When my son was a baby, he had an ear infection almost non-stop from the time he was six months old until just before he had tubes put in his ears six months later. Needless to say, we spent a lot of time at the pediatrician’s office. There were always stacks of picture books in the waiting room, and one day, A House is a House for Me (Viking, 1978), by Mary Ann Hoberman was on top of the pile, just waiting for us. It quickly became one of our favorites.
Now Jane Yolen, Heidi E.Y. Stemple, and Melissa Sweet have teamed up to create a book about homes that is every bit as wonderful as Hoberman’s classic. You Nest Here With Me (Boyds Mills Press, 2015) begins with a “little nestling,” carrying a copy of You Nest Here With Me being flown into bed by her mother. As the poem unfolds, we learn that “Pigeons nest on concrete ledges” while “Catbirds nest in greening hedges” but the mother always assures the child that “you nest here with me.”
Song birds, shore birds, birds of prey, and more are introduced through the gentle rhymes of Yolen and Stemple’s text. Readers will want to linger over Sweet’s inviting watercolor and collage illustrations. An author’s note explains that David Stemple, Jane’s late husband and Heidi’s father, was a “serious bird watcher.” This dedication clearly rubbed off, for their love of birds is present on every page.
Factual information about all the birds in the book is included, and there is a scavenger hunt of sorts included in the illustrations. Four kinds of birds are depicted in cozy nests, but not mentioned in the text. Children will have fun finding these favorite species tucked in with other familiar and some unfamiliar birds.
I would read this to Kindergarten and first grade students, but most of all I would love to share it with a toddler or preschooler nestled on my lap.
Thank you to Stacey, Tara, Dana, Betsy, Anna, and Beth for this space for teachers and others to share their stories each day during the month of March and on Tuesdays throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.