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Maria Salvadore

Reading Rockets' children's literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids' books both inside — and outside — of the classroom.

Flat Stanley goes to the gym

February 18, 2011

A while back, a child mailed a Flat Stanley to me. I took pictures of the intrepid traveler at local landmarks and with college students before mailing the paper thin guy back home.

Even more recently, Flat Stanley made the Sports section of The Washington Post.

This time, the flat fellow started his journey in a first grade class in Penngrove, Califonia, and made his way via a friend of the teacher who is in the Air Force; she facilitated lots of interesting photo-ops for Stanley including a visit to her daughter's gymnastic team at Edison High. And it was there that Stanley became part of the elite team.

One of the team members seemed particularly intrigued by this character inspired by the Jeff Brown books. Even though she never participated in a Flat Stanley project as a younger student, she found it interesting as a young adult. It is fun to think of all the many places Stanley can visit.

The Flat Stanley project was started by a teacher over a decade ago and is getting ever higher tech. (Stanley is even on Facebook and has iPhone apps.)

But what it says to me is that a book character brought to life can spark imagination, even connect people and generations in unexpected ways. After all, to quote Tia Eberline, "He became part of our team" which is quite an accomplishment for a guy as small — and flat — as this one.

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"Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them. " — Neil Gaiman