A reader with two girls 6 and 11 years old emailed me quite some time ago (I've been working on this post since June) asking for bird book suggestions. I've procrastinated by reading quite a few bird books from the library.
Your recommendations would be most welcome.
I know there are many books that I am probably missing.
I wrote a post some time ago that includes many bird books for preschoolers. Check out that post for preschool bird book suggestions. I'm now reading those books to Silas. Below are books more suited for early elementary.
Bird, Butterfly, Eel, a beautifully illustrated story of a bird, butterfly and an eel's return to a Massachusetts farm, introduces the reader to animal migration, nesting, and preparing for the eventual autumn journey . The illustrations and simple text tells the story of each creatures migration and life cycle. Cate liked the two page map that shows how far each creature traveled. The swallow travels 8000 miles to Argentina which is much farther away than I imagined.
If you liked the Caldecott Honor winning A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams illustrated by Melissa Sweet you will enjoy her illustrations in The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon. The story is a very brief biographical sketch of the time Audubon began "banding" birds. It is amazing to realize not so long ago bird migration was not quite understood. For a more complete picture book biography I recommend Into the Woods: John James Audubon Lives His Dream.
Recently we read Bird Boy, an early chapter book set in China on the Li River near the Guilin mountains. This story about a mute boy who lives with his mother and father on a fishing boat introduces the reader to the use of cormorants among fishermen in China. We learned quite a bit from this delightful book which includes illustrations. You can also see cormorants in Daisy Comes Home illustrated by Jan Brett and also set in China.
Many of you will know An Egg is Quiet but if not the illustrations present drawings of different eggs and bits of information. This isn't a book to read aloud but one to leave in your child's room for her to discover.
Flute's Journey follows a wood thrush from the nest through the migration to Costa Rica and back to a small patch of land in Maryland. The thrush encounters difficulties due to the destruction of its habitat. There is so much you can do with this book. Most importantly it teaches children that we are impacting the birds' environment.
The illustrations in The Cuckoo's Haiku are amazing which makes the haiku seem almost secondary. I would check this book just to read and use as a beautiful identification book.
The three books pictured above are perfect for the a little older reader. Bird Watching with Margaret Morse Nice (see all Naturalist's Apprentice Biographies) is a historical biography about a woman at the turn of the 20th century devoted to ornithology and includes lovely illustrations, information about bird watching, selecting binoculars, hunting for bird nests, learning to listen to bird song and bird gardens.
Little Leap Forward is another book set in China except at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution. Although not a bird story, the main character Little Leap Forward has a pet bird who acts as a metaphor for the pain and confusion surrounding the unset of the Cultural Revolution. Beautifully illustrated, well written and published by Barefoot Books.
My husband read Eudora Welty's The Shoe Bird to Cate. He didn't enjoy the book or the more difficult writing style of Welty but Cate certainly enjoyed it and talked endlessly about the birds she met in the story. Also, Cate listened to this musical fable based on The Shoe Bird and narrated by Jim Dale. Again, she enjoyed it but I didn't listen to it. Oh, just now reading the reviews on Amazon made me reorder it from the library. We will try and listen to it in the car.
I read 100 Birds and How They Got Their Names a few years ago along with the companion 100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names. I think this would make a nice read aloud. Each bird has a short 2-3 page chapter. For the child who wants to dig deeper into learning about birds, I highly recommend this one.
And finally, Riki's Birdhouse. I adore this book and have read it to Silas several time in the last few weeks. He loves it now but it is a book you can grow with because of all the details in the margins. Like Zinnia's Flower Garden also by Monica Wellington, you encounter the topic in each season of the year. If your child likes birdies, this is not to be missed.
Well, that's all for now. I'm finding it more and more difficult to write about books. Other bloggers are so good at writing succinct meaningful reviews. What I offer is only my heartfelt recommendation of the books we have enjoyed.