Every year Mr. Bender carefully selects a text for each month of the school year. These texts are always connected by a particular theme which changes from year to year. This year’s is a really powerful theme, but we aren’t going to tell you what it is just yet.
At the end of each month, we will share the Book of the Month with you in the hopes you will discuss it further with your children. And while you’re at it, see if you can figure out Mr. Bender’s theme!
September’s Text of the Month was, How to Heal a Broken Wing, by Bob Graham. The story takes place in a busy city where no one sees a bird lying on the pavement with a broken wing. “No one but a small boy called Will. He and his mom carry it home and, with time, rest, and a little bit of hope, the wing mends and the bird is free once more to soar over the city. The language is deceptively simple; however, this story is enhanced through illustrations that are laden with symbolism, adding a strong visual literacy component.” Listen to the story below!
Here are some resources for you to use at home:
Resources for Pre-k – 2nd grade:
- What kind of person is Will? You can look at his actions in the book to come up with an idea and support your thinking.
- Everyone in the city, except Will, walked right by the pigeon with a broken wing. Why didn’t they stop and help?
- How do you think Will feels when he releases the bird? Why do you think that?
- What do you think the author, Bob Graham, was trying to teach you?
- Could Will have saved the bird alone? Why not? What help does Will get that in turn allows him to help the bird?
- Have you ever help an animal or person in need?
- Does Will remind you of anyone you know?
- What are some small things we could do to be kinder to the people and animals around us?
- Really young students could retell you the story. Make sure they include the beginning, middle, and the end.
Art: Make a Soda Bottle Bird Feeder
Nature: Learn more about pigeons here!
Resources for Grades 3-5 (these resources come from Walker Books Classroom Ideas):
- Empathy: Look at the main characters in this story: The pigeon, Will, The mother, and The father. Talk about how you would tell the story from the different perspective of each of these characters.
- Author’s Craft: Bob Graham uses images and text to tell his story. Does the story change if: You only read or listen to the text? You only view the pictures? How do the text and the pictures help to tell the story together?
- Theme: Different ideas and themes are contrasted in this book. Explore the following idea: Apathy vs Empathy. Find the definition of these words. Which characters are apathetic? Which characters are empathetic? How has Bob Graham shown the apathetic characters? What do you feel empathy for in your own life?
- Art: How is color used in this book to convey: – Mood – Setting – Character – Time • Look at different types of colors. How is colour used to convey meaning? Find a color ad in a magazine or newspaper. Discuss how colour is used. Re-create the ad using a different color scheme.
- This book is a sequence of events. Bob Graham uses several symbols to convey time. What are these? How do we know how much time has passed? What other symbols of time could have been used?
- Look for symbols throughout the book that may convey messages of war. Falling Bird: What do you think the bird represents? Why? Why has Bob Graham chosen a pigeon to convey this message? Compare the first drawing of the bird with the last. The feather: What do you think this represents?
- View the page that depicts the bird being placed in a box lined with newspaper. What does the newspaper show? View the page with the image of the television. What does the screen show? What do these images tell you about the outside world?
6. Social Justice: Pigeons are often seen as nuisances or pests. How are pigeons viewed by society? Explore the idea of ‘social outcasts’.
Bob Graham on writing How to Heal a Broken Wing: “I have long wanted to write a story about a pigeon, a story that connects with the times we live in where we seem to be losing touch with the natural world.
I wanted to write a story of hope, putting empathy in the hands of a child – because children are our future and our hope for a more caring world to come. When all of the world’s horror and inhumanity appear daily on the televisions in our living rooms, I wanted to show a human counterbalance to these things enacted in ordinary, everyday and seemingly insignificant events.
In doing this, I tried to tell the story using a minimum of words and to let the pictures do the talking.
A very strange thing happened as I was drawing the final picture of the small boy jumping in the air to catch floating feathers. The telephone rang, and as I answered it I watched what appeared to be a fine ash floating down outside my window. As I finished my conversation it dawned on me that it was not ash but very small downy feathers, floating down from a clear blue sky. I picked up six or so and stuck them in my notebook to remind myself I had not imagined it, before finishing the book soon after.