The most important bird books may not be the latest and greatest field guides, or the bird-finding guide to that birding mecca you’ve always wanted to visit. It may very well be books for kids. They can be instrumental in imparting a life-long love for the natural world. They were for me.
A fellow Georgia birder, Dan Vickers, has graciously allowed me to reprint his recommendations for bird books for children from an article he wrote for the Georgia Ornithological Society. Here are his suggestions, along with some of my own:
Children Ages 2-5
1990, 32 pages, Color
This is one of the all-time favorite children’s books. All poor Owl wants to do is sleep, but he keeps being awakened by the other noisy occupants of the forest.
Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson
2002, 32 pages, Color
Wonderful illustrations showcase this story of three owlets awaiting their mother’s return from her night’s hunt.
Make Way for Ducklings
1941, 68 pages, Color
This classic story of a mother’s devotion has fascinated children for generations. McCloskey received the Caldecott award for his illustrations.
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!
2003, 40 pages, Color
Kids love this wonderful tale of a pigeon trying to convince a busload of people (and the reader) to let him drive the bus after the driver steps off for a break.
Children Ages 4-8
The Burgess Bird Book for Children
Thornton W Burgess
2003, 272 pages, Black and White
A creative story about the feathered friends such as Jenny Wren, Redwing the Blackbird, Melody the Wood Thrush, Spooky the Screech Owl, Creaker the Purple Grackle, and Downy the Woodpecker.
Song for the Whooping Crane
Eileen Spinelli and Elsa Warnick
2000, 48 pages, Color
Visually and poetically captivating, this ode to the most celebrated endangered species of our time will stir an environmental awareness in any child.
Birds, Nests, & Eggs
1998, 48 pages, Color
ID tips on 15 birds and the homes they build. This book contains a series of activities, 7 pages for notes or scrapbooking, and numerous safety tips.
2004, 32 pages, Color
Easy-to-read with plenty of detailed descriptions of the owls and how they live, eat, and hunt.
About Birds: A Guide for Children
1997, 40 pages, Color
Various North American species are illustrated in this beginner’s guide to birds. Lots of basic information is followed by an afterward which lists more detailed life histories.
Backyard Birds (Peterson Field Guides for Young Naturalists)
Jonathan Latimer, Karen Stray Nolting, and Roger Tory Peterson
1999, 48 pages, Color
A first field guide for your young birder, it describes 20 common birds as only a Peterson Field Guide could.
Beginning Birdwatcher’s Book: With 48 Stickers
2000, 32 pages, Color
Kids can record sightings of 48 common North American birds, with sticker images, and notes on location, date and any remarks.
Bird Log: A Kids Journal to Record Their Birding Experiences
1998, 80 pages
This is a log book for children to record their sightings. It provides observation questions to help fill in the information.
Children Ages 9+
The Young Birder’s Guide to Birds of Eastern North America (Peterson Field Guides)
Bill Thompson, III and illustrated by Julie Zickfoose
2008, 256 pages, Color, Paperback
This new Peterson Field Guide, written just for kids, gives detailed descriptions and vivid illustrations of 200 birds in Eastern North America.
The Last Egret (The Adventures of Charlie Pierce)
Harvey E. Oyer III
2010, 168 pages, some black-and-white drawings
A wonderful adventure story in which Charlie Pierce learns the value of birds and nature. This is a great introduction to the idea of conservation. (Full Review)
For the Birds: The Life of Roger Tory Peterson
Peggy Thomas (Author) and Laura Jacques (Illustrator)
2011, 43 pages, color paintings, hardcover
This book is worth it just for the gorgeous illustrations. But it also tells the story of Roger Tory Peterson’s life (he of the field-guide fame), while encouraging children to pay attention to nature and the birds around them. That makes this a great book for kids ages eight and up.
Posted by Grant McCreary on December 2nd, 2008.