The Flights To and From LA – Book Stories

My flight to LA to appear on the Kelly Clarkson Show was packed.  I was in the three-seat section along with a nice young couple.  After a few hours in the air, it was apparent that she was pregnant.  He was glowing and reached over occasionally to pat her tummy.  She brought along plenty of healthy food, and shared her delicious figs with me.

Halfway into the flight I leaned over with a smile and asked when the baby was due.  “January!”, they both said.

I couldn’t help myself.  I knew what I had to do.  The conversation went something like this:

“Would you like to know the best thing you can do for your child?”

“Yes!  Please tell us!”  Their eyes were as big as saucers.

“Read aloud to your child.  You can start now, before the baby is born.  Goodnight Moon is the book you need to get.  Right away.”

“Wait, wait!  I have to write this down.”  He pulled out his phone and went to ‘notes’.

“I’m a preschool teacher in Massachusetts.  I recite this book every day to children before I begin chapter reading.  It’s rhythmic and rhyming.  Children love this book.”

“Chapter reading?, to preschoolers?”

“Yes.  When your baby is born, read all the time.  Music is also wonderful, especially classical music.”

“We’re both musicians.  I play the guitar and my wife plays the flute.”

My goodness!  We talked about music, art, playing in mud and sand, what to look for in a school, and I told them about the Eric Carle Museum.  This couple was over the moon with everything I had to say.  I remember the husband’s ‘lightbulb moment’, when he understood that a child can’t move forward and learn in school without hearing words and stories.

“Jennie, would you please quit your job and come and teach our child?”  How nice!

As we left the plane, they kept yelling out thank-yous and reaching out to me.  That’s as good as it gets.

Yes, I recite Goodnight Moon every day before chapter reading.  I sometimes do it ‘the silly way’, substituting children’s names into the story.  I even do a “Goodnight Moon Rap”


The return flight from LA was also packed, and I was in a three-seat section, along with a mom and her 10-year-old son.  They were quiet and friendly.  Every time they had to get up they apologized.  No worries, I kept telling them.  On this flight I had to finish reading the books the library had given me to review for Book Bears.  I host a library reading group every month, plus a read-aloud group.  It was peace and quiet to read, and I thoroughly enjoyed Gooseberry Park and the Master Plan.

As I was ready to put the book away, I looked over at the 10-year-old boy.  His head was down in a video game of some sort.  He had been a kind child on the flight, but he had not seemed happy.

Yes, I knew what I had to do.  Again.  I couldn’t help myself.

I leaned forward.  “Would you like to read a really good book?  I just finished it.  It’s so good!”

He looked up, and he smiled a big smile.  It took him only seconds to put away his video stuff.  I could tell he was excited.  I handed the book over and he settled in for a great read.  His mom was teary-eyed.  “Thank you.  He plays too many video games.  Thank you so much.”  She touched my arm and smiled.

As the flight continued, I kept glancing over to the boy.  He was absorbed in the book and looked happy.  When the flight landed, his mom took a photo of the book so he could get it at the library and finish reading.  Three people were very happy; it was a hat trick.

Never underestimate the power of a good book and reading aloud.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
This entry was posted in books, chapter reading, children's books, Early Education, Inspiration, literacy, music, preschool, reading aloud, reading aloud, School and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

77 Responses to The Flights To and From LA – Book Stories

  1. Darlene says:

    I just love this! No surprise that I talk about books on flights too. If I am lucky enough to sit by a child, I often read to them. Books are such a great ice breaker. One of the reasons I enjoy flying, even 9 hour flights. That young couple will never forget you or what you said. Lucky baby!

    • Jennie says:

      I hardly ever fly, so this was really delightful. I can see you doing the same thing with a child. Thank you, Darlene. I hope that baby will get plenty of reading.

  2. You’re a star Jennie!

  3. Dan Antion says:

    You are so kind, Jennie. Your advice to the soon-to-be parents was spot on. We read to our daughter from the moment she came home with her mom. Today, when she flies, she carries a book.

  4. beth says:

    It’s clear, you’re a literacy, childhood, and family angel. You do good wherever you go

  5. quiall says:

    Once again you proved my point: strangers are simply friends that have yet to be introduced. Good job. Love the rap.

  6. Oh goodness. This post warmed my heart, as your posts always do. What an important trip you took, in so many ways. ❤️

  7. Norah says:

    The ripples spread even further than these three, Jennie. Great job!

  8. Hi Jennie, this is such a lovely post. I always used to read to my boys on planes and they always take a book along to read on a plane or in the car. Unfortunately, I can’t read on flights or drives as I get car/air sick but I always take along an audio book.

  9. Maggie says:

    What a blessing and what wonderful gifts you gave! I remember when one of my granddaughters came for a visit. She told me it was not fun at her other grandmother’s house because they had no books to read. I cannot imagine a home without books or a child without books.

  10. johnrieber says:

    There is so much magic to be found between those pages!

  11. Jim Borden says:

    what a wonderful psost, Jennie. spreading the news about the power of reading at every opportunity – love it!

  12. I loved reading this!! Wonderful,

  13. beetleypete says:

    When you finally stop teaching, they should give you a free lifetime pass for the airline, so you can fly back and forth bringing joy! 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

  14. LiziRose says:

    Aww, this is such a sweet story 🙂 When my parents would read books aloud to me, it was always my favorite time of the day,

  15. Teachers all angels from heaven and their advice and teaching very worth it 🌹🙏🏼♥️😍🌹

  16. petespringerauthor says:

    Why am I not surprised that you connect with people even 35,000 feet off the ground? When I think back about some of my fondest memories as a dad, it includes reading to or with our son each night all the way through 6th grade. It brings a smile to my face to see how much he still loves to read as an adult.

    • Jennie says:

      Pete, I wish parents continued to read aloud to their children even after they learned how to read on their own. That’s why I started my library reading group. Of course you knew the wonderful impact it has on a child; just look at Ryan now…I rest my case. 🙂

  17. Great stories, Jennie. Thanks

  18. I thoroughly enjoyed this post! Book power!!

  19. How wonderful, uplifting, and inspiring Jennie!! Those chance meetings will resonate for a long, long time and I hope that includes reading for a lifetime. 😀

  20. Ritu says:

    See, touching lives wherever you go, Jennie!💜

  21. bosssybabe says:

    This shows how simple encounters can perhaps make a huge difference in someone’s life! What wonderful chance encounters 🙂 you would’ve made my day!

    When we’re passionate about something we wholeheartedly believe in, we can’t help but blurt it out to the world. 😊❤️

  22. What a delight it must be to share a three seat row with you!
    Now I have to say, (thunk,thunk) – “Good Night Jennie – Good Night Moon”

  23. liveterra says:

    Ay (moon) bizlerin yani ilk Türklerin gök tanrı inancında yer almakta fakat manihezim dinin de kutsal saydığı ay(moon), gök tanrı inancından farklıdır. Biz bu bağlamda çocuklarımıza ay’ı aydede olarak niteleriz

  24. Jennie says:

    I love this!! Thank you, Laura. 😀

  25. We always travel with books but I don’t usually travel with children’s books at my age. 🙂 You have moved my heart again with this tale. I agree with Pete. They should give you free flights to enlighten and bring joy on them. Loved the video. No wonder kids love you. You ‘get’ them. I’m in the process of moving and my books have been the hardest thing for my daughter and I to pack up. We can do without the kitchen, just the book have to stay a bit longer. 😉 Our masks say we are book dragons, not worms. 😉 You have embraced the butterfly effect on those flights. Many lives will be richer because of you.

    • Jennie says:

      Oh, Marlene! If I ever need a boost, you are the one. Thank you! Free flights to to enlighten and bring joy- wouldn’t that be like Christmas! I feel your heartache with moving and books. I’m a hard copy book gal, so if I had to move, parting with the books would be the last act. Yes, take away the kitchen, but not the books. The butterfly effect is such a lovely thought. Thank you for that…and so much more. 🥰

  26. What lovely, lovely stories, Jennie. I’m going to share this with my son and daughter-in-law who are expecting twins! Thank you and the best to you! Susan

    • Jennie says:

      Hi Susan! It is so good to hear from you. I’m glad you enjoyed the stories, and thank you for sharing them. Best to you and your daughter-in-law who is expecting twins!

  27. So wonderful how you spread the job of reading!

  28. Jermena says:

    That was incredible Jennie ☺️

  29. lebaneselily says:

    This post gave me goosebumps ☺️😌

  30. What a terrific post, Jennie! Never underestimate the power of a good book–and I love Goodnight, Moon, too. : )

  31. Carla says:

    You are such a wonderful advocate for reading, Jennie, and a great human being. Everyone who crosses paths with you are so lucky.

  32. dgkaye says:

    I always said, the world needs more Jennies. ❤

  33. You are so wonderful, Jennie! A real life scout. I fully agree with Debby’s comment. Have a beautiful week. xx Michael

  34. Oh wow! It was fate that you sat next to these people! This post made my day! I am going to think about it for a while because I thought I was the only adult I knew who reads children’s books! 😂

  35. Also, Kelly Clarkson has a show?! In LA??? 😂

    • Jennie says:

      Yes, she does. She is now the #1 daytime talk show. Yes, in LA. You can find my clip on nbc, October 5th. I was lucky, honored, and thrilled to be there.

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