The Story of the Wright Brothers by Annette Whipple

Dec. 17, 2020 Marks the 117th Anniversary of Powered Flight

See Virtual Celebration Details Below

The Story of the Wright Brothers: A Biography Book for New Readers

Annette Whipple, Author

Alessandra Santelli, Illustrator

Rockridge Press, Biography, Jul. 28, 2020

Page: 66

Suitable for ages: 6-12

Themes: Airplane, Wilbur and Orville Wright, Childhood, Curiosity, Dreams, Imagination, Inventions

Opening: “Impossible! Most people thought a flying machine would never work. For hundreds of years, people had been trying to figure out how to fly.”


The Wright brothers were the first to build and fly an airplane. Before they made history, Wilbur and Orville were curious kids who loved learning about the world around them. They weren’t rich. They didn’t go to college. But they fell in love with the idea of flying and taught themselves everything they needed to know to make their dream come true.

Young people will enjoy reading about Wilbur and Orville’s childhood. They were born just after the Civil War at a time when people traveled by horse and buggy or train. Their home had no electricity or telephones. There was no indoor plumbing and they used outhouses.

But they grew up in a loving home filled with books and parents who encouraged them to figure out how things worked. They grew up taking things a part and putting them back together again. They had a favorite flying “bat” toy that was propelled by a rubber band.  When it broke they studied the design and made their own. Later they built kites and sold them to friends. Their curiosity continued in many areas. They learned how to make the first self-inking printing press and published a newspaper, flyers and business cards for customers.

In the 1890s cars and bicycles appeared. The Wright brothers bought bicycles, took them a part to figure out how they worked and then began fixing bicycles for friends. They opened the Wright Cycle Company and fixed and sold bicycles. Eventually they began to design their own models.

Explore how the Wright brothers went from young boys in Dayton, Ohio who designed bicycles to world-famous inventors, the first aviators, and businessmen.

Why I like this book:

Annette Whipple has written an inspiring introductory book for young readers, who are curious and imaginative, and dare to dream. They will also learn how important it is to think outside of the box. For instance, Wilbur began studying flight by watching birds. He observed how birds tipped their wings when they flew. “Learning the secret of flight from a bird was a good deal like learning the secret of magic from a magician.”— Orville Wright

The book is beautifully designed and well-researched. It follows the brothers lives chronologically. The flowing narrative tells their story with a lot of boxed inserts about timelines, myths/facts, quotes from the Wright brothers and their legacy. My favorite are “Jump into the Think Tank” questions for kids. The chapters are short and each page features colorful and evocative illustrations. Chapter 8 features a quiz for readers about what they’ve learned, followed by a section about how the Wright brothers’ invention changed our world. There is also a glossary.

Both children and adults will enjoy learning details about the early lives of these young inventors, best friends and business partners. The book is perfect for children who like to take things a part and figure out how they work. And it will encourage young scientists and dreamers everywhere to create their own inventions.

I live in Dayton, Ohio and worked many years at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB). The Wright brothers may have flown their first glider from Kitty Hawk, but they tested and perfected their early aircraft on Huffman Prairie, which is at the end of the major flight line at Wright-Patterson.

The 88th Air Base Wing commander, along with members of the Wright brothers’ family and a limited number of Dayton Aviation Heritage National Park representatives, will join together Dec. 17, 2020 at 9:30 a.m. to lay a wreath commemorating the 117th anniversary of practical powered flight. This wreath-laying tradition began in 1978 at the Wright Brothers Memorial on top of Wright Brothers Memorial Hill overlooking Huffman Prairie.

VIEW THE CEREMONY VIRTUALLY:  Because of COVID-19 protocols limiting gathering sizes, the general public is encouraged to view the event online at

Annette Whipple celebrates curiosity and inspires a sense of wonder in young readers while exciting them about science and history. In 2020, She’s the author of several books including The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion: A Chapter-by-Chapter Guide, and Whooo Knew? Discover Owls.  When she’s not reading or writing, you might find Annette snacking on warm chocolate chip cookies with her family in Pennsylvania. Learn more about Annette’s books and presentations at her website.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Review copy won in a book giveaway by Annette Whipple on Vivian Kirkfield – Children’s Writer blog, in exchange for a review.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

22 thoughts on “The Story of the Wright Brothers by Annette Whipple

  1. I love books about real people. I recall reading a book about Helen Keller when I was young and it really made an impression. These stories encourage young people to do their best and follow their dreams.


  2. What a neat book! It really is amazing how two brothers created one of the most major forces of globalization on our planet, and that they did it so long ago! Thanks for the great review and the link to the ceremony!


    • Glad you enjoyed my review of this delightful chapter book for young people. It is amazing that they accomplished, all because Wilbur watched a little bird. And now we are touching down on Mars and have space stations etc. Wilbur died in 1912 and really get to live to see what they accomplished. Orville died in 1948 and saw trans Atlantic flight and the role aircraft played in WWII, in a span of 48 years. Hope you watch the wreath laying.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. 117 years! How time flies (sorry, couldn’t resist). Children can learn so much by gaining an appreciation of our past. For many young readers this will be the first they heard of this iconic duo. Thanks for the heads up on the wreath ceremony. I will try and tune in. Great post for MMGM this week.


    • Thanks Greg. I hope it will inspire the imaginations and dreams in kids. Kids are so interested in STEM and have so much more available to them to encourage their dreams. And I hope you can watch the ceremony. It is on the 88th ABW FB page. The event is listed on the left side of the page.


  4. That’s so cool that you have a personal connection with the Wright brothers, having lived where they did a lot of their testing.
    This sounds like an amazing book! My older son always preferred nonfiction when he was in elementary school, and this would’ve been a book he would’ve loved, since it’s about flight.
    Thanks for featuring this!


    • You are welcome Jenni! Yes, I would have loved a book like this one when I was young. I worked at Wright-Patterson AF in community relations/media for many years. Students can tour the base and visit Huffman Prairie (nationally protected) where the brothers really perfected their aircraft. And, of course there is the U.S. Air Force Museum — believe there are now 5 huge hangars to tour — big tour site. And the Dayton International Air Show in the summer.


    • Yes, my connection does make it fun for me. Spent many years working at Wright-Patterson in PR and Community Relations. A lot of inventions came out of Dayton, like the cash register etc. Dayton is a lovely community — not too big — with a lot of wonderful cultural events. It’s also very attractive.


  5. Wonderful review, Patricia. I loved the line, “But they grew up in a loving home filled with books and parents who encouraged them to figure out how things worked.” I’m working on the quotes from readers of Story Chat, “Out of Character,” and the importance of books is mentioned more than once. I guess it pays off. The Wright brothers were sure way beyond the thinking of their time. So amazing!


  6. Pingback: Story Chat: “Out of Character,” A Cautionary Tale – Marsha Ingrao – Always Write

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