The best books for children about birds

Why am I passionate about this?

My father was a life-long falconer. When I was a child, spending time with my father meant spending time with a menagerie of winged friends like goshawks, peregrine falcons, parrots, owls, and even vultures. I didn’t know it back then, but as I went hawking with my dad and helped him care for his beautiful birds, I was gathering a nest of passion and ideas for the writer and poet I would become. Today, I enjoy sharing my love of birds, nature, and books with children (and children at heart).


I wrote...

The Hawk of the Castle: A Story of Medieval Falconry

By Danna Smith, Bagram Ibatoulline (illustrator),

Book cover of The Hawk of the Castle: A Story of Medieval Falconry

What is my book about?

Gentle verse and sweeping, majestic artwork set imaginations soaring in a handsome and illuminating ode to the ancient art of falconry.

Join a young girl and her father, the falconer at a medieval castle, as they experience the joys of taking a goshawk out for a training flight. The girl leads readers through all the preparations and equipment needed for the flight — from the hawk’s hood and bells to the falconer’s gloves — culminating in a dramatic demonstration of the hawk’s hunting skill. Bagram Ibatoulline’s masterful illustrations capture the vivid details and beauty of a day spent hawking, while Danna Smith’s poetic storytelling will make readers long to experience the art and sport of falconry firsthand.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Beak Book

Danna Smith Why did I love this book?

When is a beak not just a beak? When it's a filter, a drill, or an air conditioner, of course! Each beautifully illustrated page focuses on one bird and the wonderful (and sometimes strange) things it can do with its beak. Kids will love learning about the tools birds come equipped with, and perhaps most importantly, the one they use for breaking out of their eggs!

By Robin Page,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Beak Book as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

From Caldecott Honor illustrator Robin Page comes this striking nonfiction STEM picture book exploring the fascinating and surprising ways different kinds of birds use their unique beaks.

Birds around the world have so many amazing kinds of beaks! There are short beaks and long beaks, straight beaks and curved beaks, flat beaks and even spoon-shaped beaks. But what do all of these beaks do?

Discover how beaks of different shapes and sizes are adapted to help birds sip nectar, make nests, battle for mates, and more!


Book cover of Crane & Crane

Danna Smith Why did I love this book?

This brief, clever picture book really packs a punch! Readers follow two families building a house for their expected little ones. Each action is presented with one simple word. The human uses a construction crane to GRAB lumber, while on the opposite page, a Sandhill Crane uses its beak to GRAB a stick for the nest. They GLIDE, STACK, PICK, SWAY, and HONK their way through the warm watercolor illustrations until they settle on one word to summarize their accomplishment…HOME.

By Linda Joy Singleton, Richard Smythe (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Crane & Crane as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A sandhill crane lifts a stick. A construction crane lifts a log. The two cranes grab, stretch, and stack, working through bad weather and difficult obstacles toward their end goal: building a home for a new family. Told in a simple sequence of verbs, this colorful picture book demonstrates how the mechanical world mirrors the natural world.


Book cover of Backpack Explorer: Bird Watch: What Will You Find?

Danna Smith Why did I love this book?

Oh, how I wish I had this book when I was a child! Each brightly illustrated page is rich with close-up photos of various birds to look for, field guides, and tips to follow. It’s jam-packed with every activity bird-loving littles could hope for—games, crafts, a birding log for sightings, sticker badges, and a real magnifying glass! Bird Watch is an excellent book for school field trips, family nature adventures, and the perfect gift for young explorers.

By Editors of Storey Publishing, Oana Befort (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Backpack Explorer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The third book in the Backpack Explorer series from the Editors of Storey Publishing invites budding naturalists to head outside for a walk - in the woods, a park, or right in their backyard - to spot feathered friends. Backpack Explorer: Bird Watch leads kids aged 4 and up through the basics of birding, from identifying common birds to learning about habitat and migration and listening for bird songs. The pages are packed with prompts and activities, including 12 interactive field guides (for common birds, nests, eggs, tracks, and more), sensory scavenger hunts, activities such as building a bird nest,…


Book cover of Snow Birds

Danna Smith Why did I love this book?

I adore books that introduce a subject through the magic of poetry. Rhyme, rhythm, meter, and brevity are all appealing factors that keep a young audience engaged. In Snow Birds, the author and illustrator take us on a snowy poetic journey through mountains, forests, and backyards to give us a glimpse of the birds that don’t migrate but stay and brave the harsh climate of wintertime. This book fits the bill for all bird-loving, word-loving kids and adults alike.

By Kirsten Hall, Jenni Desmond (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Snow Birds as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Discover birds who survive winter against all odds in this poetic, gorgeously illustrated picture book

Snowflakes whirling, snow-flocks swirling, streaks of white twirl through the night . . .
You've heard of birds who migrate to warmer climates in the wintertime-but what about those who persevere through snowy weather and freezing temperatures? With elegant verse and striking illustrations, Snow Birds salutes the brave and resourceful birds who adapt to survive the coldest months.


Book cover of Hello, World! Birds

Danna Smith Why did I love this book?

It's never too early to introduce children to the world of birds! This colorful board book with simple information about our feathered friends is a perfect choice. "Peck Peck Peck, the noisy woodpecker is looking for food inside a tree trunk."—curious babies and toddlers will learn animal names, behaviors, and habitats in this sturdy take-along book that is just the right size for little hands!

By Jill McDonald,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hello, World! Birds as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?



Young children love watching birds. Now here’s a Hello, World! board book that teaches toddlers all about our feathered friends—with colors, shapes, sizes, and super-simple facts. 

Hello, World! is a series designed to introduce first nonfiction concepts to babies and toddlers. Told in clear and easy terms (“Peck, peck, peck! This noisy woodpecker is looking for food inside a tree trunk”) and featuring bright, cheerful illustrations, Hello, World! makes learning fun for young children. And each sturdy page offers helpful prompts for engaging with your child. It’s a perfect way to bring science and nature into the busy world of…


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Book cover of This Animal Body

Meredith Walters

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What is my book about?

Neuroscience PhD student Frankie Conner has finally gotten her life together—she’s determined to discover the cause of her depression and find a cure for herself and everyone like her. But the first day of her program, she meets a group of talking animals who have an urgent message they refuse to share. And while the animals may not have Frankie’s exalted human brain, they know things she doesn’t, like what happened before she was adopted.

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By Meredith Walters,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked This Animal Body as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Frankie Conner, first-year graduate student at UC Berkeley, is finally getting her life together. After multiple failures and several false starts, she's found her calling: become a neuroscientist, discover the cause of her depression and anxiety, and hopefully find a cure for herself and everyone like her.

But her first day of the program, Frankie meets a mysterious group of talking animals who claim to have an urgent message for her. The problem is, they're not willing to share it. Not yet. Not until she's ready.

While Frankie's new friends may not have her highly evolved, state-of-the-art, exalted human brain,…


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