Saturday, September 01, 2007

Animals on the Move

Following the seasonal movements of animals was one of the ways we marked the changing of the seasons where I grew up. Even though we tend to think about birds when we hear the word migration, many different types of animals migrate, including insects, fish, and mammals. While many animals fly these annual treks, others must walk or swim to reach their destinations. The books on this list highlight the wonders of migration in all its forms.

First, let's begin with general books about migration and animals other than birds.
  • Animals on the Move by Allan Fowler - This Rookie Read-About-Science selection presents the migration of salmon, whales, zebras, caribou and many different types of birds for the youngest readers.
  • The Journey: Stories of Migration by Cynthia Rylant - This book provides readers with a series of narratives relating the migratory habits of the American silver eel, the Arctic tern, the blue whale, the caribou, the desert locust and the monarch butterfly.
  • Being Caribou: Five Months on Foot with a Caribou Herd by Karsten Heuer - This book documents the trip of a wildlife biologist and his wife who travelled on foot with a herd of caribou across the tundra to the shores of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, where the calves were born.
  • Hurry and the Monarch by Antoine Flatharta - A migrating butterfly meets a tortoise in Texas and teaches him about the Monarch's life cycle and long migration.
  • Moon of the Monarch Butterflies by Jean Craighead George - One of the books in the 13 moons series, this title describes a female Monarch butterfly’s solitary flight from Arkansas to Michigan as she lays the eggs that will hatch and repeat her life cycle.
  • Marcelo, the Bat/Marcelo, el Murciélago by Laura Navarro Juan Sebastián - This bilingual storybook tells the story of Marcelo, a little bat who is confused about his family's winter migration from the U.S. to Mexico.
  • Adelina's Whales by Richard Sobol - As gray whales migrate down the Pacific Coast to their winter home, many end up off the coast of Baja, California. This lovely photoessay follows Adelina and others in her small Baja fishing village as they see and hear the returning whales, first from the shore and then from small boats.
In this section you will find some outstanding resources for studying bird migration.
  • Flute's Journey: The Life of a Wood Thrush by Lynne Cherry - In this fictional account, readers learn about the first year of a wood thrush's life, from its hatching in a forest in Maryland to its migration across the Gulf of Mexico to the Costa Rican rain forest and back again.
  • How Do Birds Find Their Way? by Roma Gans - This entry in the Let's Read-and-Find-Out Science series describes what ornithologists know about migration patterns and presents some of their theories about how birds know when to fly and their different means of navigation.
  • Red Knot: A Shorebird's Incredible Journey by Nancy Carol Willis - This amazing book follows the migration of a red knot shore bird as she makes her way north, beginning in Tierra del Fuego at the tip of South America, continuing through Brazil, along Delaware Bay and St. James Bay, and ending at the bird's arctic nesting grounds in Canada's Northwest Territories. A detailed map is included.
  • Welcome, Brown Bird by Mary Lyn Ray - In this story, two boys living in different countries share a common desire to protect the small brown wood thrush that migrates between their homes each year.
  • The Flight of the Snow Geese by Deborah King - This book follows a group of snow geese from their breeding grounds in the far north to New Mexico. The text is poetic and would make a terrific read aloud.
  • The Far-Flung Adventures of Homer the Hummer by Cynthia Furlong Reynolds - This fictional account of the migration of a ruby-throated hummingbird describes Homer's flight from the Costa Rican cloud forest to the eastern United States.
Finally, here are some poems touching on the theme of migration to round out your study. I have included the first few lines of each, along with a reference to the book where you can find the poems in their entirety.
  • Migration by Georgia Heard, in Creatures of Earth, Sea, and Sky.

    • In the winter, we say good-bye
      to the feathered compasses in the sky.

  • Canada Goose by Marilyn Singer, in Turtle in July.

    • Did I tell you?
      I should tell you
      Going home
      We're going home
      Are you coming?

  • The Monarch Butterfly by Douglas Florian, in insectlopedia.

    • He is a monarch.
      He is a king.
      He flies great migrations.
      Past nations he wings.


  1. Thanks for including *Do Lobsters Leap Waterfalls? A Book About Animal Migration* on your list! This was part of a set of 6 silly Q&A books I wrote about animal characteristics, and it was really fun to do. Hopefully, it's fun to read, too. Kids love being right and correcting the adult reader!


  2. Hi Laura,
    Thanks so much for writing! I love the books in this series. They are silly, fun and interesting. My son and I have been reading them and he loves them!