Non-fiction Monday

The Young Birder’s Guide to Birds of Eastern North America (Peterson Field Guides)
by Bill Thompson III is a great book for anyone, young, or old, who is interested in birds and birding.

Bill Thompson is well-known in the birding world as the editor of Bird Watcher’s Digest. His newest field guide for Eastern North American birds is aimed at a much younger audience than expected- kids.  This portable, slim, field-friendly guide is perfect for young birders.

The first 40 pages in this slim (easily packed into a bag) volume focus on the hobby of birdwatching and how to get involved.  For any child or person new to birding, Thompson is the authority on birdwatching.  The first few chapters do a great job of convincing the reader that birding is cool and fun, something that I don’t think many children consider.  Birding is also fairly inexpensive and can be done almost anywhere, at any time.

The field guide is slim and easily placed into a bag or pocket, yet it is packed to the gills with information.  The guide covers  200 common or intriguing birds from Eastern North America,  Each bird receives a page with a picture, the basics to identify the bird and its voice, a range map and a “wow” factoid about the species. Thompson does not fall into the trap of only featuring exotic, rare birds that kids will have a hard time seeing.  Instead, the sparrows, finches, sea birds, and cardinals are all well-represented.  I used the book while watching my birdfeeder this past weekend and it was perfect.  The bottom of each page also has a check box, where kids can mark the birds they have seen, to begin their life-list of sightings.

One of my favorite things about this book is that Thompson apparently consulted with his eleven-year old daughter’s class in coming up with the design of the book, so the book is child and adult friendly. The Wow factoids are fun and informative, and the pictures of each species are breath-taking. Plus, the cover is wipeable, meaning it will survive those days out in the backyard!

The field guide covers all types of habitats and all of Eastern North America.  This would make a great gift for kids from 8-18.