books for young birders

Did you know that Everett once passed an entire spring and summer hiking the Appalachian trail, from Georgia to Maine? Nature has been his passion from childhood, with bird watching being of particular interest from the time he was able to use his Dad’s binoculars. Do you have a young birder in your family? Here is a selection of picture books for little ones, and chapter books for family read alouds, that will be sure to excite any young birder!


Toddlers and preschoolers

Reading tips:

Employ expression in your voice as much as possible. Even children who are not yet speaking in sentences are listening attentively to the sounds of language. A picture book naturally lends itself to a leisurely read, with plenty of time allowed to savor the illustrations. No need to rush this literary bonding experience!

About Birds: A Guide for Children by Cathryn and John Sill

This is a simple and informative introduction to some common feathered friends, combining interesting facts with colorful, realistic illustrations. Young children love to be read to and this book invites independent exploration as a follow-up due to its small size and easy handling.

Two Blue Jays by Anne Rockwell and Megan Halsey

A popular North American bird, the blue jay is attractive to young and old alike due to its distinctive plumage. In this book, factual information is revealed through a common childhood experience; the readers get to watch other children watching birds! Knowing that both toddlers and preschoolers learn so much from observing other children, we are confident that this simple story will become one of your child’s favorites.

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

This one is especially appealing in the late fall, as winter approaches. This beautiful story of a parent and child bird watching experience is an acknowledged gem, having won the Caldecott Medal for its illustrations. After thirty years in print, a second generation of children is now falling in love with Jane Yolen’s classic.

Mama Built a Little Nest by Jennifer Ward and Steve Jenkins

Explore the idea of each bird species building a nest that suits individual needs. This book is written in rhyme and should be entertaining to young ears. The facts offered are clear and simple, with explanatory paragraphs included which you could ideally share with your child after the first few readings.

Aged six and over

Reading tips:

Choose your material wisely, based on the child’s developmental stage. This is a great time for exploring role models, and so biographies can be extremely popular at this age. A six year old is also experiencing the onset of the capacity to reason, ask questions and understand relationships between facts. Discover and learn together!

The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon by Jacqueline Davies

Impressionable young readers will be drawn to the role of fate in this story, in which a young man who is sent to the US to study business becomes fascinated by a pair of pewee flycatchers…..and the rest is history. In fact, fiction and nonfiction are somewhat blended in the book, but not to the detriment of the overall effect. This story can appeal to young artists, young scientists, young ornithologists or, of course, every child who harbors a passion for learning, and for leaving a legacy for others.

Backyard Birds (Peterson Field Guides for Young Naturalists) by Jonathan Latimer, Karen Stray Nolting and Roger Tory Peterson

Every young birder seeks to acquire the tools that will enhance a birding experience. Binoculars and a good field guide will be a wonderful choice for birthday or commemorative celebrations at this age. Peterson guides have an established reputation as a comprehensive introduction to bird behavior and habitat as well as basic biology. This one is sized perfectly for taking out on the trail.

The Trumpet of The Swan by E.B. White

This popular work of fiction appeals to any nature lover, and would be a lovely book to explore as a springtime read aloud due to its themes of nature’s timeless appeal and the enduring love of family. A personal favorite from my days in the classroom, this story has the ability to stir emotions like few others. Yes, of course swans can’t really learn to play the trumpet…..but our imagination becomes drawn into the world of Louis and his father. And if there was ever a character in a children’s book that reminds me of Everett and his dedicated love of the natural environment, then it must surely be Sam Beaver.