10 Ways I’d Love My Books To Be Like Flat Stanley

Flat Stanley at the Beach in Carlsbad

If you’re a North American parent with a child in 3rd grade or beyond, it’s a pretty sure bet you’ve heard of Flat Stanley. Just in case you haven’t, here’s a quick summary:

The Flat Stanley Project

In 1994, Dale Hubert began the Flat Stanley Project in Ontario, Canada. Hubert had the brilliant idea of having children create their own Flat Stanley paper cutouts and mailing them to friends and family around the globe, in order to foster authentic literacy activities for kids and get them excited to write about Stanley’s adventures.

Today, the Flat Stanley Project..encompasses more than 6000 schools registered in 88 countries around the globe, and is included in the curriculum for more than 15% of elementary schools in the US.

I’ve been emissary to at least two Flat Stanleys, helping them to move on to ever-wider circles of adventure.ย The one you see above is my nephew’s Flat Stanley that arrived in the mail from Kansas City, MO.

[Me being me, I immediately photocopied him and laminated him, just in case I lost him.]

Flat Stanley went all through Orange County, down to San Diego and up to ride the Metrolink in Los Angeles. Then one of my friends was kind enough to take him all over Washington D.C. Flat Stanley even met a girlfriend in D.C.

I’ve posted some pics below so you can see some of Stanley’s amazing adventures.

Flat Stanley at the doctor’s office in the O.C.

Flat Stanley with Hoshi, my first “Baby Girl.”

Flat Stanley with Writers In The Storm

I had tons of fun with Stanley and so did all my friends. My flat pal inspired this list:

10 Ways I’d Love My Books To Be Like Flat Stanley

1. Everyone passes them on to a friend.

2. At the end of their journey, I’ll know exactly where they went and what they did.

3. Everyone welcomes them at the table (or in the bath or the backyard, or their boat).

4. People want to be part of their story.

5. My books unite strangers around the world.

6. They can travel in any vehicle and provide people with a good time.

7. People can color them with tons of imagination.

8. They’ll be recognized with a single glance.

9. My books will bring a smile to your face.

10. You’ll remember my book long after you pass it on.

Have you ever met a Flat Stanley? What sorts of adventures did you have together? If you’re a creative person, what experience would you like your creations to give to others? Enquiring minds LOVE to know these things here at More Cowbell!


p.s. DON’T forget to trot over to Natalie Hartford’s place today to see the big Missed Connections reveal from yesterday’s post. She’s giving the scoop on both her postย and mine. ๐Ÿ™‚

By the way, yesterday’s comments were stellar gems of beauty!ย Tons of Cowbell goesย out to Stacy Green, Zack Kullis and Gloria Richard for the most side-splitting contributions. Go look, y’all…you’ll see what I mean.

About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! An extrovert who's terribly fond of silliness. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm (http://writersinthestormblog.com). Write on!
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49 Responses to 10 Ways I’d Love My Books To Be Like Flat Stanley

  1. Flat Stanley came to my book party in February! I was so excited, I posted him on my FB page. Wouldn’t it be cool for your book to have Flat Stanley notoriety? It would be just as good as writing the next Harry Potter, and better than Twilight. ๐Ÿ™‚


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      That Flat Stanley LOVES books. Couldn’t you tell? He had a great time at my critique group as well. Do you have a picture of him in your FB photos? I need to go see!!

      I agree that I’d probably pinch myself daily if I had Flat Stanley’s notoriety. ๐Ÿ™‚


  2. donnagalanti says:

    Super fun Jenny! Love how it’s so true and who knew how our books could be compared to this! We did a Flat Stanley project too. And I am glad, now that we’re in 4th grade, that the Flat Stanley books are no longer of interest. I’m more a Captain Underpants gal ๐Ÿ™‚


  3. I L.O.V.E. the ten reasons you want your book to be like Flat Stanley. With your voice and snark? It’s a given. [So long as you let Sharla amp up those “hot” scenes in your fiction. IYKWIM] Love your pictures! I’d totally whine for a spot in your writer’s group if only I lived close enough. Your WITS article yesterday convinced me that I need to herd together a group of my own.

    I took Flat Stanley to Hawaii. He enjoyed a cup of coffee almost as big as he was on our Lanai, had his own hand-towel beach-party-blanket, and even had his picture taken in one of those postcard photo booths. Aloha! And, whatever the word in Hawaiian is for “Gaaah”.

    Picture this. No. Wait. Don’t picture this. I’m stretching from outside the photo booth curtain so Flat Stanley can have his own head shot on the postcard. Do you know how difficult it was to keep my fingers out of the picture, yet have Flat Stanley properly centered in his postcard pic? Answer: Very.

    The number of tries and dollars fed into the machine kept mounting. As did the number of people who stopped to query whether I was okay. But, getting to address and mail the postcard (Having a great time! Too bad you aren’t here. Nanner, Nanner.) from Hawaii to the third-grader was priceless.


  4. zkullis says:

    I feel like a lonely oustider on this one. Flat Stanley is new to me, but I love the idea. Anything that gets children and youth to expand their horizons, to see and ACCEPT the world for the large and wonderfully different place that it is, that is monumental. Well,at least in my opinion.

    ….. A few experiences that I would like to have my creations/stories give people. Hmmmm. Since I write dark and scary stuff, some of my goals might be a little different.

    1. Readers put them down at night (good bedtime reads) ๐Ÿ˜‰ , but seriously think about leaving a light on before they go to bed. Close the closet door, check under the bed, etc.
    2. People reach their end, finish the story, and see that dawn’s light is more brilliant and meaningful after one has endured the horrors and angst of a dark night.
    3. Their antagonists feel real in a darkly creepy way, causing you to wonder and contemplate the unseen and the unknown.
    4. Their protagonists claim a place in your heart, make you laugh, smile, cringe and weep. You want to hold them, fight for them, and wait anxiously for the next adventure.


  5. I always learn something new at your blog, Jenny ๐Ÿ™‚ I had never heard of Flat Stanley before. What a cool movement. And I loved your list of ten. If only our books were 10% as popular as Stanley.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Fabuloso, Reetta! You can probably do a Flat Stanley unit for your kids at home if your school system doesn’t do it. Just send him to your WANA pals…we’ll show him a GREAT TIME. ๐Ÿ™‚


  6. Gilliad Stern says:

    I had never heard of Flat Stanely, but I love the idea. It can excite the imagination to know that something you made has traveled all over the world and gone through events with others.

    I absolutely love your list of 10 reasons why you want your books to be like Flat Stanley. I could see that list being a lot of our reasons as to why we write.

    I’d love to be able to give Flat Stanley an adventure if I ever came across one. Great post!


  7. I love Flat Stanley and all he represents! I used to teach elementary school so first met FS there and saw the fabulous educational aspects of the program. What better way to encourage kids as learners then to engage them with projects like this. In more recent years, I took my granddaughter’s Flat Stanley with me to visit my sister-in-law who lives in the south of Spain and we had a blast.
    Very clever how you related this to your book! Muy bueno!


  8. amyskennedy says:

    We’ve never been host to Flat Stanley, but we have sent him on adventures…youngest is in 8th grade now, maybe the granddaughter (in 1st grade) will soon be a Flat Stanley ambassador.


  9. LauraDrake says:

    I could not figure out how to connect a cutout to a book (hey, I’m way beyond the kid-stage, what can I say?) So I had to read through, to find out. You’re absolutely right, Jenny! Very astute!


  10. I’ve never met Flat Stanley, but my parents are geocachers and occasionally they run across unique “travel bugs.” The owner of the bug wants them to go to a particular place and come home again or wants pictures of them with something. My cats and my dog have had their pictures taken at various times with different bugs so that my mom can send the pictures to the owner. When we all went to visit my husband in Washington DC before we got married, she also pulled a trave bug out of her purse and had to take a picture of it with a specific monument.


  11. Stacy Green says:

    Flat Stanley is new to me, but I love the idea. Great way to build a love of reading in kids.

    And I LOVE the 10 reasons why you’d like your books to be like Flat Stanley. You’re 10 shades of awesome, as usual:)


  12. Our family has experienced the joy of Flat Stanley, too. ๐Ÿ™‚ My son made one for a project and sent it to his aunt and uncle in NYC. My sister and brother-in-law had the greatest time, bringing Flat Stanley to al the touristy sites, as well as to their jobs, Broadway, and restaurants. We still have the photos. Too funny!

    I like your list. As writers we want our stories to be enjoyed and shared, bringing people together over a common interest. It will happen. Gotta keep creating!


  13. Flat Stanley rocks as do your 10 reasons!
    I haven’t had the honor of hosting a Flat Stanley personally but hubby has before my time and it looks like tons of fun.


  14. My Flat Stanley came from somewhere in Northern Minnesota from the daughter of a cousin I barely know (how’d they even find me?). Never-the-less, I played the game. Flat Stanley didn’t go anywhere except my house, but the things he heard that week would make a sailor blush. Good thing, Flat Stanley is mute. (Let’s just say it’s a good thing I have no children because my potty mouth would land me in jail. Or most likely my kid in jail. Note to self: watch language.)

    Heading over to Natalie’s site now. Wanna know if I guessed right.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Nothing wrong with expanding Manly Stanley’s horizons AND his vocabulary! Its good for him, I say. Makes him feel like he has more ammo in his arsenal than just being flat. ๐Ÿ™‚


  15. Julie Glover says:

    Oh my goodness, I love this! Flat Stanley projects were awesome in my house too. Meanwhile, I just wanted my book to be like Reader’s Digest–placed in bathrooms all across American to entertain while taking care of business. ๐Ÿ˜‰


  16. K.B. Owen says:

    I love Flat Stanley! Only my oldest got the “experience” – but his uncle in FLA cracked us up with tales of Flat Stanley flying out the car window and ending up in Alligator Alley!

    Those are fab goals, Jenny – may they come true!


  17. Sharla Rae says:

    I remember when you brought Flat Stanley to dinner Jen. And last year my grandson sent Flat Stanley to me at MD Anderson and he visited my son during his chemo treatment. ๐Ÿ™‚ That fellow really gets around!


  18. Karen McFarland says:

    Loved that top ten list Jenny. Uh, nope, I’ve never heard of Flat Stanley. I really need to get out more. LOL! ๐Ÿ™‚


  19. Coleen Patrick says:

    I remember reading the book in elementary school. I loved it so much, I remember wanting to be able to mail my myself to visit my favorite cousins. ๐Ÿ™‚ You’re right it would be awesome to have such a cool book concept.


  20. Centuries ago, when my son was little I “met” Flat Stanley for the first time in an article about books for kids. We had to get a copy! Then later I got to host Flat Stanley during his visit to New Orleans. My wish list would include his ability to travel w/o getting strip searched by the TSA! LOL! Wonderful blog post!


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