Swallows in the Birdhouse - for teachers

swallows cover

Illustrated by Robin Brickman.
Published by Millbrook Press, 1996.
Hardcover 1-56294-182-8.

Book Description

Readable text follows a pair of tree swallows from their discovery of a birdhouse built by a young girl and her brother, through nest building and incubation of the eggs, to caring for the babies. Swinburne's lovely descriptive language details each part of the process in clear, simple prose, effectively using context to introduce readers to new vocabulary words. Art enthusiasts will be intrigued by Brickman's unusual super-realistic watercolor illustrations, which have been cut, sculpted, and layered to achieve a wonderful three-dimensional effect. Several supplements appear after the main text. Some add to the book's usefulness as a research tool--for example, a selection of facts about tree swallows. Others include step-by-step instructions for building a birdhouse and attracting birds. A glossary is also appended.

Two children put up a birdhouse in their backyard and watch as a pair of tree swallows build a nest and raise six babies before migrating south in the fall. The book includes information about tree swallows and about birdhouses.

How I was inspired

This story was inspired when my family put a birdhouse in the yard. I immediately became “curious” about the birds that were building a nest in the house. I believe that such “curiosity” is vital to non-fiction writing. Using what I call “Octopus Research,” I gathered information from many sources.

Book Features

  • Cut-paper illustrations
  • Includes section of fascinating facts about tree swallows and quick guide to tree swallows
  • Includes instructions for building a birdhouse
  • Uses “vivid language”

Classroom Connections

  • Follow the instructions at the back of the book to build a birdhouse.
  • Write a procedural narrative explaining “how to” build something.
  • Make your own nature scene using cut-paper illustrations.
  • Study another bird and write facts about its habitat and life.

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