Posted in Sideshows

Reference Books and the Curious

English: An adult male Downy Woodpecker, Picoi...
English: An adult male Downy Woodpecker, Picoides pubescens in Ottawa, Ontario (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was at my woodland retreat this weekend when my cell phone rang with “Grandma answer the phone!” I had added my granddaughter’s voice as a ringtone and I smile each, and every time, I hear it. When I answered, Katherine excitedly started describing a new bird at her feeder. How I enjoy being her favorite reference for birding! After a fun talk, we decided she had seen a Downy Woodpecker. My questions about what she had seen, hopefully, schooled her about what to look for in the future.

Although I hope she never gives up on seeking my opinion, I realized that she needed a few reference books for those rare occasions when grandma does not have cell service or ,(rarer still) doesn’t know the answer.

Yes, the internet offers quick access to information BUT I think reference books have a different and equal value. First, looking things up, using your head, not a vague definition, can really challenge a young mind to filter information… people need a triage of sorts for describing things and narrowing down their searches. Too often, someone will call the information line for a phone number after exploring only one avenue for the yellow page listing. Lazy! Can’t find hair dresser?…try beautician…try hair salon… and so forth.

I have ordered Katherine a guide to Eastern US Birds from Amazon. On top of fine tuning her vocabulary, she may have fun with discovering new birds to be on the “look out” for. Many times I start a search for a specific bird (in a book) which ends, half an hour later, having been drawn into information about others.

Books are portable, personal and they smell good too! Never overlook what they can offer, above the computer, to the young and curious among us.


I love a well told story. If it makes me laugh, all the better.

10 thoughts on “Reference Books and the Curious

    1. Can’t wait to share more things “wild” with her. My grandmother showed me much of what I know. Hope to keep a journal this summer….at 7 1/2 she finally has reading and writing skills to expand upon. Thanks Paula!

  1. Wow! you’re a great Grandma….I love my bird reference books. My husband remembers the first time I saw a Pileated woodpecker in our back yard. Spectacular! Your grand daughter is going to have a lot of fun with that reference book:)

  2. I have really enjoyed using the Android App, Audubon Bird. It lets you browse by shape, name, and family, plus it offers other search features. It also has color photos of both genders and juvenile birds. Plus it has multiple recordings of each birds voice (male’s call, female’s response, warning sounds, sounds made while flying, etc.). I also like that the fact that I usually have my phone with me, so when I see an unfamiliar bird I can try identifying it while I still remember its distinct features.

    I got mine for free when it was featured as the Free App of the Day at Amazon. For a few hours more, Amazon’s free app today is Audubon Butterfly. Free is always nice.

    1. Thanks for the information…the bird songs are the BEST way to know they are about. As I hear familiar “voices”, I point them out to Katherine. Kids have listening skills that are very astute. They are able to learn languages better than adults so I hope the sound recognition takes a solid hold on her.
      Butterflies are another great interest! I’ll take a look. Appreciate your help!

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