Start with a Book

Ricky Rocket

Books and activities for summer reading and learning from Reading Rockets

Start With a Book: Books and activities for summer reading and summer learning

Bird Buddies! A book-based STEAM adventure

Explore, read, observe, invent, and learn — all about birds and birding in your community


Welcome to Bird Buddies!

The best way to get kids learning is to build on their curiosity and interests. The Bird Buddies program is kid-centered with an emphasis on inquiry and creativity.

A 5-day program: adapt it to fit your schedule!

We’ve designed the program to be user-friendly and adaptable. Use the materials each day for five days in a row, or once a week for five weeks (or any other way you like) to add hands-on learning to your summer programming. The materials are designed for elementary aged children, but can be adapted for older or younger kids.

Bird Buddies Toolkit

The toolkit includes 5 topics for exploration through fiction and nonfiction books, hands-on activities, new vocabulary, and fun writing prompts. Each topic also includes recommendations for kid-friendly digital media (websites, podcasts, apps, and video). In the Appendix you'll find printable "Best of the Birds", bird words, Bird Buddies name tags, journal covers, and certificates — as well as tip sheets from Reading Rockets.

Note: Be sure to view and print from Adobe Reader (or an alternative PDF reader), not your web browser.

If you want to choose individual sections of the Bird Buddies toolkit, just select any of the links below to download and print a PDF.

Books about birds

Looking for great books about birds and birding? Browse our Bird Buddies booklist featuring fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

Bird Buddies booklist >

Bird Buddies certificate

Download and print this certificate, to acknowledge participation by your young Bird Buddies! We hope they'll want to continue learning about the amazing lives of birds, their fascinating behaviors, their important role in a healthy and balanced environment, and how we can protect them and the habitats they live in.

Bird Buddies toolkit authors

Rachael Walker
Rachael has more than 30 years of experience developing partnerships with nonprofit organizations, corporations, and public agencies to benefit at-risk children and families. She launches national campaigns, coordinates special events, and develops original content for the National Education Association, Random House Children’s Books, PBS, and WETA’s Learning Media initiatives (Reading Rockets, Colorín Colorado, and AdLit.org). Visit Rachael at Belle of the Book.

Gary Worthington
Gary has taught at all levels from elementary school to college for 20 years. He has been an active and avid birder for over 50 years, organizing Audubon Christmas Bird counts, participating in the North American Breeding Bird Survey, and The Breeding Bird Atlases in three states and one province in Canada and volunteering for a number of other bird surveys.

Dr. Janet E. Worthington
Jan has more than 50 years of experience in teaching at all levels from kindergarten to graduate school. In addition, she has provided workshops, seminars, and conference presentations for educators across the United States. She is co-author of four books on teaching literature for elementary and high school students.

The development of the Bird Buddies toolkit was made possible by a generous grant from the Park Foundation.