Paper Planes

Paper Planes, by Jim Helmore and Richard Jones


Mia and Ben are best friends and neighbors who live at the edge of a lake. They spend every day together, sailing, swinging, and making paper airplanes. They dream of one day making a paper airplane that will fly all the way across the lake. But then, Ben’s family has to move far away and the two friends are devastated. How will they stay friends and make high-flying, lake-crossing paper airplanes together from so far away? 

This story really sweetly and beautifully interweaves reality with fantasy, while also addressing the real sadness, fear, and challenges that children face when friends move away. It shows that ultimately, there are still ways to connect and remain friends from far away, but also acknowledges that it’s not easy. 

Given the current state of the pandemic in the United States, I know that a lot of children have had to stay home with their families and it probably feels like their friends might as well live a thousand miles away. While the situation in this story is completely different, the characters feel isolated and lonely, a feeling many children are all too familiar with currently.

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Discussion Questions:

  1. What do Mia and Ben like to do together? What do you and your friends like to do when you’re together? 
  2. How do Ben and Mia feel when they find out Ben’s family is going to move far away? Do you think they’ll be able to stay friends?
  3. When Mia designs the wings to go with Ben’s plane, what is she inspired by?
  4. What are some ways that you can stay connected with your friends even if you can’t play with them or see them?

Activity Idea

Make your own paper airplanes! Try out a few different designs, and record which ones fly the farthest, fastest, highest, or do the most flips through the air!

Here are a few tutorials to get you started:

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