Connecting with wildlife and the natural world is critical for the physical and mental wellbeing of children.
Equally, understanding the role that humans play in the environment and its multiple ecosystems is vital knowledge to pass onto younger generations, as it is they who will have to learn how to navigate the complex and ever-changing dynamics between humans, animals, and the natural world.
What better way to impart this learning, instil a sense of curiosity, and promote an attitude of humble respect for nature and its many wonders than by reading? Books are sources of knowledge, awe, and joy, inspiring young readers to comprehend and imagine a world beyond their own.
These charming books about birds do just that, encouraging children to approach their surrounding environment and the many animals that inhabit it with pleasure, inquisitiveness, and a sense of personal responsibility. From picture books to board and chapter books, this reading list is sure to inform and delight young readers of all ages. We've also got a list of the best books about witches for children, if magic and mystery are more your kids' style, and if any of these books inspire your clan to hit the great outdoors, be sure to read our recommendations of the best walking boots.
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Kidadl's Top Pick
1. The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris
Although this book is not exclusively about birds, there are enough mentions, and the project as a whole is so wonderful, that it absolutely warrants our top bird books pick.
'The Lost Words' is a celebration of imagination and enchantment; of the power of language and naming to conjure and preserve our natural environment. It is a collection of spell-poems that seeks to re-wild the language of children, and was first imagined in response to the removal of certain words such as 'wren' and 'bluebell' from children's dictionaries. It is a cry of protest for the wilding of children's imagination and play, and a call to close the gap between childhood and nature. The poems are magical, they're termed 'spells' as they are designed to be spoken out loud by children in order to summon these lost words and creatures back into kids' hearts, but, as you can tell, we loved it just as much, so the appeal of this book is universal. The accompanying illustrations are equally majestic, and a testimony to the joy, power, and beauty of nature in harmony with childhood. This is a reading experience that neither you nor your kids will forget, a combination of poetic lyricism and quiet activism.
- Price: £16.99
- Ages: 5+
Best For Early Years
2. Birds by Carme Lemniscates
A lyrical book with magical illustrations, this is one of the better picture books for reading with younger children, teaching them to celebrate birds and the ways in which they inspire us without overwhelming facts. Instead, Lemniscates focuses on appreciating birds through soaring, poetic language, closing with an invocation to the imagination of children and the power of letting their thoughts soar. A truly beautiful picture book that we loved.
- Price: £12.99
- Ages: 3 - 6 years
Best Bird Book For Learning To Count
3. Wow! It's Night Time by Tim Hopgood
A follow up to the successful 'WOW! Said the Owl' which teaches children about colour, this board book is one great way of introducing preschool kids to reading and numeracy skills. Bright illustrations ensure there's something to count on each page as readers step into the story with a curious little owl discovering the wonders of nighttime.
- Price: £6.99
- Ages: 2 - 4 years
Best Classic Bird Book
4. Owl Babies by Martin Waddell
We remember being read this at bedtime, so you know it's one of the classic bird books. Specifically, it's about three baby owls (Sarah, Percy, and Bill) who awake in the night to find their mummy gone. Darkness descends, and they grow anxious, wondering to where she has got, before experiencing elation at her return and merrily welcoming her home. A perfect story for children with separation anxiety, this book has been spreading joy for years.
- Price: £6.99
- Ages: 3 - 5 years
Best Board Book For Penguin Lovers
5. Little Penguins by Cynthia Rylant
Coming from an award-winning author and illustrator, this picture book is a perfectly playful story of five excitable penguins. As the snow falls, the penguins want to play, so they bundle themselves up in scarves and socks and head out into the winter landscape before returning for cookies before bed. A perfect book with which to get cosy.
- Price: From £3
- Ages: 3 - 7 years
Best Bird Book For Twins
6. No Two Alike by Keith Baker
Just as no two snowflakes are the same, the two red birds in this rhyming book are almost exactly alike... but not quite. Kids travel through a snowy landscape with the birds in this tale, marvelling at how so many things (feathers and roads, forests and friends) can seem similar at first glance, but actually have wonderfully unique qualities. This book would make a magical present for twins, particularly around winter time.
- Price: From £3
- Ages: 3 - 7 years
Best Bird Book For City Dwellers
7. Ruby's Birds by Mya Thompson
Plucky Ruby is invited to the park by her neighbour Eva. After accidentally scaring a Golden-Winged Warbler with her singing, Eva teaches Ruby the fundamentals of urban bird watching, and Ruby's appreciation for her winged city friends sparks. This fabulous story is enhanced with a treasure hunt - find the birds hiding on nearly every page - and information on finding the very same birds in 'real life', as informed by the Cornell Lab's citizen-science project Celebrate Urban Birds.
- Price: From £4
- Ages: 3 - 7 years
Best Factual Bird Book
8. The Big Book of Birds by Yuval Zommer
A big, beautiful book with bold, detailed illustrations, this is a perfect book for kids who are sticklers for facts. Answering questions such as 'why is a flamingo pink?', it explains how to recognise different bird eggs and species, how to understand the migration habits of particular birds, and how to identify particular varieties of birds and their behaviour (alongside many other interesting titbits of information on all things bird). We love that it teaches children how to protect birds where they live and make their gardens bird-friendly. Don't forget to hunt for the 15 eggs nestled in the book's pages!
- Price: £12.95
- Ages: We recommend from 6+
Best Festive Bird Book
9. Bird Count by Susan Edwards Richmond
Follow Ava as she embarks on the festive tradition of tracking and counting local birds across her snowy home town, recounting the rules of the annual Bird Count as she goes. A charming introduction to bird watching and observing nature, this is based on the 'real life' tradition of The National Audubon Society's annual Christmas Bird Count, in which the author Edwards Richmond has participated for the past fifteen years. Richmond uses this experience to provide detailed information on each bird that Ava finds, inspiring and encouraging young citizen scientists and bird watchers to engage in their own bird counting exercise.
- Price: From £10
- Ages: 4 - 8 years
Best Bird Book For Tweens
10. The Wheel On The School by Meindert DeJong
This is a retro choice, as it was written in the 70s, but it's still one of the best bird books out there for tween readers. Lina wonders why the storks no longer come to nest in her little Dutch fishing village of Shora, and determines with her schoolmates to bring the storks back. A delightful tale about the power of one voice to motivate a community to make a difference to their natural environment, what more pertinent narrative could there be?
- Price: From £16
- Ages: 8 - 12
Kidadl Best Buys selects the top parent-recommended products across the web for families of all ages. If you liked our suggestions for the best books about birds then why not take a look at these coding books for kids, or for something different take a look at our list of the best kids' waterproof trousers.
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