About This List
*List Updated March 22, 2020
Below I provided separate lists for fiction and nonfiction books about birds for children. Within each of those lists I also created sub-categories and a few favorites based on age level of the child. Nonfiction books are divided up by learning category (e.g. nests & eggs).
There is no book on this list I (and my kids) don’t enjoy. At the end of the post I did list out a few bird books that are out there which I do not care for, and why.
Bird Narratives for Children
|Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
A beautiful and simple tale of a young girl who goes “owling” with her father one night in winter. Owl stories always seem to contain a bit of magic and this one does not disappoint. Owl Moon is easily one of my favorite children’s books, not just favorite bird book.
|Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
Follow Mr. and Mrs. Mallard as they figure out how best to care for their 8 ducklings in the bustling city of Boston. A fun tale containing the best kind of human-animal friendships. The simple line illustrations are perfection.
|Rechenka’s Eggs by Patricia Polacco
A charming story about Babushka, who wants to enter an egg-decorating contest (in traditional Ukrainian style), and an injured goose she cares for named Rechenka, who plays her own part in the contest.
|Henny Penny by Paul Galdone
A classic tale about some gullible bird friends (Henny Penny, Cocky Locky, Ducky Lucky, Goosey Loosey, and Turkey Lurky) that get outsmarted by a Fox. Paul Galdone is a favorite for these types of classic tales — see also The Little Red Hen.
|On Bird Hill by Jane Yolen
The author of Owl Moon wrote On Bird Hill, On Duck Pond, and On Gull Beach for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Each of these three books does a wonderful job exploring birds in their natural habitats through a child’s viewpoint.
|On Duck Pond by Jane Yolen|
|On Gull Beach by Jane Yolen|
|Bird Watch by Christie Matheson
A playful book that introduces a variety of birds and includes counting along with a look-and-find element that is perfect for young preschoolers!
|Just Ducks! by Nicola Davies
Nicola Davies has a talent for combining narrative with facts & information. Kids can follow this sweet story of a girl who keeps track of her neighborhood ducks but also learn about Mallards along the way.
|There’s a Bird on Your Head! by Mo Willems
You might be surprised I’m including and Elephant & Piggie book in my list, but I love how simple and funny this is and it still manages to introduce even the youngest readers to the lifecycle of birds (though, it happens MUCH quicker in this book, obviously).
|Have You Heard the Nesting Bird? by Rita Gray
A lyrical story follows children as they listen to the calls of a variety of birds they encounter.
|Bird Count by Susan Edwards Richmond
A charming story of a young girl participating in the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count. Readers follow Ava as she learns the logistics and helps keep track of the bird count (readers can follow along the tally in a sidebar–a brilliant added detail!). A wonderful story that brings charm into citizen science, and will invite children to hone their own observation skills and take a closer look at the birds around them.
|One Dark Bird by Liz Garton Scanlon
A gorgeously illustrated lyrical story of a starling murmuration. Counting up from 1 to 10 and more, the murmuration builds. This is so much more than a simple counting book and will invite a wide range of ages from around 0 to 8 to enjoy this simple wonder of nature.
|Crow Not Crow by Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple
A fantastic book for learning the very beginnings of bird identification! The little girl in the story goes birding with her father and learns how to be more attune to different sizes, shapes, colors, and markings of birds.
|Owl Babies by Martin Waddell
An absurdly cute story of three baby owls as they discuss where their mother went one night (to hunt for food for them, of course).
|Little Bird by Germano Zullo
A sparse text (mostly wordless) picture book depicting a lovely friendship between bird and man. A book that feels like it needs hours to sink in after you read it — and I hardly can get through it without crying!
|Mama Built A Little Nest by Jennifer Ward
A fun way to introduce the variety of nesting birds through a rhyming story and inviting illustrations. A nice variety of birds are represented. There is also included on each page a bit of extra facts to go back and learn about.
|Bird Builds a Nest by Martin Jenkins
This is a simple tale of a bird building a nest — great for the youngest readers. Cute and fun with illustrations that are not meant to be realistic.
|White Owl, Barn Owl by Nicola Davies
Another Nicola Davies (see Just Ducks! above) — the wonder of owls is represented so nicely through story, but the book also includes true facts to glean.
|The Barn Owls by Tony Johnston
A lovely story that takes us through the lives of Barn Owls that live in a 100+ old barn and repeat the same rituals for their livelihood that their ancestors di.
|Owl at Home by Arnold Lobel
True to any Arnold Lobel story, these stories of Owl at Home are utterly charming and hilarious. What a fun friend to have through story!
|Ivy Bird by Tania McCartney
An imaginative little girl spends her day with a variety of birds, pretending to be like them and their unique characteristics. The illustrations are vivid and Ivy is certainly a fun girl to spend some time with.
|Lali’s Feather by Farhana Zia
Lali find a random feather in a field and sets out to find out where it came from and to bring it home. She asks a wide variety of birds if the feather is theirs. I love this book, set in an Indian village, because it shows kindness and treasuring the present.
|The Burgess Bird Book for Children
Learn real information about birds through story. Thornton Burgess is just the best — on any “living book” must-read list for sure.
|Hawk, I’m Your Brother by Byrd Baylor
For all the kids who have dreamed about flying. The line illustrations are wonderful enough to earn a Caldecott honor, but the story told through prose is equally notable.
Favorites for Early Elementary: The Burgess Bird Book for Children
Bird Nonfiction Books For Children
General Bird Learning
|The Big Book of Birds by Yuval Zommer
A lovely introduction to birds for kids. Provides general information about birds in a fun way and dives deeper in to a range of bird species throughout the world. I think there could be more here, but overall this is fun and engaging! The kids love all of Yuval Zommer’s “Big Book” books.
|Nests, Eggs, Birds: An Illustrated Aviary by Kelsey Oseid
This is a gorgeous and engaging educational read that features highlights of birds as well as their nests and eggs. I love the format of this book and how the information is presented in such an interesting way.
|Crinkleroot’s Guide to Knowing the Birds by Jim Arnosky
I love all the Crinkleroot books but this one is my favorite. It’s just a really fun way to present a learning topic to children–by following a trusted guide (a gnome named Crinkleroot who was born in a tree and raised by bees)
|National Wildlife Federation World of Birds
A fantastic resource for bird lovers! The amount of information presented on a given bird species is fun and inviting to read.
|Fly With Me: A Celebration of Birds through Pictures, Poems, and Stories
This book has a lot of content — stories, poems, quotes, real facts about specific birds, information to learn about birds as a whole. A great reference to have around. It also uses real photos!
General Bird Learning – Best for Toddlers & Preschoolers
|About Birds: A Guide for Children by Cathryn Sill
About the simplest book version of what a bird is out there. The illustrations are lovely and I think this is so great for the youngest readers. Cathryn Sill has a whole series of “About” books for the natural world worthy of checking out as well!
|A Bird is a Bird by Lizzy Rockwell
A fun introduction to birds! I love the diversity of birds represented and this is a fun an engaging read.
|Beautiful Birds by Jean Roussen
An A to Z book that includes charming and amusing illustrations. Great for preschoolers learning their alphabet!
Biography & True Story
|The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon by Jacqueline Davis
A lovely account of the life of Audubon and his contribution to the world of ornithology.
|Counting Birds: The Idea That Helped Save Our Feathered Friends by Heidi E.Y. Stemple
Love the illustrations and the way the story is presented here on the citizen science practice of bird counts!
|The Sky Painter: Louis Fuertes, Bird Artist by Margarita Engle
Louis Fuertes was an ornithologist inspired by Audubon to paint his own artwork based on birds. The illustrations in this book are stunning, realistic, and engaging. The text is all written in prose. It’s a beautiful book that pays a nice tribute.
Nests & Eggs
|A Nest Is Noisy* by Dianna Hutts Aston
This book is just a must-have for any young naturalist’s library. The illustrations are just beautiful and the poetic language is engaging. Along the journey, real facts are included to learn more.
|An Egg Is Quiet* by Dianna Hutts Aston
Similar to above — just a super engaging way to explore the beauty and wonder of eggs!
|Even An Ostrich Needs A Nest by Irene Kelly
Explores a wide variety of materials and function of bird nests. There is a decent amount of text here so A Nest Is Noisy would be better for younger readers. One thing I absolutely love about this book is the map provided at the back showing where all the birds represented in this book live.
|All Kinds of Nests by Eun-gyu Choi
Another beautiful introduction to a wide variety of bird nests! The style here is a bit more playful than A Nest Is Noisy.
|Birds Build Nests by Yvonne Winer
This book is out of print but an excellent read! The narrative (in prose) takes you through a range of nest types and even include a detailed nest identification guide in the back of the book! The guide specifies which birds are featured in the story and gives more detail about the nests and location.
|Take-Along Guide: Birds, Nest, and Eggs by Mel Boring
A reference guide that’s not meant to be thorough — only 15 birds are represented. That said, this is such a great reference for kids if you are learning about any of the species in here.
*Book also depicts animals other than birds.
I also love the book We Build Our Homes by Laura Knowles — this features a number of birds but also mammals and insects.
Fiction stories that fit in with the Nests & Eggs theme: Mama Built A Little Nest, Bird Builds a Nest, and an honorable mention to The Apple Pie Tree (which really is about following an apple tree through the seasons but also features nesting Robins).
Beaks & Feet
|Beaks! by Sneed B. Collard III
I love this book so much! The diversity of beak adaptations are well-represented and detailed.
|Unbeatable Beaks by Stephen Swinburne
A simpler version of Beaks! by Sneed B. Collard III — just less text overall but still does an excellent job covering the subject matter. It’s out of print and hard to come by!
|Paddle Perch Climb: Bird Feet Are Neat by Laurie Ellen Angus
Simple text and illustrations — a fun introduction to the diversity of bird feet! Contains a nice summary table in the back of the book.
Wings & Feathers
|Wings* by Sneed B. Collard III
Similar format to Beaks! — lots of great detail provided on the topic. Note that other animals with wings are represented.
|Feathers Not Just For Flying by Melissa Stewart
This is a fantastic book on feathers! The illustrations are wonderful and I think all the information is presented in a meaningful way. New vocabulary terms are well defined. A nice variety of bird species are represented.
*Books also depicts animals other than birds.
Honorable Mention: The Book of Flight is a fun book about flying but also represents other animals besides birds.
|The Little Book of Backyard Bird Songs
House Wren, American Goldfinch, Red-Winged Blackbird, Killdeer, House Finch, Great Horned Owl, Blue Jay, American Robin, Northern Cardinal, Mourning Dove
|The Little Book of Woodland Bird Songs
Red Crossbill, Hermit Thrush, Black-Capped Chickadee, Common Loon, Red-Eyed Vireo, White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sharp-Shinned Hawk, Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, Purple Finch, Barred Owl, Wild Turkey, Downy Woodpecker
|Sounds of Nature: World of Birds
Bird sounds are presented by habitat — Rainforest, Mountains, Desert, Prairie, Woods, Ice, Wetlands, City, Ocean, Bush
Love the diversity represented here — so many birds to learn about!
Narrative that fits with the Bird Sounds theme: Have You Heard the Nesting Bird?
Specific Groups of Bird Species
|Watching Water Birds by Jim Arnosky
Loons, Grebes, Mergansers, Mallards, Wood Ducks, Canada Geese, Gulls, Herons
|Thunder Birds by Jim Arnosky
Eagles, Hawks, Falcons, Owls, Vultures, Herons, Egrets, Pelicans, Loons, Cormorants, Gannets
A few life-size fold-out pages are includes. Excellent life-like illustrations!
|All About Owls by Jim Arnosky|
|Owls by Gail Gibbons|
|Ducks! by Gail Gibbons|
|Birds of Prey by Robert Bateman|
|Soaring With the Wind: The Bald Eagle by Gail Gibbons|
|Backyard Birds of Summer by Carol Lerner
Grosbeaks, Buntings, Gray catbird, Hummingbirds, Orioles, Tanagers, Wren, Swallows, Eastern Phoebe, Bluebirds
Tips on attracting birds to your yard.
|Backyard Birds of Winter by Carol Lerner
Chickadees and Titmice, Cardinal, Blackbirds, Carolina Wren, Thrushes, Sparrows and Juncos, Rufous-sided Towhee, Jays, Crows, and Magpies, Finches
Superlative Birds by Leslie Bulion includes poems as well as scientific explorations.
What I Did Not Cover:
I feel this deserves it’s own category because there are SO MANY penguin books out there. For nonfiction, my favorite is Penguins! by Gail Gibbons.
Note I have not read all of these but here is my list. Many of these cover not just birds but mammals and insects as well:
- We Travel So Far by Laura Knowles
- Migration by Mike Unwin
- On the Wing: American Birds in Migration by Carol Lerner
- How Do Birds Find Their Way? by Roma Gans
- Flute’s Journey: The Life of a Wood Thrush by Lynne Cherry
- The Gift of Gerbert’s Feathers by Meaghann Weaver
- The Peregrine’s Journey by Madeleine Dunphy
- Red Knot by Nancy Willis
- The Flight of the Snow Geese by Deborah King
- Ookpik: The Travels of a Snowy Owl by Bruce Hiscock
Bird Books I Do Not Care For:
- The Egg by Britta Teckentrup
- Birds and Their Feathers by Britta Teckentrup
- Bird House by Clover Robin
The two Britta Teckentrup books both feel more like adult coffee-table books than children’s books. The information, while interesting, is not presented in any meaningful way. Plus, the illustrations are not realistic.
Bird House is a life-the-flap book which I typically do not enjoy — especially in a book like this with so much information. I have trouble determining what age group this book is aimed at.
Bird Field Guides
Last but not least I’m going to share a list of our favorite field guides:
- Sibley Guide to Birds (there’s also an East and West version)
- Peterson Field Guid to Birds (East or West)
- Peterson First Guide to Birds
- Birds Golden Guide
- National Audubon Society Field Guide to Birds (uses real photos)
I also highly recommend the Cornell Lab of Ornithology All About Birds Website as a fantastic learning resource.