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Bird Appreciation Books 101 for Children—Starters

By Lance Hickerson, Reference Assistant

My fourth grade elementary school teacher was an avid bird watcher, even when she was teaching class. We might be in the middle of multiplication tables, when a rare bird at the class feeder would turn our attention from the wall-to-wall chalk board to the windows behind us. I had no idea at the time how I was being taught a love of nature in general and of birds in particular. Bird watching has been a highly rewarding hobby ever since.   Since it is only natural to want to pass on a love of nature and birds to the next generation, I am always on the lookout for books in the library that might instill, and maybe even ignite, aviary wonder.

Among the many good books out there, here are a few I came across.

I.   Starting for K-2nd grade:

  1. Feathers For Lunch

Feathers for Lunchby Lois Ehlert (Harcourt, Inc.: 1990, 36 pages)

Storyline: A housecat escapes to the outdoors and encounters twelve species of birds, but is unable to catch even one. Along the way the cat and the reader learn something about each bird, from its appearance to song.

Sideline: The birds are shown by effective cut-paper illustrations. Along with the birds are cut-paper plants common to the bird’s environment.  So a plant book as well as an animal book.

Bonus: Several back pages contain more information on each cut-paper bird

  1. BirdsongsBirdsongs 2

by Betsy Franco and Steve Jenkins {illustrator} (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2007, 40 pages) Caldecott Honor Medalist

Storyline: The book begins early one morning and goes through to the end of the day identifying some 11 birds and their sounds. The illustrations sport a dimensional appearance due to being refined cut paper designs.

Sideline: There is a counting theme throughout as the birds call out their songs a given number of times. In addition to bird sounds, children can practice counting.

Bonus: The last few pages tell interesting “feathery facts” about the birds.

  1. Aviary Wonders Inc.: Spring Catalogue and Instruction Manual

Aviary Wondersby Kate Samworth {author and illustrator} (Clarion Books: 2014, 32 pages)

Storyline: This wonderfully illustrated book is an imaginary and futuristic catalogue that permits readers to design their own birds. There is more to the bird than most imagine as choices include types of beaks, tails, legs, wings, flight patterns, and colors.

Sideline: The reader learns about various extinct birds in our history. There is an environmental, conservationist theme throughout.

Bonus: By involving the imagination in applying bird anatomy, the reader becomes aware of many various markers that are important for understanding and identifying birds.

  1. Birds: A Guide to Familiar American Birds  A Golden Guide - Birds

by Herbert Zim and Ira Gabrielson {illustrated by James Gordon Irving} (Golden Press: 1987, 160 pages)

Storyline: No story but rather a straightforward and simple guide to 129 birds commonly seen in America. Each bird has its own page and is illustrated by colorful and accurate drawings. The simplicity of this now classic book makes it a wonderful beginner’s guide. It is important to supplement the many photo books available today with artful drawings like here, for the drawings can emphasize significant markings of the bird that photos often do not. For instance, because I had seen the Wood Thrush painting in this book, I was able to recognize a real Wood Thrush in nature several years later.

  1. The New Birder’s Guide to Birds of North America: Peterson Field Guides

A New Birder's Guideby Bill Thompson III {illustrations by Julie Zickefoose and Michael Digiorgio} (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014, 368 pages)

Storyline: No story but a wonderful new beginner’s bird guide to common birds in America. Carefully selected photos and drawings help in positive identification. There is just enough information to make it interesting and useful. It’s the best new beginning bird book to bring into the field with children. It might well become a classic in its own right.

Bonus: Wow Facts are given for each bird disclosing interesting and significant information

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What to Read after “The Fault in Our Stars”

By Howard Shirley, Teen Library Assistant

Did the release of The Fault in Our Stars get you craving more quirky teenage love stories?

Here are five more titles you might enjoy…

Eleaneleanor and parkor & Park by Rainbow Rowell [YA F ROWELL]

This 2013 release beautifully tells the story of two high school misfits who develop a surprising mutual affection during their bus rides to and from school in 1980’s-era Omaha. Though the description may sound trite, Rowell’s writing elevates a familiar story to must-read status.

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson [YA F MAT]amy and roger's epic detour

Matson’s debut novel, Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour is an ode to traveling and new experiences—a love story just happens to pop up along the way. Like in The Fault in Our Stars, dealing with mortality is a theme of this book, though less directly. It’s an entertaining read that will make you appreciate little bits of Americana along the characters’ road trip.

Dash & Ldash and lily's book of daresily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan [YA F COH]

The same duo who paired up for Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist team up again in this fun back-and-forth story of two bibliophiles who exchange thoughts via a notebook in a bookstore. Of course, the suspense and excitement leading up to their potential real-life meeting is the central purpose of the book, but these two authors know how to keep the pages turning throughout.

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler [YA F ASH]the future of us

A teenage romance with a slight sci-fi bent, The Future of Us tells the story of two teens in the nineties who happen to discover their future Facebook accounts when they access the internet for the first time. The future they discover on Facebook is not the one they envision for themselves, which leads to an interesting pursuit of how to reconcile the past, present, and future.

Stargirl stargirlby Jerry Spinelli [YA F SPI]

Stargirl is aimed at a slightly younger set, but it remains an elegant story of the ups and downs of high school popularity and teenage love. Spinelli draws you in and doesn’t let you go as he writes about two very different people who are nonetheless drawn to one another. It’s a quick-read, but it’s worth checking out for the quintessential quirky character, Stargirl herself.

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