Saturday, June 14, 2014

These Books Are For the Birds - or Birdwatchers

Bird watching has never been my cup of tea, but my husband has been known to run through backyards in our neighborhood trying to get a better view of the pileated woodpecker (which I caught a glimpse of as it was sitting on our window ledge and pecking at our screen, scaring the heck out of me!).  

We have bird feeders, a bird bath, and a variety of other bird-ish items in our backyard. I have noticed that now with our kitchen addition we have a wonderful view of our backyard and the many birds that stop by.  Little Sister is our resident birdwatcher - informing me about various different types of birds.  

There are quite a few bird books out there right now and I have been snatching them up to read at home.

The Long, Long Journey: The Godwit's Amazing Migration by Sandra Markle, illustrated by Mia Posada tells the story of the godwit, who begins her life in Alaska growing up during the summer months so that in the fall she is ready to fly to New Zealand.  As the book highlights, this bird's migration spans 7,000 miles and is the longest non-stop migration ever recorded.  

I enjoyed the accessibility of the text which shares a story that lower elementary students will understand and enjoy.  The godwits' story is an amazing one, and there are additional notes and resources for readers to enjoy.

Look Up: Bird Watching in Your Own Back Yard by Annette LeBlanc Cate 
This book is full of information, but written conversationally, so that once I started reading, I had a hard time stopping.  Cate gives good advice to birdwatchers- or anyone who wants to spend some time outside in nature really looking at what they may have taken for granted right around them.  The speech bubbles add to this non-fiction how-to book, as do the additional facts found at the bottom of various pages.  There is a lot going on in this book, and it might not be a great choice for a young child, but my first grade daughter found plenty to look at and read - and then tell me about.

Pale Male: Citizen Hawk of New York City by Janet Schulman, illustrated by Meilo So

Pale Male will be a book that I plan on sharing with my students in the fall. They love "real stories" as they call them and this is a great story about Pale Male and his struggle to stay in the Big Apple.  Taking up residence in Central Park, Pale Male is enjoyed by the city's birdwatchers. But when he takes up residence on Fifth Avenue, the well-to-do residents, are none too happy to have this new addition.  Pale Male's supporters must fight to keep this animal in their city, and Pale Male becomes a bit of a minor celebrity.  The colorful illustrations that So provides drew me in, and Pale Male's story is one that children will enjoy, as they root for him to keep his home.

Is This Panama? A Migration Story by Jan Thornhill, illustrated by Soyeon Kim

Sammy is a Wilson's warbler who needs to fly to Panama from his home near the Arctic circle.  He can't find any other Wilson's warblers, who have already begun their journey, so Sammy sets off by himself. Along the way he finds many other animals also migrating, but none going to Panama.  Tagged as non-fiction, Is This Panama? is a great read-aloud as Sammy and the various animals have conversations about their migratory journeys there is a lot to be learned.  A question and answer page in the back about migration and a map showing the animals Sammy encountered and his route to Panama help add some detail to this book.

Parrots Over Puerto Rico by Susan Roth and Cindy Trumbore, collages by Susan Roth, winner of the 2014 Sibert Award

These beautiful and colorful collages drew me in immediately.  Roth and Trumbore share the story of the Puerto Rican parrot who lived for centuries on the island. As settlers came and their habitat is destroyed, the number of parrots continued to decline.  At one point, in 1967, there were only twenty-four parrots left.  Attempts were made to help these birds mate and then release them in the wild in order to increase their numbers.  Photographs and a time-line of Puerto Rico's and the parrots' history is included, rounding out this book.  As I read I couldn't help but plan ahead to next year. My first grade classes discuss habitat, and this book will be a great read aloud for this topic, providing plenty to discuss and research.

Bird books abound this year.  These are just some of the titles I have picked up for our night time read alouds.  

The National Geographic Kids Bird Guide of North America isn't exactly read aloud material, but it does provide a wealth of information on birds.  I love pretty much everything that National Geographic publishes for kids, and this book has been added to my own library at home.

Happy bird watching!

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