Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Hooray!  Summer is just around the corner. It's the perfect time for reading to launch kids into action investigating, exploring, and having FUN!!!!

So, one by one, I'm going to share summertime activities inspired by my three 2013 Junior Library Guild books: THE LONG, LONG JOURNEY (Millbrook/Lerner, 2013), SNOW SCHOOL (Charlesbridge, 2013), BATS: BIGGEST! LITTLEST! (Boyds Mills, 2013). And be sure you sign up to be a Google Friend of my blog. That way at the end of June you'll be in to win an autographed copy of THE LONG, LONG JOURNEY.

And it's the book being featured this time.  Share reading it with children, indoors or outside. In an eggshell, this is what it's about.

Crackle! Crackle! Crunch! What's hatching from that egg? It's a young bar-tailed godwit. She will spend the summer in Alaska learning to fly, find her own food, and escape from scary predators. Her long, long journey begins in October when she flies to New Zealand. This 7,000-mile flight is the longest nonstop bird migration ever recorded. Follow along on her amazing voyage!

And after reading the story, take a few minutes to dig a little deeper into this nonfiction book. There are three main kinds of nonfiction books: surveys that share an overview of something like different kind of frogs; concept books that focus on ideas and strands of information, such as life cycles; and specialized books that dig deep into a topic such as solving a problem or a person's research. THE LONG, LONG JOURNEY is a concept book. And it's told in a narration or story-telling style.

Like all of my nonfiction books, THE LONG, LONG JOURNEY also includes special features in the back of the book.  In this book, those features are: 

  • Extra facts: Godwits Are Amazing!
  • Sources of more information: Find Out More
  • And a personal note from me about what inspired me to write this story and what special things I found out while researching the book: Author's Note

One more thing to check out is found in the front of the book, right before the title page. It's the Acknowledgment. That shares information about the experts or scientists who shared information about their research--information that was key to my writing the book. Those people also always read the book first to double-check that all of the facts shared are absolutely correct.

Okay, enough digging deeper. It's time for kids to have fun.  So help them explore your local birds with these fun activities. 

Go Bird Watching

Go for a walk. Or sit quietly outdoors, look and listen.  If you have binoculars, take those along too. A book showing pictures of local birds is great to have handy. So is a notebook and pencil for taking notes and sketching.

  • What are your local birds doing?
  • In what ways are the birds you see different?  
  • Do you see a lot of one kind?  Only a few of another? List the names of any you know or can identify.
  • What activity do you see birds doing most often.
  • Pick a favorite. Sketch it. 
  • Pretend you can understand birds. Write what you think two birds are saying to each other.
  • Think of someone you want to tell about your birdwatching adventure. Plan what you'll say. Then find that person and share.

Check out Mama's Homestead and Bird Watching.com for more bird watching fun. 

Male Red-winged blackbirds puff and sing to make females notice them.

Listen To The Birds

Outdoors, listen to all the different bird voices. Try mimicking them and listen for them to call back to you.  Once you're back indoors, visit Audubon's website to play the "Guess Who's Squawkin'!" game. It's a great way to discover the sounds some familiar North American birds make.

Try Eating Like A Bird

Then visit this PBS website to have fun, "Eating Like A Bird." You'll explore what it's like to have different kinds of bird beaks when it's time to eat.

Do you know a fun activity for exploring birds? Post it here for everyone to share. Or share a link to your favorite bird website.

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