Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Boy Who Would Be a Helicopter” as Want to Read:
The Boy Who Would Be a Helicopter
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Boy Who Would Be a Helicopter

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  307 ratings  ·  30 reviews
How does a teacher begin to appreciate and tap the rich creative resources of the fantasy world of children? What social functions do story playing and storytelling serve in the preschool classroom? And how can the child who is trapped in private fantasies be brought into the richly imaginative social play that surrounds him?

The Boy Who Would Be a Helicopter focuses on the
Paperback, 176 pages
Published September 1st 1991 by Harvard University Press (first published 1990)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Boy Who Would Be a Helicopter, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Boy Who Would Be a Helicopter

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  307 ratings  ·  30 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Boy Who Would Be a Helicopter
University of Chicago Magazine
Vivian Gussin Paley, PhB47

Read the adaptation published in our JanFeb/12 issue:

How does a teacher begin to appreciate and tap the rich creative resources of the fantasy world of children? What social functions do story playing and storytelling serve in the preschool classroom? And how can the child who is trapped in private fantasies be brought into the richly imaginative social play that surrounds him?

The Boy Who Would Be a Helicopter focuses on the
Jan 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is the teacher I've been looking for: full of doubt and humility before the thing that is the Classroom, a teacher who listens (with a tape recorder, yow) and understands the weight her questions have in steering activity and talk, and the awesome leaps of poetry and profundity that are presented in the children's play.

It would be so easy to sentimentalize this -- to turn it into a "kids say the darndest things" -- but that's the farthest from what happens.

The questions and conversations in
Nurlan Imangaliyev
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
I read the Russian translation, didn't feel like a good book at all. Especially the way it ends (or rather doesn't).
Dec 31, 2016 rated it it was ok
I really enjoyed reading all of the stories about Jason and the other children. However, I really took issue with Paley as a teacher. I give her props for writing so publicly about her mistakes, but her judgments about Jason and the way she sometimes handled situations with children or her co-workers was aggravating.

How could she think that Jason was not part of the classroom community just because he chose to be a helicopter and play by himself a lot? Why did she talk so rudely to her
Jan 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books of all time. A great model of what preschool should be, written by a master teacher (and a great writer!).
Apr 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a must read for anyone who works with children; especially children that learn or socialize in a different way.
Dec 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
Vivian Paley is a teacher who really, deeply listens to what her pre-school students have to say in their stories, fantasies and questions. I found myself continually surprised at her thoughtful reflection on how little moments of play and unassuming conversations between the children shine such a bright light onto their personalities, desires and fears.

Some open questions / reflections:
- What is the role of a preschool teacher (or anyone who interacts with a very young child) in separating
Alexandra Konopleva
Купила книгу, послушав восторженные отзывы знакомых - на полку в детском центре или в подарок коллеге. Предварительно, конечно, очень хотела прочитать сама - и несколько разочаровалась. Мне книга показалась плохо структурированной; описания детских игр разбавлены редкими комментариями автора и её коллег.
Бесспорно, очень много интересных мыслей, но всё слишком вперемешку: нельзя назвать исследованием и нельзя назвать художественной литературой.
Можно прочитать для определённого вдохновения и
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: story, teachers
This is a great book for teachers to read. It talks about the importance of story telling and play. It is good for teachers because then they can see another perspective. This can be used in the classroom (in this case older students, like college students) by having them create a presentation on what they got out of the story.
Lauren Murphy
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Vivan Paley tells many different stories in this book about the importance of play and storytelling. IT focuses on Jason's story and his interaction with his toy helicopter. This book is a great book for teachers and students who want to become teachers to read. This book allows people to think about new things when developing their classroom.
A master teacher who pays attention to what her young charges say. Their statements help her comprehend the way they are understanding the world which helps guide her questions. Children need to discover and explore in order to make sense of their environment.
Feb 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Read for Theatre For Young People, Queen Mary University of London, 2020.
Feb 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: parenting
A deep dive into teacher Vivian Paley's method of fantasy play by preschool children that she stumbled into by accident but was theorized about long ago by Soviet psychologist Vygotsky. She has what appears to be an impressive corpus of actual fantasy play conversations which she has woven together to form a cohesive story, narrated by her thoughts and reflections.

I especially love Paley's meta reflections on her past and how, as a new teacher, she once was Jason, the loner child who does not
Erik Akre
Mar 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those interested in the topic of creative play
Shelves: education
I read this book while teaching Montessori preschool, and it could not have been more timely. The book is amazing for its compelling vision of the child (all the more because of its contrast to Montessori's own vision).

Paley's child is the myth-maker, the story-teller and story-actor. The child's primary activity is play. Montessori's child is the "man-maker," he who works to perfect himself through meaningful work and become the self-actualized adult. Both teachers see the child as occupying
Moses Hetfield
Oct 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: educators, literary theorists, anyone who works with children, psych/english/complit majors
Recommended to Moses by: My child development teacher
An excellent book, and a really quick read. Paley, a preschool teacher whose curriculum focuses on storytelling, discusses the case of a boy in her class who doesn't quite fit in and how he ends up becoming part of the classroom community. In the process, she reveals important wisdom about the nature of play as both literature and therapy for children. I was fascinated to learn about the way a literary culture of sorts develops in the preschool classroom, with certain archetypes and repeated ...more
Paley's account of The Boy Who Would Be A Helicopter has stuck with me because it upsets the apple cart of special needs labeling in the very best way. A poetic glimpse at how symbolic imagery and language are used to achieve expression, connection and self-understanding by the unlikeliest child in her classroom. Through Paley's eyes, a boy who would be a helicopter is a metaphor for the confused and veiled attempts to cope through self-narration done by the rest of us.
Jan 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This was my favorite of Vivian Paley's books. She describes in more detail exactly what she thinks about and how she uses stories and acting with preschool. Her insights into children's behavior and motivation are so interesting to me. I agree with so much of her thinking about listening to kids and figuring out why they do what they do.
Mark Kammel
May 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
read excerpts only: pg 1-26 151-163

Quite good at bringing your knowledge of story-telling to a child-like level, and not in a bad way. Paley does not try to dissect every single bit of what children say in their storytelling, but simply presents it in a way so that one can gain insight in to how important telling stories really is to her students.

Lori Yvette Fernandez Lopez
Oct 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: unowned
It was interesting, but I had a hard time reading the stories of young children because I get lost in their dialect. She made some create points about the learning in small child-centered communities.
Jeremy Hornik
Dec 18, 2013 rated it liked it
In this one, the slow path of a boy from playing only his own game, by himself, to how he gradually lets his classmates stories into his story. I recommend this book for parents of young children, although anyone interested in play would enjoy it.
Mar 20, 2010 marked it as to-read
Recommended to Rebecca by: Nancy Kangas
Recommended by Nancy K.
Nov 20, 2015 added it
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
My personal favorite of all Paley stories...
Sep 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mommy-s-shelf
I remember loving this book when it was assigned to me in college. I plan to read it again.
Feb 17, 2013 added it
Interesting insight at times - I'm still not sure how I feel about the book as a whole. I need to re-read this.
Lu Benke
Jul 28, 2012 rated it liked it
I liked it much better the second time around. Still kept wishing I could have seen the whole classroom myself without her interpretation. Did like the way she resisted labels.
Aleksa Mervil
Mar 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a great book for teachers who work with young children. It teaches how important it is to allow students to use their imagination and explains the benefits of child play.
Feb 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
It's a good look into how children develop problem solving skills through fantasy play in the classroom. Recommended read for any one that is studying child psychology.
Mar 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
My students (UNC preservice teachers) really enjoyed this one too.
Alicia Healey
rated it liked it
Nov 25, 2013
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction
  • 82년생 김지영
  • Modern Love: True Stories of Love, Loss, and Redemption
  • שלום לקנאים
  • Shakespeare Our Contemporary
  • The Great Fire of London
  • The Name Jar
  • Profes rebeldes: El reto de educar a partir de la realidad de los jóvenes
  • The Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea
  • Under Deadman's Skin: Discovering the Meaning of Children's Violent Play
  • El túnel
  • The Kalahari Typing School for Men
  • A Simple Christmas (Simple Gifts #3)
  • The Arts and the Creation of Mind
  • Race
  • On Palestine
  • In the Unlikely Event
  • Bee & Me
See similar books…
Vivian Gussin Paley is an American pre-school and kindergarten teacher, early childhood education researcher, and author.

She taught and did most of her research at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools and was the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship. Despite her status in the field today, she has described the first thirteen years of her teaching career as being an "uninspired and

News & Interviews

Some people love books. Some people fall in love. And some people fall in love with books about falling in love. Every month our team sorts thro...
17 likes · 6 comments
“Pretend" often confuses the adult, but it is the child's real and serious world, the stage upon which any identity is possible and secret thoughts can be safely revealed.” 5 likes
More quotes…