Monday, January 18, 2016

The Wright Brothers, Pioneers of American Aviation...

Chapter 1 Learning from Mother 
Susan Wright wasn't like other mothers.
She was younger and prettier than most other mothers, and she liked to laugh and she liked to play games with her three youngest children: Wilbur, who was eleven; Orville, who was seven; and Katharine, who was four.
The other mothers would shake their heads and say, "Susan Wright spoils those children; lets'em do anything they want.  No good will come of it."
But Susan Wright only laughed.  In the summer she'd pack a picnic lunch and she, the two boys, and little Kate (no one ever called her Katharine) would go and spend a day in the woods.  Mrs. Wright knew the name of every bird and she could tell a bird by his song.  Wilbur and Orville learned to tell birds too... 
 ...That was another thing about Susan Wright.  Most other mothers would have thought that this was foolish talk.  Most other mothers would have said, "Oh, don't be silly, who ever heard of such nonsense!"  But not Susan Wright.  She knew that even an eleven-year-old boy can have ideas of his own, and just because they happened to come from and eleven-year-old head-well, that didn't make them foolish She never treated her children as if they were babies, and perhaps that's why they liked to go fishing with her or on picnics with her.  And that's why they kept asking her questions.  
And so begins The Wright Brothers, Pioneers of American Aviation by Quentin Reynolds.   We fell in love with the Wright Brothers after reading this Landmark title as part of our Beautiful Feet Modern American and World History study.  Inspired by their mathematically gifted mother right from the start, Wilbur and Orville loved building things from the fastest sled in town to the highest flying kite and the fastest bicycle.  But their real dream was to someday fly.  As they grew into young men, they spent years perfecting their plan until one day their dream turned into reality.

While reading The Wright Brothers, several things struck me about Wilbur and Orville Wright.  Aside from their ingenuity, they were diligent, dedicated, and hardworking.  When they set their mind to an invention, it usually always materialized into success.  The boys made enough money from odd jobs to finance their projects/experiments and only occasionally borrowed money short term from their mother and no one else.  In the end, their perseverance paid off.

Wilbur and Orville Wright were also largely self-educated.  After a hockey injury forced Wilbur to drop out of school, he continued to study math and science on his own free will.  He was a mechanical genius who understood how things worked.  Orville dropped out of high school to start a printing press business.  He was a little more of a free spirit and always trying to think of ways to improve Wilbur's inventions. Both boys were avid readers with inquiring minds.

The Wright brothers were family oriented.  They loved their mother and sister Kate dearly, as well as each other.  Wilbur didn't stop to think twice when folks heckled him about hanging out with his younger brother.  He loved Orville and believed he was one of the few who understood his thinking.  When Orville became ill, Wilbur sat by his bedside and read him books about gliders and flying. Sadly, neither Wilbur, nor Orville ever married or had children.  It appears they were more interested in flying than socialization.

We learned a great deal about the Wright brothers from Reynolds' book.  After reading, Riley and Ruben each chose a different brother and wrote a short character sketch including three character traits exhibited by that individual.  I used some of their ideas in the description above.

Overall, we enjoyed the book.  I look forward to reading it again some day with Levi.  The Wright Brothers is also a TruthQuest History recommendation.

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