*A collection of short stories (6 stories) with photos for 7 to 10 year olds (middle-grade/lower YA readers could read these on their own, too, especially if interested in birds/nature!)
*Birds as the main characters (Although the birds do not talk, the author personifies them.)
*Rating: I enjoyed THE BIRDS by Shelley J. Reeves. The style of writing is different than what we are used to–it’s more like a storyteller, and she does address the reader as “you.” There’s not much dialogue, but plenty of wonderful descriptive and fun writing. These would be perfect READ ALOUD stories for a classroom teacher or at bedtime for a young reader. In the Kindle version, the photographs of the birds are delightful and add to the fun of each piece. An avid and fluent middle-grade reader would enjoy reading this book, too, especially if he/she loves nature, birds, and fun stories!
Short, short summary: In the end of the Kindle version of The Birds, Shelley J. Reeves states that these stories are modernized versions of stories that were originally written by Edith M. Patch and published in 1921. (She sells each story separately on Amazon, also.) As for the compilation title, The Birds, she gives credit to Alfred Hitchcock and his scary story by the same name. Although in this case, these stories are not scary, but sweet. There are six and each focus on a different bird: Chick, a chickadee; Gavin, a seagull; Corbie, a black crow; Autumn, a snowy egret; Oliver, an owl; and Robert, a bobolink. In each, the bird has an adventure, but one that could actually happen to it–the story is just told from the bird’s point of view. For example, in Corbie’s story, a father takes the crow out of its nest (which people would probably never do today) and brings him inside for the children to raise and have as a pet. Corbie actually loves his new home, and the children allow him to fly free–he always goes back home to them. It’s sweet! The message of this story is, according to the author’s website that the crow is wonderfully loyal and may give people a new respect or fondness for crows. In “The Vagabond,” Robert the bobolink makes a 4000-mile journey from Maine to South America. Shelley says, “The story inspires the reader to follow his or her calling, no matter how out-of-reach it may seem.” Check out the link above (the author’s website) to see some You Tube videos with the birds and find out more, if this intrigues you!
So what do I do with this book?
1. Children could create their own bird stories, based on these from Shelley J. Reeves. What about a story about a cardinal at the bird feeder (that happens in my yard all the time!) and using strategy to get a good spot? A blue jay could be a main character in a story–I always call the blue jay at our bird feeder the bully of the bird feeder. Children could work on these together or separately and draw illustrations or find some online.
2. When you finish reading each story with children or tweens, ask them what they learned? What did the bird teach them that they could apply to their own lives? These are perfect journal writing activities–have children write a sentence (younger) or a paragraph (older) and then discuss!
3. Once you read the whole book, have an election (this works on social studies skills, too). Which bird would make a great president? Have students choose some candidates (based on the story–for example, Corbie the crow is smart and loyal), create campaign posters, and even give speeches (representing their candidate). Then have voting day–which bird is going to become president?
June 17, 2013 in Book Club Possibility, Books with Science Content, Creative Writing activities, Journal Writing, Middle School Teachers, Reeves Shelley J., Research Ideas
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