Juliette Green explores a range of books about birds for children.
Spot 50 Garden Birds Camilla de la Bedoyere
I use these ‘Spot 50’ books all the time when working out-side with children (other titles include wildflowers, trees and insects). They are easy to navi-gate as a simple field guide, and contain just the right level and amount of information about each species.
Each species has its own page, with a large labelled picture and a fact file (scientific name, size, call, breeding information etc.). The 50 birds are organ-ised by family (flycatchers, wagtails and waxwings; thrushes; finches; martins, swallows and swifts; woodpeckers; raptors etc.), with each family having a different-coloured page background. The conte-nts page doubles up as a checklist to tick off the species that are seen.
Spot 50 Garden Birds. Camilla de la Bedoyere (2014). Miles Kelly Publishing. Paperback, pp56. ISBN 978-1-84810-610-7. RRP £6.99.
RSPB Children’s Guide to Bird Watching David Chandler & Mike Unwin
Aimed at 8-12 year olds, this is a well-organised book that offers a ‘head start’ to anyone interested in finding out more about birds.
The first half of the book gives essential information and useful tips to young birders, including how to rec-ognise different bird species (looking at size, shape, colour, behaviour, calls etc.); the kit that’s needed; information about birdwatching in diff-erent habitats; and ways in which young people can get involved in conservation. There’s a handy section entitled ‘The Birder’s Year’, which includes suggestions for bird-related activities that can be done during the three main school holidays (Christmas, Easter and summer).
The second half of the book is a field guide to help identify most of the bird species that can be seen in the UK and Ireland. Each bird has half a page devoted to it, which includes pictures and notes about identification, behaviour, voice, where to see and any confusion species.
The back of the book has a detailed glossary, index of bird species and a checklist to complete. This book would be the perfect present for any young person who wants to get into birdwatching, and would also be a very useful reference guide for a classroom or school birdwatching club.
RSPB Children’s Guide to Bird Watching. David Chandler & Mike Unwin (2005). A&C Black. Paperback, pp128. ISBN 978-0-7136-8795-8. RRP £6.99.
My First Book of Garden Birds Mike Unwin & Sarah Whittley
My favourite book to use with children! The colourful illustrations appeal to young child-ren, but there is suffic-ient information about each of the 20 featured bird species to engage older ones as well. Each bird has a ‘Guess Who’ page, which gives clues to help identify the species—for example: ‘This bird likes being around gardeners. It perches on spades and snaps up insects from the ground.’ Then when you turn over, you find out what bird it was and can read more information about it. Great fun, and informative too!
My First Book of Garden Birds (RSPB). Mike Unwin & Sarah Whittley, illustrated by Rachel Lockwood (2006). A&C Black. Hardback, pp48. ISBN 0-7136-7678-7. RRP £6.99.
Spike’s Best Nest Tony Maddox
This is a brilliant big book to read to children outside. A lucky charity shop find has become a book that I’ve used in various places for many different themes. These have included reading it in a reception classroom followed by independent work making nest collages for Spike to sit in; and as part of a birds event in a woodland where children had a go at constructing their own nests. As well as showing children about birds’ nests, the book also portrays other animals, their habits and habitats (e.g. the rabbit family live in an underground burrow, which Spike finds scary, and the owl sings at night, waking Spike up!); and allows discussion of the concept that ‘there’s no place like home’ (i.e. Spike tries various places in which to sleep, but finds that the most comfortable place is his own nest).
Spike’s Best Nest. Tony Maddox (2003). Myriad Books Limited. Paperback (big book), pp30. ISBN 1-904154-73-5. RRP £14.99. [Also available as a small book]