The best read aloud bird books for kids

Who am I?

I may not be an expert ornithologist, but I am an avid “birdologist” to borrow a term from Sy Montgomery—one who is awed and fascinated by all things bird. Bird-watching is meditative—it helps me to be present and to feel joyful. I love reading, learning, and writing about birds too! I am the author of these bird books: Hawk Rising, illustrated by Brian Floca, Whoo-Ku Haiku, illustrated by Jonathan Voss, and the forthcoming You and the Bowerbird, illustrated by Maris Wicks. I love writing about the natural world and its inhabitants as well as dogs—another love of mine!

I wrote...

Whoo-Ku Haiku: A Great Horned Owl Story

By Maria Gianferrari, Jonathan Voss (illustrator),

Book cover of Whoo-Ku Haiku: A Great Horned Owl Story

What is my book about?

In stunning haiku and dazzling illustration, this thrilling nonfiction picture book showcases the fierce majesty of one of North America's most beloved birds, the great horned owl. Watch as a pair of great horned owlets hatch—Pip. Pip. Pip. Poking. A hole, cracking. Cracking. Crack! Pink owlet pecks out.

Mama and Papa Owl hunt for food and fend off predators while the owlets grow strong enough to hop and branch, flap and fledge, ready to explore the wild world around them.

The books I picked & why

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How to Find a Bird

By Jennifer Ward, Diana Sudyka (illustrator),

Book cover of How to Find a Bird

Why this book?

Both Jennifer Ward and Diana Sudyka are two of my favorite kid lit creators, and this brilliant collaboration begs to be read aloud. Ward’s lyrical text sings as an introductory guide for the littlest bird watchers, showing them where to look for birds: up to see them fly and roost—but not just up—down on the ground where birds nest, straight ahead where they blend with bark, on and under the water. And if you put out a birdfeeder, all you need is a window-view. But what’s the best way to find a bird? To listen—birdsong is all around us! Sudyka’s gorgeously intricate art paints the avian details of all the found birds. Don’t miss the back matter for bird-watching tips.

The Nest That Wren Built

By Randi Sonenshine, Anne Hunter (illustrator),

Book cover of The Nest That Wren Built

Why this book?

Using a familiar cumulative format, Sonenshine makes it shine and makes it her own using pleasing poetic language to tell a story about a nesting pair of Carolina wrens. This rhythmic read-aloud is jaunty and joyful and scientifically accurate; we watch the wren pair build a nest, lay their eggs on a velvet bed of moss, and observe as chicks grow from hatchlings to nestlings to fledglings, flying off on their own. Hunter’s earth-toned art complements the coziness of the text. The book wraps up with wren facts and a glossary of bird-related terms.

You Nest Here with Me

By Jane Yolen, Heidi E. Y. Stemple, Melissa Sweet (illustrator)

Book cover of You Nest Here with Me

Why this book?

Yolen and Stemple are a mother-daughter dream team duo and creators of many bird books including Yolen’s classic, Owl Moon. This birdy-lullaby has a soothing read-aloud rhythm as a mother tucks her tired nestling-child in bed. She recounts the places where various birds nest, from pigeons on ledges and catbirds in hedges, to owls in oak tree boles and hawks on telephone poles bound by the reassuring refrain, "You nest here with me.” Sweet’s blue-green color palette offers a calming and soporific counterpart and a nod to night-time. Learn more about the featured birds, their diet and nesting habits, and this birding family in the book’s back pages.

Mel Fell

By Corey R. Tabor,

Book cover of Mel Fell

Why this book?

You’ll fall along with the main character, Mel, a kingfisher, in this clever vertical read beginning right from the title page. The vertical format humorously highlights the action of Mel “falling,” faster and faster, as squirrels and bees, ants and the eight hands of spiders try to come to her rescue until—SPLASH! See what happens when you rotate the book. Did Mel really fall? Tabor’s art is delightful and amusing.

Vulture View

By April Pulley Sayre, Steve Jenkins (illustrator),

Book cover of Vulture View

Why this book?

In mostly rhyming couplets, Sayre’s book celebrates the lowly turkey vulture, an unsung and underappreciated creature that plays a very vital role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem—scavengers are nature’s clean-up crew! View vultures as they circle, soar, and glide on thermals, up, UP! Watch them sniff, search, seek and eat things that reek, the more rotten the better. Vultures feast, then clean and preen. At night, they roost and rest in trees like families. Jenkins’ cut paper collages complete this homage to the venerable turkey vulture. Explore more turkey vulture facts in the concluding pages.

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