10 Fabulous Picture Books about Birds to Read-aloud



This past year we have spent a lot of time learning about animals through picture books. Most young kids are fascinated by animals, and learning about animals (and observing them in person) is a wonderful way to help kids to care about and fall in love with the natural world.

Birds are so fun to learn about because they are everywhere. Whether you live in the city, country, or suburbia, you will usually have opportunities to observe birds right where you live. When we began studying birds together this year through read-alouds, I was amazed by the number of wonderful picture books we found just browsing the shelves of the library. We read one or more picture birds about birds for nearly a month this year. These ten were our very favorites. I have listed them in order from least text (youngest listeners) to most text (for multiple read-aloud sessions and/or older kids). My kids are 6, 8, and 10, and these ten titles were big hits with all three!


Every Day Birds
Sparse poetic text with simple eye-catching cut paper illustrations.

Birds
A perfect combination of words and texts from the point of view of a girl watching birds out her window. I adore this book, which includes the wonderful line: "If birds made marks with their tail feathers when they flew, think what the sky would look like."


A Bird Is a Bird
A fabulous book for introducing the idea of what makes a bird a bird. Explores how birds are similar to and different from each other as well as what they have in common with other animals.

Vulture View
This book features rhyming verse by April Pulley Sayre and collage illustrations by Steve Jenkins (one of our favorite authors and illustrators of picture books about animals). This book is short enough to share with littles but full of facts about birds, plus additional notes in the back! Perfect for reading with a spread of ages. Also check out Woodpecker Wham! by the same duo.


On Duck Pond
This beautifully written and wonderfully illustrated book describes a boy's observations as he walks around an old pond in a quiet New England town. This book is part of a children's picture book series written for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and the back of the book includes information from the Cornell Lab about the pond habitat and the numerous animals that appear in the story.

Feathers: Not Just for Flying
My kids and I learned so much about feathers from this book! On each page or spread, a feather is compared to something else (sponge, umbrella, backhoe) that illustrates how a specific type of feather helps its owner survive. Clever and informative with lovely illustrations.


Pale Male: Citizen Hawk of New York City
A fabulous story for lovers of birds, animals, and underdogs. This is the captivating true story of how a red-tailed hawk captured the attention of New Yorkers and triumphed over attempts by building owners to remove their nests. Also a terrific story to show the power of people uniting in protest to protect wildlife. A longer, one-sitting read-aloud.

Beauty and the Beak
Another heart-warming tale of humans helping wildlife. This book is about Beauty, the wild bald eagle that made world news when she was illegally shot, rescued, and received a prosthetic beak. This story could be read in one longer sitting, or broken up into two or three readings. Lots of additional information in the back about bald eagles follows the story.



Thunder Birds
Jim Arnosky is another favorite author and illustrator of picture books about animals. The giant fold-out pages are captivating! We read the text and examined the detailed paintings a couple of spreads per day for about a week. There is quite a bit of text per page, but as long as I kept it to a few pages, even my six-year-old stayed interested because of the stunning illustrations and interesting details. I love how Jim Arnosky weaves into the text personal information about his own experiences and feelings observing and interacting with wildlife.

Owls! Strange and Wonderful
Well-written, comprehensive, and wonderfully illustrated. We read this longer picture book over two or three days. An older elementary student could also read this book by herself. We have enjoyed many other books about animals in the Strange and Wonderful series by Laurence Pringle and Meryl Henderson including Bats and Octopuses. I also highly recommend the book Owls by Gail Gibbons, which is shorter and easy to read in one sitting with littles. Gail Gibbons is another favorite author/ illustrator about animals.


Other great reads (to read aloud or read alone)


National Wildlife Federation's World of Birds: A Beginner's Guide
I love the layout, illustration style, and fascinating snippets of information about over 100 different species of birds in this book. For many weeks, my daughter and I read a spread each night from this book at bedtime. Wonderful as a reference guide or to just browse.

About Birds: A Guide for Children / Sobre los pájaros: Una guía para niños
Each spread of this picture book pairs simple text presenting key scientific concepts on the left with a beautiful full page "plate" (illustration) on the right. At the end of the book, additional information about each plate is provided. I read the entire book with my kids, and then let each one choose one or two plates to read about in the back. Also check out About Raptors, About Penguins, and About Parrots. I love the entire "About..." series by the Sills. Several in the series are available in a bilingual version (and as audiobooks!).

Mama Built a Little Nest
A delightful exploration of the variety of nests birds build in all kinds of places. Collage illustrations by Steve Jenkins.

Hatch!
A fun book that invites kids to guess what kind of bird is inside an egg before providing detailed information about the bird. Each page has a lot of information. We read this one over several days.

Nest
Gorgeous illustrations paired with one word per spread follow a baby robin through the seasons. This book pairs wonderfully with A Nest Full of Eggs, which describes a robin's life cycle beginning with an egg and ending with mating and caring for eggs and chicks of its own.

Look Up!
A light-hearted cartoon-style guide to bird watching in your own backyard. This was a fun one for my older kids to look at on their own.

Jabber the Steller's Jay
A wonderfully illustrated book that takes readers through the first year of life of a Steller Jay living in the ponderosa pine forest of the southwestern United States. Introduces numerous other animals (predators, competitors, prey) that live in the same habitat. Although a little longer, we read this one in a single sitting.

Amazing Animals: Woodpeckers
This is one in a new series (called Amazing Animals) that pairs beautiful over-sized high resolution photos with informative text. See also Hummingbirds.

Books we use as reference guides


Other fun stuff to get your kids excited about birds


For additional book recommendations, check out my other blog Book Love Family (devoted mostly to children's books) and my instagram account @booklovefamily.

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