flat stanley & the president: they go back a long way, you know

A “Flat Stanley” is photographed as the Marine One helicopter, with President Obama aboard, takes off from the White House, Feb. 17

Hartford Courant (October, 2008): ….An envelope addressed to Aron Mondschein, 7, had been delivered to Solomon Schechter Day School … it was from Barack Obama, senator from Illinois and Democratic presidential candidate.

…A little more than a month earlier, teacher Joyce Ben-KiKi had Aron and his classmates each send letters to a famous person as part of a language arts lesson. Ben-KiKi wrapped the exercise around well-known children’s book character “Flat Stanley”…

“I told them not to expect a letter back,” Ben-KiKi said. “I told them these people are very busy and most likely will not write back.”

The list of recipients was impressive: Yankee third basemen Alex Rodriguez; Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Olympic gold medalist Mark Spitz; Republican presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. John McCain.

Obama was the only one to write back…his three-page letter to Aron described Flat Stanley’s visit with him and his staff in Washington, D.C. It chronicled their busy day together, which included coffee with constituents, a Senate committee meeting and a trip to the gym. It also had historical facts about the U.S. Capitol, details of Obama’s job and a confession from Obama.

“Sometimes I get a little nervous before talking in front of a crowd, but Flat Stanley helped me practice the speech,” Obama wrote. “He made me recite it in front of him and then even gave me some advice so the speech would go smoothly. Flat Stanley is really a great coach.”

Online Athens (December 2009): Colham Ferry Elementary School fourth-grader Culley Cook, seen with Principal Jackie Carson, shows off a recently received signed letter from President Obama. The letter was sent as part of a school reading project … Culley decided to correspond with the President … the reply noted that Flat Stanley attended meetings with the President, toured the East Wing and met first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha. The President’s letter encouraged Culley to continue reading and learning new things.

First Coast News (November 2008): ….Samantha Lyman and Melba Joslin’s Kindergarten class at S.P. Livingston Elementary School mailed out 30 Flat Stanleys to people around the world. The day before the election, they received one reply: from Barack Obama.

….The presidential hopeful returned the Flat Stanley they sent him. Drawn on the back of the paper: a picture of the senator himself; a drawing Lyman speculates might have been done by one of Obama’s young daughters.

Also included, a signed letter to the children, detailing Flat Stanley’s visit to Chicago, his adventures on the campaign trail, and time spent reading and coloring with Sasha and Malia Obama.

…”I’m going to frame it and leave it here in the classroom. It really is a piece of history. Even if he doesn’t become president, it’s still a big deal,” Lyman said.

The class also mailed a Flat Stanley to Senator John McCain, and they’re hoping to receive a reply.

BBC (December, 2010): When eight-year-old Robert was told to write to someone in another country as part of a school project he chose American President Barack Obama. So imagine how amazed he was when the President wrote back!

Robert sent President Obama a paper cut-out of a character in a book he was reading called Flat Stanley. The President wrote back to say that he had received the cut-out and that Flat Stanley had “worked hard, listened carefully and had a lot of fun”!

The President said: “Thank you for sending Flat Stanley to the White House. I am pleased to report that he worked hard, listened carefully, and had a lot of fun. Flat Stanley was engaging, interested and showed up at the White House each morning with a pencil in hand, ready to learn. It was a pleasure having him here.”

Everyone at Robert’s school in Renfrewshire, Scotland, was really impressed. Some of his mates have even started calling him Obama now.


There are dozens of similar stories – I’m guessing the White House mail room is packed with Flat Stanleys. Only 326 of them are mine 😳

10 Responses to “flat stanley & the president: they go back a long way, you know”

  1. 1 VC prezOfan2
    February 17, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    I flat out love this man! 🙂 🙂 He shows he cares even when he knows they can’t vote for him. I feel sure these responses will create a lasting impression in the minds of the recipients, and I hope they’ll have a more positive view of politics/politicians. It would be neat to live long enough to hear one of them say s/he decided to become a politician because of THIS President. Barack Obama – changing our world in small steps!

  2. February 17, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    Next year, I bet the president will be INUNDATED with Flat Stanleys, in the hope of getting a personal letter from their hero! I wonder if I should send one? After all, I’m getting perilously near my second childhood, so I wouldn’t be cheating (too much)!

    And he’s my hero, too.

    • 3 Sue in Minnesota
      February 17, 2011 at 6:53 pm

      Go for it girl!

      Maybe a flat Stanley Ann…..since our President is a champion of women and their causes, and in honor of another, very special Stanley Ann.

    • 5 Audrey
      February 17, 2011 at 9:52 pm

      LOL Joan!
      Isn’t our President awesome! We have the privilege of been led by a rare gem of a man! Try as they may, they cannot take away the goodness, grace and brilliance of this exceptional President that shines so brightly. Generations will speak of and honor President Obama! Goodness, grace and briLliance!

  3. 6 louc1
    February 17, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    Flat Stanley is a wonderful book and one that children certainly enjoy. I can imagine that it might be one of the boooks the President has read to Malia and Sasha – so it probably is special to him as well. For him to take time out of his busy schedule to write these children back tells a lot about his character He is the real deal and I love him dearly!
    Obamabot forever!

  4. 8 majii
    February 17, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    Wow! Senator Obama was the only one to respond to the students who sent the Flat Stanleys in 2008! As a retired teacher, I give him an A +. I’m impressed that as busy as he was/is, he took/takes the time to let these kids know that he thinks education is important! Little things like these go a long way in inspiring kids to stay in school. This man has his priorities in order!!! He even wrote back to Robert in the U.K.!!! Wow!!

  5. February 17, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    this absolutely rocks. I love stories like this.

  6. 10 Titti
    February 18, 2011 at 7:25 am

    Stories like this make me love him all the more and teary for some reason. The kindness of strangers always gets to me.

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