Animals in Literature

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How to Heal a Broken Wing

In a city full of busy people, a young boy notices an injured bird on the ground. With the help of his family, he gently wraps the hurt bird in a blanket and takes it home to heal. This uplifting story highlights the power of empathy and compassion.

Why use this book?

  • Demonstrates how acts of kindness and compassion (no matter how small) make a difference and have a huge impact on others.

Animal Welfare Concerns:

  • Caring for an injured wild animal is not the same as having a companion animal. While the family’s intention for healing the bird on their own was fine, in reality they should have taken the bird to their local wildlife agency as they have the experience and knowledge of how to properly handle the situation and ensure the best outcome for the bird.
  • Handling injured wildlife should always be done with the appropriate precautions. While it may seem like you are doing the right thing, you could potentially cause more harm to the animal and potentially put yourself at risk. For guidance, contact your local wildlife agency if come across an injured animal.

Ask students:

  • Why do you think that no one noticed the bird laying on the pavement (except for Will)?
  • How do you think the bird might have felt after it couldn’t fly after injuring itself?
  • If you came across an injured bird, what would you do? (Tell an adult! Adults can call a local Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre or a veterinarian for advice on how to properly handle the situation).
  • How did the simple act of compassion from Will and his family impact the bird?
  • How do you think Will felt after the bird was successfully released?
  • Flip through the pages of the book again, this time pay attention to the colours the artist uses. The pages start with grey, then colour is slowly introduced. Why do you think the artist decided to do that?

Post Reading Activities

  • Story Vine
    • A story vine is a story visually displayed through representations on a braided vine or rope, held in the hand of a storyteller, and used to tell a story or event. Representations may include objects, drawings, or any other visual portrayal that strikes the imagination. A series of ‘prompts’ or ‘representations’ are placed along the vine and used as a set of reminders for the storyteller to tell the story sequentially, using the main characters, the main events, and the setting. The prompts or representations help the storyteller to dramatize, as well as to remember the story. The prompts also support the audience’s visual representation of the story. (Description from Marlene McKay (2008) in Story Vines and Readers Theatre: Getting Started.)
      • Have students collect or draw images from the story that would help them retell How to Heal a Broken Wing. Students can then attach the images to the vine (rope) in the order the symbols appear in the story. Then a ‘story re-teller’ can use the symbols on the vine to retell the story in their own words.
    • Caption This
      • Scan or take photos of important pages from the book, then add speech and/or thought bubbles to the characters (Will, the bird, Will’s family, by-passers, etc) and print or share digital versions for students to show what they would be thinking in that situation. Students could use this activity to create their own Readers’ Theatre.


  • For additional information on what to do if you see an injured bird (or other wildlife) visit WildNorth.
  • For additional information on how to collect an injured bird visit Safe Wings Ottawa.


Thank you to Amie Gartner who assisted with the development of activities when she was a University of Alberta Education student.

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