Courage to Fly

This week I read Troon Harrison’s picture book Courage to Fly to our Reading group. We continue to practice actively using the comprehension strategies we have been taught in Reading Power lessons: making connections, visualizing, asking questions and inferring while we listen to stories. Students loved this beautifully illustrated book (Zhong-Yang Huang is the illustrator) about Meg, an anxious and lonely little girl in a big city in a brand new country.


Meg finds a tiny swallow that was brought down in a snowstorm. She nurses it back to health and then begins to wonder if she should set it free. She is reluctant to do so – but is encouraged to give the bird its chance to fly. Who really finds the courage to fly?  By the end of the book, we were convinced that Meg had been transformed by her experience and that after taking a risk to let the bird go free, could find the courage to open up her heart to new friendships.

Some thoughts from the students:

I think New York is not a great place for Meg (Ricky)

Why is Meg so shy? Is she lonely? Is she scared of the snow? (Truman)

I think the old man is also trying to tell Meg to find courage. (Jena)

I think the message of the book is to let things be free (Jenny)

Meg gets the courage to be free! (Josiah)

Birds and children must have been on my mind this week when I took my children to the public library – I found two more books involving a child and a hurt bird that needed to be cared for. So much learning happens from these experiences. Lovely stories that touch on the themes of hope, courage, relationships, perseverance, transformation, freedom . . .


Martha is Gennady Spirin’s story about his own son Ilya who discovered a crow with a broken wing. The veterinarian insisted the bird should be put to sleep as it would never fly. Ilya convinced his parents otherwise and the crow they named Martha made her home with the family. Eventually Martha surprised them all and flew again. Is she the bird that returns the next year and nests in their tree?

fly pigeon fly

Fly, Pigeon, Fly! is coauthored by John Henderson and Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Thomas Docherty. Set in Glasgow, this is the story of a young boy who discovers a half-starved pigeon in a run down warehouse and takes him home to care for him. The pigeon recovers but the boy cannot bear to set him free. The relationships between the boy and the bird and the boy and his Da are gently explored. In a lovely way, as the boy is able to let the pigeon go, his connection to his Da becomes stronger.

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