Using Picture Books with Middle School Students: “How to Heal a Broken Wing” by Bob Graham

“In troubled times, when many of us are losing contact with the natural world, I wanted to show that there is  still hope in a coming generation of children who have curiosity and empathy with the world around them, and that care and attention can sometimes fix broken wings” (Bob Graham)

The premise of this picture book appears simple: a young boy is the only person among a busy crowd who cares that a bird has fallen with a broken wing.  Along with his parents, he takes the bird home to nurse it back to health and eventually returns it to its home.   Even though it may seem straight forward, “How to Heal a Broken Wing” is actually a very powerful story that can be used with children of all age levels (my 3 year old son loves this book!), but it is excellent to use with middle school/intermediate students.

I particularly love this picture book for a variety of reasons:

  • the page layout changes often (from full pages illustrations to a comic layout with 8 illustrations per page) so this adds visual interest and at times it feels like more of a graphic novel than a picture book
  • look carefully (and critically) at the illustrations…the box the bird is placed in carefully is lined with a newspaper with a giant tank on the front page and the family gently tends to the injured bird while the TV shows fighter jets flying over a city…very powerful images right there
  • the passage of time is shown through a calendar and the phases of the moon…it takes time to heal the broken bird and it does not happen quickly or overnight
  • it takes several attempts before the bird regains strength and shows healing
  • the bird is returned to his “home” in order to be set free…the family does not impede on the bird’s freedom
  • there really isn’t a lot of text, but the message is so clear, poignant and powerful that it actually makes it more meaningful because it is such a simple message
  • I love how the loose feather is a constant image throughout the book

I’ve included a one page question sheet the can be used with older students, but I plan to create more worksheets to go along with this excellent resource.  Just click on the image below!

Disclosure: This post contains an Amazon Associate link

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