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Books that Soar
We moved into a new (to us) home last summer that has a back yard that is pretty dense with trees. Our favorite tree is a towering sycamore that must be at least 70 years old. It’s cool because we’re smack in the middle of suburbia but the back yard feels forestlike and secluded. One of the major benefits of all this foliage is getting to see a million (slight exaggeration) different species of birds every time we look out the window. We’ve seen roadrunners, blue jays, cardinals, sparrows, grackles, scissor tails, mourning doves, robins, and mockingbirds in our back yard this spring. We even have an especially chatty mockingbird that likes to serenade us at two in the morning…every.single.morning. It’s great. Really.
I describe myself unofficially as a bird nut. I’m no ornithologist or even bird aficionado by any stretch, but I do love and admire the little creatures. Over the years I’ve rescued and/or rehabbed a baby wood duck, a one-legged barn swallow, and a sparrow (which got snatched out the air by a hawk on the day it learned to fly…true story). I can’t quite explain why it is my heart is so connected to birds. It’s almost magical. Perhaps it’s because they are rarely in a hurry. Birds take time to sing, sleep, hop, skip, dig in the dirt, and splash in puddles. I hope you’ll be able to take some time very soon to do the same with the children in your life. Until next time, keep reading together!
The Robot and the Bluebird by David Lucas
A beautiful and touching tale about a robot that is cast aside because his heart no long functions. When he meets a floundering bluebird in the midst of a snowstorm, he finds the will to tarry on and fill up that aching, empty spot in his chest. I absolutely adore this book for its charming illustrations and priceless text.
Peep and Egg: I’m Not Hatching by Laura Gehl (illustrated by Joyce Wan)
Egg only has one job: to hatch. Unfortunately, Egg just doesn’t feel like it. It’s too dark. It’s too noisy. It’s too wet. After many attempts to coax Egg out of his shell, best friend Peep finally relents and lets him do his own thing. Find out what happens next in super silly Peep and Egg: I’m Not Hatching.
Hank Finds an Egg by Rebecca Dudley
A wordless picture book that is imaginatively and painstakingly illustrated. The final result is a nature-filled nugget of a story that shows exactly what happens when a complete stranger toils to do the right thing for someone else’s benefit.
Room for Bear by Ciara Gavin
Poor Bear. He has found his place in the world (in the Duck family’s house), but unfortunately his prodigious girth prevents him from fitting through the door. Bear and the Ducks begin their real estate journey looking for something that suits everyone but ultimately come up empty. Is it time for Bear and the Ducks to go their separate ways or will the right home present itself so the friends can stay together?
Little Bird’s Bad Word by Jacob Grant
I tried not to laugh at Little Bird’s Bad Word without much success. In case you’re wondering, Little Bird’s swear word is “Blark!” (he overhears Papa Bird after an earthworm escapes his grasp) so this book isn’t going to teach any child to swear in the real world. On the contrary, I’ve included it because I think it could be useful if you know a young child that has begun dabbling in the expletive arts. Its message (without being heavy-handed) is that sometimes what we say can hurt, so we should select our words very carefully.
Elwood Bigfoot: Birdie Friends by Jill Esbaum (illustrated by Nate Wragg)
Making friends is a rough business, especially when the only prospects are skittish little creatures that you tend to frighten just by breathing. In this story, Elwood Bigfoot tries many things to befriend the birds, but it’s only when he stops trying so hard that he begins to make some progress. There’s not one bit of this book that isn’t fun. Except the part where Elwood faceplants into the cold, hard earth after his attempt at flight. Otherwise, it’s a hoot!
Froodle! by Antoinette Portis
Froodle! is one of my all-time favorites. Caw! Coo! Chip! Peep! Is all the birds ever say. One day Little Brown Bird decides to sing a new song. No one is pleased at first (she may as well have said Blark!) but before long everyone is joining in the silly fun. Everyone, that is, except Crow. Will the friends be able to convince Crow that sometimes it’s okay to act a little cuckoo?
You Nest Here with Me by Jane Yolen
You Nest Here with Me is totally aww-inspiring. It’s a perfect bedtime story for your little one that accurately depicts many different birds’ nesting behaviors whilst intertwining gentle reminders that the little girl in the story will nest right in her own snuggly home with her adult caregiver. So till you’re big as big can be…You’ll nest right here in our house with me.
Bluebird by Bob Staake
Bluebird is a really beautiful wordless picture book. No doubt. It’s also a bit perplexing in parts and isn’t a story I would recommend for 3-5 year olds. It touches on bullying, sadness, friendship, loss, grief, sorrow, regret, and death and is honestly a bit heavy, bordering on depressing, depending on how you interpret the ending. So why am I including it? I love stories that are open for interpretation. They are not appropriate for very young readers that tend to think more concretely. But for older readers (think 3rd grade and above) who are starting to think abstractly, this type of book offers something far better than a simple “The End”. It offers the opportunity to discuss what has happened and what it means to them. Staake had this to say about the ending: "There are many ways to interpret the ending of the book and that is completely intentional. It was always important to me to allow every reader of Bluebird to decide on his or her own what is really happening on those emotional final pages.” Please read this book before sharing it to make sure it’s appropriate for your audience.
Bird in an Airplane Suit by Caspar Babypants (from the album Rise and Shine available via Freegal)
Simply put, kindie king Caspar Babypants has written the best children’s music since Raffi:
Look up! You can sometimes see a bird in an airplane suit.
You make think it’s just a plane full of people, luggage, and drinks.
You may think it’s far away but look again ‘cause it has a beak.
The album also contains "Early Bird", "Silly Bird", and "Girl With a Squirrel in Her Hat". Bonus!