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 6,000 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. 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 – from L: Jenny, Laura, Sharla, Fae (this was before we had Orly)

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. They 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. They will bring a smile to your face.

10. You’ll remember them long after you pass them on.

Have you ever met a Flat Stanley? What sorts of adventures did you have together? What experience would you like YOUR books to give to others?


*** Need more Jenny? Check out her latest post:
Michael Douglas, By The Tweets! ***

About Jenny Hansen

Jenny fills her nights with humor: writing memoir, women’s fiction, chick lit, short stories (and chasing after the newly walking Baby Girl). By day, she provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. After 15 years as a corporate software trainer, she’s digging this sit down and write thing.

When she’s not at her blog, More Cowbell, Jenny can be found on Twitter at JennyHansenCA and here at Writers In The Storm. She’s also the author of the Risky Baby Business posts at More Cowbell, a series that focuses on babies, new parents and high-risk pregnancy.

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

  1. Joanne says:

    Yes, I have had two flat Stanley’s from my grandchildren. They always want Stanley to go to the beach and a boat ride so we happily agree. One Stanley had his picture taken with our favorite server at our favorite beach restaurant.
    I loved how you want your books to be like Stanley. I wish I could come up with something to add but I think you nailed it. So ditto for me on your list.

  2. Jackie Rod says:

    Thanks for telling me about Flat Stanley–such a fantastic idea. I like the comparison of Flat Stanley and your books.

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Thanks, Jackie! This is such a creative school project and an amazing way for kids to see the world, especially if they’re from a smaller town. I’m totally looking forward to my Babykins being old enough to read about Flat Stanley.

  3. For reasons I do not understand, a friend of mine put me in charge of her grandson’s Flat Stanley when we took a couples trip to Hawaii.

    I spent much of my goof-off time (that is to say, most of my waking hours) dreaming up adventures for Stanley. Buried in the sand with only his head showing was a cool picture. But, the one that stands out for me, is the one that took the longest to pull off. I wanted his picture on one of those corny postcards they offer in photo-booths. I wanted only Flat Stanley in that picture — w/out wonky beach hair me.

    Getting a postcard with most of Flat Stanley (had to position him so the tips of my fingers didn’t show) required multiple shoots. Sadly, it also required various rear-extension-outside-the-curtain positions to hold Stanly in place.

    Love your list of reasons you want your books to have Flat Stanley adventures.

    The one I’d add? When the adventure ends, those who took the ride with Stanly want to do it all over again.

    Or, find another Flat Stanley (book by the same author) to brighten their day, week, month…

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Holy cowbell, Gloria, you are dedicated! I know how you feel about those rear-extension photo positions. (See how I cleaned up that comment because I’m behaving myself at WITS??)

      I can’t wait until you host the Cowbell. You’re gonna be marvy. Your reason #11 rocks! 🙂

  4. Nope, Jenny. This is my introduction to Flat Stanley. I guess he gets around like Carmen Santiago? And where in the world do they go, no one knows. I’d love my books to be like Flat Stanley or Carmen … to travel the world and have adventures and delight perfect strangers. Maybe to inspire creativity in others who are children at heart.

    Yeah, that sounds like a good thing to be … an inspiration. I’d be the forerunner for Flat Granny who loves finding new and wonderful things to do in the autumn of her life … to visit other grannys and cheer them when they feel lost or afraid … and to show the younguns that even a Flat Granny can succeed in a world fraught with paper cutters … thanks 🙂

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      He does indeed get around like Carmen. Perhaps they meet up and dance Flat Rhumbas together?

      I’ll bet you could make a mint with Flat Granny, Florence. Truly. That would be sooo fun.

  5. Interestingly enough, I’ve read a few of the Flat Stanley books with my kiddo and even went to see a musical based on Stanley. But have yet to actually “meet” a Flat Stanley in person. Might have to fix that this summer. You’ve just given me an idea. 🙂

    Great post, Jenny!!

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I can’t wait to hear about your idea, Orly! And trust me, when Baby Girl’s time arrives, I will be sending her Flat Stanley AROUND. 🙂

  6. Despite having 7 children, I only know the name, never actually met Stanley. But I want my books to be like him, yes I do.

    Somehow, I’ve missed this in your bio, Jenny: “provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm”

    I once herded cats into a flaming swimming pool. With my in-depth knowledge of both marketing and accounting, I’ll stick to cat-herding.

    (Note for the squeamish or those with overactive imaginations or gullibility bones: are you kidding? Of COURSE it’s a joke. I love cats. But I can never eat a whole one. No; I mean, they’re affectionate little creatures. I don’t eat them. Not sure where that came from.)

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      My eyes pop wide EVERY time I hear someone say they have more than 4 children, Joel. the logistics and the patience involved in that endeavor are AMAZING. And yes, herding cats is much easier than getting accountants to do social media (or any other creative effort). 🙂

      • We cheated. I had 4, she had 2, and when they were all grown and we got married, we had the 1 who’s with us now.

        Have you noticed that many authors are like accountants with it comes to social media?

  7. Melissa Lewicki says:

    I love this blog. Our Flat Stanley had been all over America and had his picture taken with his “cousins” in many touristy places. He especially enjoyed having his picture taken with a NY city policeman and one of the Knicks girls at Madison Square Garden. Our grandchildren love him.

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Thanks, Melissa! If you have a blog, I think you should definitely do a few segments on Flat Stanley’s adventures. It sounds like you’ve shown him a very good time. 🙂

  8. Sharla Rae says:

    I remember Jen’s Flat Stanley at our WITS dinner. 🙂 I had to laugh because I helped my kids with with their Flat Stanley years ago and then a couple grandkids too! If any of my books are remembered as well as the aventures of Flat Stanley, I’d be honored!

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Just us and Flat Stanley at the Greek place. And I was pregnant at the time. Those were the days…

      p.s. One of has to learn to Photoshop better so we can add Orly into these pics. 🙂

  9. Vicki Batman says:

    Hi, Jenny! We’ve had two flat Stanley’s visit us. They liked traveling with Handsome to exciting destinations like Baton Rouge and Atlanta. lol

    I think this is such a fun and incredible project.

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Go Vicki!! I’ll bet Handsome took the Stanley’s out and showed them a marvy time. 🙂 I agree with you…I think the Flat Stanley project is genius.

  10. Nana Prah says:

    This is so cool. I followed Flat Stanley’s blog during the A to Z blogging challenge.

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      One more reason to love Flat Stanley! I didn’t know he had a blog. That sounds like tons of fun. If you come back, will you leave us the link, Nana?

  11. janieemaus says:

    I’ve never heard of Flat Stanley. But now I know I’ll never forget him.

  12. Sigh. Another reason to visit Amazon. I have five grandchildren and have never heard of Flat Stanley here in Michigan, but we are taking our two oldest grandsons (11 and 13) to England end of this month, and I think we definitely need a Flat Stanley for the benefit of those at home. What we probably need is a Flat Granny (go with it, Florence!), but we’ll take what’s out there

  13. Susan Spann says:

    I’ve never had the honor of hosting a Flat Stanley. I wish I had!! I’ve heard of him, but my son’s class didn’t do Flat Stanleys and apparently neither does anyone else I know. If someone out there needs a place to send a Stanley…I’ll play!!

    Also? I’d dearly love my book to be like Stanley 🙂

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Susan, I’ll remember you said that when my time comes. Don’t think I won’t! LOL…

      And with 15th century ninja grooviness, I’ll bet your book IS like Flat Stanley. 🙂

  14. I’ve hosted several Flat Stanley’s over the years, the most recent from my 6-year-old second cousin from Minnesota. He alternated between my house and my dad’s house so he got to spend a lot of time with extended family.

    I wish my books were like Flat Stanley too. Maybe some day they will be.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  15. denise says:

    I’ve met a few flat stanley’s over the years. took one to harrisburg overnight.

  16. You are the first person who has introduced me to Flat Stanley, believe it or not. Where have I been? Well, my boys went to grade school a little earlier. Maybe that’s why. God, I’m feeling old now. lol. But I must say that I love the concept. And you know that I love doing things for other people. Encouraging others to feel better about themselves is so important to me. Okay, how do I want others to walk away after reading one of my books. Well, this is if I actually finish a book and publish it someday. lol. But… that said, I just want to give someone an opportunity to escape for a while. I think life can be pretty harsh and we all need a little break from our own lives. I want people to feel good after reading my stories. 🙂

  17. C. K. Crouch says:

    I love the idea but honestly never heard of it. I would think with a fifth grader moving to middle school in advanced placement I would have but I never did. I will have to ask her about it but I’m sure she would have told me about Flat Stanley. I was looking at my growing tbr piles on the coffee table and told my niece in law tonight as many books as I have bought lately I could’ve bought a kindle and had them on there. I have the kindle app on my phone and I found I like it for reading to relax and fall asleep.

  18. Theresa Hupp says:

    How funny! I wrote a post recently about Flat Stanley in Kansas City (http://mthupp.wordpress.com/2013/04/22/flat-stanley-visits-kansas-city/), and here you get one from Kansas City! Enjoyed your post.
    Thanks. Theresa Hupp

  19. Love it, Jenny! We took Flat Stanley to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City last year. He had a great time. Love the analogy as well.

  20. I’d never heard of Flat Stanley, but that’s probably because my son is in his early 30’s and my granddaughter is only 3. Great post. I tweeted and reblogged.

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