Middle grade books about birds make for the most heartwarming stories! This is a list that has been on my heart for a while, so I was thrilled to find a sponsor whose book matches the theme. On this list of bird books, you’ll find books with talking birds, kids who are into bird watching, and kids who form sweet bonds with birds. You’re in for a treat!
Best Middle Grade Books About Birds
Here are 20 best middle grade books about birds:
Across the Pond
Published: March 16, 2021
Callie can’t wait for her new life to start. After a major friendship breakup in San Diego, moving overseas to Scotland gives her the perfect chance to reinvent herself. On top of that, she’s going to live in a real-life castle!
But as romantic as life in a castle sounds, the reality is a little less comfortable: it’s run-down, freezing, and crawling with critters. Plus, starting off on the wrong foot with the gardener’s granddaughter doesn’t help her nerves about making new friends. So she comes up with the perfect solution: she’ll be homeschooled. Her parents agree, on one condition: she has to participate in a social activity.
Inspired by a journal that she finds hidden in her bedroom, Callie decides to join a birding club. Sure, it sounds unusual, but at least it’s not sports or performing. But when she clashes with the club leader, she risks losing a set of friends all over again. Will she ever be able to find her flock and make this strange new place feel like home?
The Someday Birds
Published: January 24, 2017
Charlie’s perfectly ordinary life has been unraveling ever since his war journalist father was injured in Afghanistan.
When his father heads from California to Virginia for medical treatment, Charlie reluctantly travels cross-country with his boy-crazy sister, unruly brothers, and a mysterious new family friend. He decides that if he can spot all the birds that he and his father were hoping to see someday along the way, then everything might just turn out okay.
Debut author Sally J. Pla has written a tale that is equal parts madcap road trip, coming-of-age story for an autistic boy who feels he doesn’t understand the world, and an uplifting portrait of a family overcoming a crisis.
Call Me Alastair
Published: February 7, 2019
A hypochondriac boy.
A lonely old woman.
Two devoted parrot siblings trying to stay together.
All have lessons to learn, to live fully fledged lives.
Alastair is a brilliant parrot who loves poetry and is fiercely protective of his big-hearted sister, Aggie. He yearns to break them out of the pet store they’ve always known. But when he is separated from Aggie and his wild dreams for the future lie in ruins, will he ever see Aggie again? And will he ever learn to trust the people around him?
A heart-felt, bird’s-eye view of love and what it takes to break free from the cages we build for ourselves.
Published: May 2, 2017
A girl in foster care tries to find her birth mother before she loses her forever in this spare and beautifully told novel about last chances and new opportunities.
For a kid bouncing from foster home to foster home, The Book of Changes is the perfect companion. That’s why Marin carries three pennies and a pocket-sized I Ching with her everywhere she goes. Yet when everything in her life suddenly starts changing—when Marin lands in a foster home that feels like somewhere she could stay, maybe forever—the pennies don’t have any answers for her.
Marin is positive that all the wrongs in her life will be made right if only she can find her birth mother and convince her that they belong together. Marin is close, oh so close—until she gets some unwelcome news and her resolve, like the uneasy Earth far beneath the city of San Francisco, is shaken.
365 Days to Alaska
Published: January 19, 2021
Eleven-year-old Rigel Harman loves her life in off-the-grid Alaska. She hunts rabbits, takes correspondence classes through the mail, and plays dominoes with her family in their two-room cabin. She doesn’t mind not having electricity or running water—instead, she’s got tall trees, fresh streams, and endless sky.
But then her parents divorce, and Rigel and her sisters have to move with their mom to the Connecticut suburbs to live with a grandmother they’ve never met. Rigel hates it in Connecticut. It’s noisy, and crowded, and there’s no real nature. Her only hope is a secret pact that she made with her father: If she can stick it out in Connecticut for one year, he’ll bring her back home.
At first, surviving the year feels impossible. Middle school is nothing like the wilderness, and she doesn’t connect with anyone . . . until she befriends a crow living behind her school. And if this wild creature has made a life for itself in the suburbs, then, just maybe, Rigel can too.
Otto P. Nudd
Published: December 29, 2020
Otto P. Nudd: Tthe BEST bird in Ida Valley (at least according to him). While his buddies waste their days at the dump cracking jokes, Otto invents things with his human neighbor Old Man Bartleby in their workshop.
Marla: The Competition. This protective mama-squirrel will swipe Otto’s snacks from under his beak if it means another meal for her babies!
Pippa: The girl who loves the birds in Ida Valley, and Otto most of all. But when Bartleby”s latest contraption lands him in danger, the whole neighborhood–kids and critters alike–will have to join forces to save their oldest friend!
The Simple Art of Flying
Published: February 12, 2019
Sometimes flying means keeping your feet on the ground…
Born in a dismal room in a pet store, Alastair the African grey parrot dreams of escape to bluer skies. He’d like nothing more than to fly away to a palm tree with his beloved sister, Aggie. But when Aggie is purchased by twelve-year-old Fritz, and Alastair is adopted by elderly dance-enthusiast and pie-baker Albertina Plopky, the future looks ready to crash-land.
In-between anxiously plucking his feathers, eating a few books, and finding his own poetic voice, Alastair plots his way to a family reunion. But soon he’s forced to choose between the life he’s always dreamed of and admitting the truth: that sometimes, the bravest adventure is in letting go.
Published: March 3, 2020
en years ago, an impossible thing happened: a flock of pigeons picked up a human baby who had been abandoned in an empty lot and carried her, bundled in blankets, to their roof. Coo has lived her entire life on the rooftop with the pigeons who saved her. It’s the only home she’s ever known. But then a hungry hawk nearly kills Burr, the pigeon she loves most, and leaves him gravely hurt.
Coo must make a perilous trip to the ground for the first time to find Tully, a retired postal worker who occasionally feeds Coo’s flock, and who can heal injured birds. Tully mends Burr’s broken wing and coaxes Coo from her isolated life. Living with Tully, Coo experiences warmth, safety, and human relationships for the first time. But just as Coo is beginning to blossom, she learns the human world is infinitely more complex?and cruel?than she could have imagined.
A Bird Will Soar
Published: October 19, 2021
Axel loves everything about birds, especially eagles. No one worries that an eagle will fly too far and not come home—a fact Axel wishes his mother understood. Deep down, Axel knows that his mother is like an osprey—the best of all bird mothers—but it’s hard to remember that when she worries and keeps secrets about important things. His dad is more like a wild turkey, coming and going as he pleases. His dad’s latest disappearance is the biggest mystery of all.
Despite all this, Axel loves his life—especially the time he spends with his friends observing the eagles’ nest in the woods near his home. But when a tornado damages not only Axel’s home but the eagles’ nest, Axel’s life is thrown into chaos. Suddenly his dad is back to help repair the damage, and Axel has to manage his dad’s presence and his beloved birds’ absence. Plus, his mom seems to be keeping even more secrets.
But Axel knows another important fact: an eagle’s instincts let it soar. Axel must trust his own instincts to help heal his family and the nest he loves.
Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers
Published: September 3, 2019
When three very different girls find a mysterious invitation to a lavish mansion, the promise of adventure and mischief is too intriguing to pass up. Ofelia Castillo (a budding journalist), Aster Douglas (a bookish foodie), and Cat Garcia (a rule-abiding birdwatcher) meet the kid behind the invite, Lane DiSanti, and it isn’t love at first sight. But they soon bond over a shared mission to get the Floras, their local Scouts, to ditch an outdated tradition. In their quest for justice, independence, and an unforgettable summer, the girls form their own troop and find something they didn’t know they needed: sisterhood.
Published: September 10, 2002
Everybody loves Mother Paula’s pancakes. Everybody, that is, except the colony of cute but endangered owls that live on the building site of the new restaurant. Can the awkward new kid and his feral friend prank the pancake people out of town? Or is the owls’ fate cemented in pancake batter?
Welcome to Carl Hiaasen’s Florida—where the creatures are wild and the people are wilder!
Published: April 30, 2019
December believes she is a bird. The scar on her back is where her wings will sprout, and one day soon, she will soar away. It will not matter that she has no permanent home. Her destiny is in the sky.
But then she’s placed with foster mom Eleanor, a kind woman who volunteers at an animal rescue and has secrets of her own. December begins to see that her story could end a different way – but could she ever be happy down on the ground?
In her arresting debut, Sandy Stark-McGinnis offers an inspiring story about family, friendship, and finding where you belong.
Of a Feather
Published: February 9, 2021
Great horned owl Rufus is eight months old and still can’t hunt. When his mother is hit by a car, he discovers just how dangerous the forest can be.
Reenie has given up on adults and learned how to care for herself—a good thing, since she’s sent to live with an aunt she’s never met. Yet this aunt has a wonderful secret: she’s a falconer who agrees to help Reenie catch an injured passage hawk in the wild and rehabilitate it.
When Reenie traps bedraggled Rufus, his eyes lock onto her heart, and they form a powerful friendship. But can Rufus learn to trust in the outside world and fly free? And can Reenie open her heart enough to truly soar?
Published: September 9, 2014
“I love this book because it’s a beautifully written story of loss and mental illness that also shows the healing power of love and self-expression.” – Seira Wilson, Amazon Editor
For fans of Jennifer Holm (Penny from Heaven, Turtle in Paradise), a heartfelt and unforgettable middle-grade novel about an irresistible girl and her family, tragic change, and the healing power of love and friendship. In 1972 home is a cozy nest on Cape Cod for eleven-year-old Naomi “Chirp” Orenstein, her older sister, Rachel; her psychiatrist father; and her dancer mother. But then Chirp’s mom develops symptoms of a serious disease, and everything changes.
Chirp finds comfort in watching her beloved wild birds. She also finds a true friend in Joey, the mysterious boy who lives across the street. Together they create their own private world and come up with the perfect plan: Escape. Adventure. Discovery.
Nest is Esther Ehrlich’s stunning debut novel. Her lyrical writing is honest, humorous, and deeply affecting. Chirp and Joey will steal your heart. Long after you finish Nest, the spirit of Chirp and her loving family will stay with you.
Land of the Cranes
Published: September 15, 2020
From the prolific author of The Moon Within comes the heart-wrenchingly beautiful story in verse of a young Latinx girl who learns to hold on to hope and love even in the darkest of places: a family detention center for migrants and refugees.Nine-year-old Betita knows she is a crane. Papi has told her the story, even before her family fled to Los Angeles to seek refuge from cartel wars in Mexico.
The Aztecs came from a place called Aztlan, what is now the Southwest US, called the land of the cranes. They left Aztlan to establish their great city in the center of the universe-Tenochtitlan, modern-day Mexico City. It was prophesized that their people would one day return to live among the cranes in their promised land. Papi tells Betita that they are cranes that have come home.
Then one day, Betita’s beloved father is arrested by Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) and deported to Mexico. Betita and her pregnant mother are left behind on their own, but soon they too are detained and must learn to survive in a family detention camp outside of Los Angeles. Even in cruel and inhumane conditions, Betita finds heart in her own poetry and in the community she and her mother find in the camp. The voices of her fellow asylum seekers fly above the hatred keeping them caged, but each day threatens to tear them down lower than they ever thought they could be. Will Betita and her family ever be whole again?
Be Light Like a Bird
Published: September 1, 2016
After the death of her father, twelve-year-old Wren finds her life thrown into upheaval. And when her mother decides to pack up the car and forces Wren to leave the only home she’s ever known, the family grows even more fractured. As she and her mother struggle to build a new life, Wren must confront issues with the environment, peer pressure, bullying, and most of all, the difficulty of forgiving those who don’t deserve it. A quirky, emotional middle grade novel set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Be Light Like a Bird features well-drawn, unconventional characters and explores what it means to be a family―and the secrets and lies that can tear one apart.
The Desperate Adventures of Zeno and Alya
Published: October 15, 2013
An orphaned African grey parrot who can speak 127 words. A girl so sick, she has forgotten what it means to try. Fate––and a banana nut muffin––bring them together. Will their shared encounter help them journey through storms inside and out? Will they lose their way, or will they find what really matters?
Here is a story that will remind readers how navigating so many of life’s desperate adventures requires friendship and, above all, hope.
Asha & the Spirit Bird
Published: June 2, 2020
Winner of the 2019 Costa Children’s Book Award!In contemporary India, 12-year-old Asha will journey across the dangerous Himalayas to find her missing father and save her family’s home — guided by a mythical bird and a green-eyed tiger who she believes to be the spirits of her ancestors. This is an incredibly unique debut about loss, family, buried treasure, and hope.Asha lives on a family farm with her mother in rural India in the foothills of the Himalayas. Life would be perfect if her father were with them instead of working at the factory in the faraway city. But she knows they wouldn’t be able to afford their home without the money he sends home.
When four months go by without a single letter, a ruthless debt collector arrives with a warning, and soon the entire world that Asha has known is threatened. Determined to save her home, Asha and her best friend must swallow their fears and set out on a dangerous journey across the Himalayas to find her father.As desperation turns to peril, Asha will face law enforcement, natural disaster, and the wild dangers of the Himalayas. But with a majestic bird and a green-eyed tiger as her guides, who she believes to be the spirits of her ancestors, she’s determined to keep faith in order to save her family.
Published: March 27, 2012
Along the Arctic Circle lies a small island called Neversink, home to a colony of odd-looking seabirds called auks, including one Lockley J. Puffin. With their oceanfront views and plentiful supply of fish, the auks have few concerns—few, save for Lockley’s two best friends, Egbert and Ruby, a know-it-all walrus and a sharp-tongued hummingbird.
But all of this is about to change. Rozbell, the newly crowned king of the Owl Parliament, has long had his scheming eyes on the small colony to the north. Now Neversink’s independence hangs in the balance. An insurgence of owls will inevitably destroy life as the auks know it—unless Lockley can do something about it.
The Most Perfect Thing in the Universe
Published: June 1, 2021
Eleven-year-old Loah Londonderry is definitely a homebody. While her mother, a noted ornithologist, works to save the endangered birds of the shrinking Arctic tundra, Loah anxiously counts the days till her return home. But then, to Loah’s surprise and dismay, Dr. Londonderry decides to set off on a perilous solo quest to find the Loah bird, long believed extinct. Does her mother care more deeply about Loah the bird than Loah her daughter?
Things get worse yet when Loah’s elderly caretakers fall ill and she finds herself all alone except for her friend Ellis. Ellis has big problems of her own, but she believes in Loah. She’s certain Loah has strengths that are hidden yet wonderful, like the golden feather tucked away on her namesake bird’s wing. When Dr. Londonderry’s expedition goes terribly wrong, Loah needs to discover for herself whether she has the courage and heart to find help for her mother, lost at the top of the world.
There they are: 20 of the best middle grade books about birds. Have you read and enjoyed any of these books? Any books I missed? Feel free to share.
Many thanks to our sponsor, Alison Myers Greene and her forthcoming debut middle grade book, A Bird Will Soar, about an autistic boy with a connection to birds. Thank you for supporting the authors and brands who keep Reading Middle Grade running.
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