Bird Week: Birds in Children’s and Young Adult Literature

The Seattle Public Library is partnering with the Seward Park Audubon Center for Bird Week, April 23-30, in celebration of the center’s 10th anniversary and the National Audubon Society’s 2018 Year of the Bird.

 In honor of Bird Week, I’ve selected three titles written for young people with appeal to bird lovers of all ages: a not-quite-nonfiction picture book with a fun twist, a tale from the Muskogee tradition, and a teen novel about a young birdwatcher.

 I Spy in the Sky by Edward Gibbs (2014) picture book

This interactive picture book featuring peek-through pages invites readers to guess the identity of different birds. Gibbs’ brightly colored illustrations and clever clues create a fun take on the classic game of I Spy.


The Great Ball Game: A Muskogee Story by Joseph Bruchac (1994) folk tale

You may have heard how Raven brought light to the world, but do you know why birds fly south in winter? This was decided in a ball game between the birds and the animals! The traditional Muskogee tale, told by Native author Joseph Bruchac, is accompanied by cut-paper illustrations by Susan L. Roth, depicting the Earth’s creatures in the greatest athletic competition in the history of the world.

 Ship of Souls by Zetta Elliott (2011) young adult fiction

This short novel follows D, an African-American teen who is in foster care after the death of his mother. Unlike many stories that begin this way, this isn’t the tale of D’s spiral into crime and drugs. D is a good student who wants to keep his head down and not cause trouble for anyone.

Despite feeling very alone in the world, D becomes friends with a basketball player who he is tutoring (who happens to be Muslim), and also a pretty, popular girl who defies the pretty+popular=snobbish stereotype.

While birdwatching in the park, the one place D can be at peace, he comes to find a magical bird who tells him they will be journeying together to another realm to gather the dead. The adventure that ensues takes D and his friends on an otherworldly trip under lower Manhattan to the site of the African Burial Ground, where they witness the strands that connect past, present, and future.

For more reading, check out this list of books featuring birds in children’s and teen fiction and birds in children’s folklore.

~posted by Becky B.

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