize how Earhart wound up on the dangerous journey. In response to reading the book, students could research another figure from history, and then use Fleming’s structure as a mentor text, alternating between a cradle-to-grave biography and a significant event for which the figure is known.
- Multimodal Explorations. Amelia Lost would make an ideal ebook if the primary source material on each two-page spread contained active links that allowed the reader to experience the book in multiple modalities. Using some of the online links below, have students create their own multimodal Amelia Earthart experiences, from photographs to radio recordings to newsreels, to share with one another.
- Women in Flight. After brainstorming what you know about early female aviators, divide your class into six groups. Each group will read one of the following three picture book biographies: Night Flight, Talkin’ About Bessie, and Soar, Elinor! (see Further Explorations below for details). Have the students make a list of what they learned about each female aviator and what new questions they have. Jigsaw the students together to share information, and then discuss why they think Amelia Earhart gets so much more attention that the others.
- History of Women in Flight. Read aloud the picture book biographies: Night Flight, Soar, Elinor, and Talkin’ About Bessie to provide students with some prior knowledge of early female aviators. Using the online databases available through your local library or some of the online resources listed below, research these pioneers. You might want to have some read Women of the Wind and others read Almost Astronauts (see Further Explorations below for details). Have students debate why Amelia Earhart has gotten so much media attention over the years. Why did she get attention when others did not? Why have some other women like Amelia Earhart, who got media attention in their time, faded from our memories?
- Women in Flight Today. After reading Amelia Lost, , have students investigate the number of women who are pilots today in the public sphere, such as the military, and private sectors, such as personal and airline pilots. How many women in the space program today started out as airplane pilots? What might be the incentive for women to become pilots? Why disincentives are there? In today’s work climate, how are women pilots treated compared to their male counterparts? Is the current economy impacting female pilots more than male pilots?
- One of David Adler’s cradle-to-grave picture book biographies.
- This new picture book biography brilliantly brings to life Elinor Smith, who, in 1928 at the age of sixteen, was the youngest person in the United States to receive a pilot’s license. In 1930, Smith was voted the best female pilot, over Amelia Earhart. Like Earhart, Smith wrote for magazines, and even hosted her own radio program; she is most famous for illegally flying under the Brooklyn , Manhattan, Williamsburg, and Queensboro bridges in October 1928, at age seventeen. The author spent hours interviewing Smith and her son in order to write this beautiful picture book.
- In this hybrid blend of fiction and nonfiction, Grimes’s first-person verse narratives create a collective portrait of Bessie Colman, a “barn stormer” stunt pilot and the first African-American female pilot, who met an untimely death in 1926.
- As part of the Who Was…? series, this cralde-to-grave biography focuses a great deal on Amelia Earhart’s childhood, and how it shaped her future self.
- This informative beginner reader biography explores Earhart’s life in surprising detail.
- The collective biography of early women aviators contextualizes Amelia Earhart among other daring women of her time, including those who preceded her into the skies.
- This fictionalized version of a true event provides a personal snapshot of the friendship between Amelia Earhart and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt.
- In this Sibert Award-winning photo essay, Stone articulates the role early women aviators played in creating a new crop of female pilots during and after World War II who trained for the space program in the 1960s and proved themselves equally capable of male astronauts, and in several cases, more so.
- A crade-to-grave biography of Amelia Earhart featuring DK’s signature photographs throughout.
- A cradle-to-grave photo essay of Amelia Earhart’s life is presented in typical National Geographic journalistic fashion.
- This Orbis Pictus-winning picture book biography blends beautiful paintings by illustrator David Craig with archival photographs of Earhart and artifacts from her life, focusing on Earhart’s career more than her personal life.
About Mary Ann Cappiello
Mary Ann is a professor of language and literacy at Lesley University. A former public school language arts and humanities teacher, she is a passionate advocate for and commentator on children’s books. Mary Ann is the co-author of Teaching with Text Sets (2013) and Teaching to Complexity (2015) and Text Sets in Action: Pathways Through Content Area Literacy (Stenhouse, 2021). She has been a guest on public radio and a consultant to public television. From 2015-2018, Mary Ann was a member of the National Council of Teachers of English's Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction (K-8) Committee, serving two years as chair.
SLJ Blog Network