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donnaodonnellfigurski.com - JOHN GLENN
by Thomas Streissguth
Bridgestone Books an imprint of Capstone Press
Ages 5 to 9

Have you ever wanted to be a hero? Ever thought you might grow up to do something you were really passionate about? I think we all hope to make our mark on the world. With me . . . it’s teaching and writing. John Glenn pursued his passion and made history. In 1962 he became the first person to orbit the earth. Thirty-six years later, Glenn again put his stamp on history when he became the oldest person to travel in space. Author, Thomas Streissguth takes us on a historical timeline of John Glenn’s life in his new book, entitled most aptly, JOHN GLENN. Streissguth, very succinctly outlines Glenn’s life from birth to current time. He shows how Glenn’s love of fast cars and airplanes led him to become a fighter pilot, and then a test pilot for the United States government. John liked to break speed records, so it was only natural that when NASA began their new space program in 1958, John Glenn applied and was accepted. This led to his becoming one of the first U.S. astronauts. Since childhood Glenn dreamed of flying. His hero was Charles Lindbergh. By pursuing his passion, John Glenn exceeded his dream. What child doesn’t wonder what is beyond our seeable sky? Dreams! The universe is filled with dreams. John Glenn’s life inspires children to be brave, to believe in themselves, to take chances, and to follow their dreams.

This review can also be seen on: SmartWriters
FROM the MOUTHS of KIDDLE CRITers: a critique group

“John Glenn loved fast cars,” said Tina.

“Yeah, he liked fast stuff,” said Juan.

“Maybe because he liked fast cars he wanted to try something else . . . something faster,” Tina said and continued, “Then he thought of an astronaut and a spaceship because a spaceship is fast also.”

“Maybe he would like a spaceship even better than a racecar,” said Juan, “And he could still put on a suit like a racecar driver.”

Lily laughed. “I went inside a spaceship once,” she said. “It’s smaller than a living room.”

“The windows were real tiny and the showers were really small, too,” said Cara.

“I never realized it, but the part where the astronauts live comes off when they come back to Earth,” said Lily.

“I was amazed that John Glenn was the first one to orbit the earth,” said Juan.

“I think he was brave,” said Lily.

Cara nodded. “When you are alone you have to be REALLY brave,” she said.

“Well, I think John Glenn was the bravest, so he got to go first,” said Lily.

“That would make him famous,” said Tina, “And he probably liked being famous so everyone would like him.”

Juan scratched his head. “I wonder what it would be like to be famous,” he said. “I don't think I ever will be. I don't really have a talent.

“ YES, you do,” insisted Tina.

Juan thought for moment. “I do a lot of things, but I don't really do just one thing.” He paused. “I do like to read about famous people like Benjamin Franklin and I have a talent for the pictures I draw. I have a talent for science, too,” he said. He took a breath. “I made my own mini rocket. John Glenn wouldn't fit in my rocket, though. It was actually just a little canister. I put some seltzer in it and some water and closed the top. It went so high it touched the ceiling. “

“See!” said Tina. “ I told you you had a talent.” Then she giggled.

“Well,” said Lily, changing the subject. “John Glenn was determined to be an American hero. He really worked hard. I’m working really hard, too . . . to get into Harvard. You have to be real smart and study hard.”

“Yeah,” said Tina. “It’s kind of like a dream. I think John Glenn dreamed about traveling to space. I’m dreaming too. I want to be a singing waitress in New York.”


Each one of us is making history – in our own way. Our history begins the day we are born. Using Streissguth’s timeline of John Glenn’s life as an example, have children make their own timelines.
Encourage the children to talk with their parents to delve into their histories to ferret out those very special times in their lives.

Make construction paper booklets. Each page will have a separate date and incident.

1996 Donna was born. (Oh Happy Day!)
1997 Donna’s 1st birthday. (Rabbit-face birthday cake. (Oops . . . Eat it! Don’t wear it!)
1998 Donna’s finally potty trained. (How embarrassing!)
1999 Donna’s sister was born. (Do I have to share?)
2000 Donna rides her tyke bike. (Look, Ma, no hands! CRASH!)
2001 Donna has a new pet duck, Herbie. (Quack!)
2002 Donna is in Mrs. Figurski’s 1st grade class. (Lucky girl! Best 1st grade in the world!)
2003 Donna got sick on the tilt-a-whirl. (Enough said!)

Depending on the age and abilities of the children, you can choose one of the following.

For new readers/writers
The children dictate a short phrase, which you write in their booklet with the date of the incident. Then they illustrate.

For more accomplished readers/writers
The children write a short phrase on rough draft paper, which you edit. Then they write the “corrected” phrase and the date of the incident in their booklet. Then they illustrate.

This project may take several weeks depending on how you incorporate it into your schedule.

Have children reflect on their current interests to help them predict what they might be when they grow up. Will they become a hero, like John Glenn? Will they spend their lives following a passion as he did? Will they become an astronaut, a midwife, a marine biologist, a teacher, a racecar driver . . . the choices are endless, but remember; as with John Glenn, the sky is NOT the limit.

If you like JOHN GLENN or books about astronauts or space, you may also like the following books:

STARGAZERS by Gail Gibbons
WHICH WAY TO THE MILKY WAY by Sidney Rosen, illustrated by Dean Lindberg
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All contents copyright (c) 2002. Donna O'Donnell Figurski.
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Clip Art courtesy of GraphicGarden.com

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