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The Year We Learned to Fly by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by Rafael López

“Use those beautiful and brilliant minds of yours. Lift your arms, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and believe in a thing.”

Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael López, creators of The Day You Begin, collaborate once again on this beautiful new picture book. Inspired by the stories and strength of enslaved people, Woodson pens a story of resilience, imagination, and hope for our current lives—hope that our minds can allow us to fly, to lift us to new places and positive ways of thinking.

Reading Woodson’s work always inspires me to write, so after reading this story, my third graders and I all took a moment to close our eyes and imagine where we might go if we could fly. Here’s a few of their journeys:

I closed my eyes and for a few moments I was…

“…flying alongside all kinds of birds. In a place where you wouldn’t get cavities if you ate candy, where everyone was an angel, where COVID-19 is POOF! Gone. Where dinosaurs still exist.”

“…on a roller coaster with my family, having fun, no cell phones, no internet. Just us as a family, screaming, laughing, joking.”

“…in Splatoon as an inkling fighting octo-lings, swimming through ink, gathering eggs.”

“…flying above the state with wide wings, looking down and seeing all the wonders of Oregon, watching cars scurry around the roads, looking at hundreds of rushing people.”

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