This post is a part of my series Always Books in which I share some of our family's favorite living books. Gathered through our twenty-four (so far) years of homeschooling, they are books that we have loved, books that are inspiring, books that we heartily recommend. These are books that will stay on our shelves...always.
When my friend Kathy introduced me to The Burgess Bird Book for Children, I knew that I would have to find one for our family. Kati, then nine years old, loved birds (she still does) and I thought that this book would easily engage her.
It wasn't an easy find! Online copies for this out of print book were expensive. I purchased a Dover thrift edition, but the illustrations were not the originals...or were they done by the original artist, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, but were in black and white? I am not sure, but I do remember that the art was not satisfactory*.
Kathy actually found a lovely edition for us in a local used book store and she kindly asked the owner to hold it for me. When I went to see it, we were smitten and gladly paid the thirty dollars...more than my usual price for books, but well worth it for an "Always Book"!
As I knew she would, my little bird lover adored the book. We were intrigued by the stories of Jenny Wren, Bully the English Sparrow, Melody the Wood Thrush, and their friends. Yes, Burgess gave the birds names and personalities, but, don't be fooled...there are enough facts about birds and their habits intertwined in these tales to teach even an experienced birder a thing or two!
As I mentioned, the illustrations are key. Fuertes was a naturalist as well as an artist, and his watercolors are beautifully detailed, a memorable part of the book.
We used this book as the basis of our elementary science curriculum one year.
Read the book (no more than one story/chapter per day).
Have the child(ren) do oral and/or written narrations.
Try some bird sketching or watercolor.
P.S. After I learned about The Burgess Bird Book for Children, I seemed to remember that someone had given me some sort of animal book that was similar. Sure enough, I found it on my shelf and it was The Burgess Animal Book for Children. Another year of fascinating, engaging science! And another "Always Book"!
* It appears that there are now reprints of The Burgess Bird Book for Children that do have color illustrations and are entirely affordable! Click ~ here ~ for one.
Click ~here~ to see more of our Always Books!