I am always on the look out for stories on a natural history theme to use in the classroom, so was really pleased to receive the second in this series; this informative story about a swift's epic migration from Bath to Africa and back.
Written by John Miles with beautiful illustrations by Barry Robson, the book tells the story of a 'Screamer' , a swift hatched inside one of the buildings of the Royal Crescent, Bath.
A story is often a brilliant way to engage children with a natural history topic and this book has lots of scope for that. Not only does it introduce the swift to children, but also tells of the birds' life cycle and way of life in an easy to understand and engaging way.
The life cycle and migration are presented in a straight forward way, starting in a familiar setting, introducing this amazing bird to children. From hatch to migration, the incredible feats of this tiny bird are described and the importance of suitable nesting sites is highlighted clearly.
I would definitely use this book in school, as I could pull out lots of learning opportunities, including life cycles and adaptation as well as introducing children to a bird they are unlikely to be familiar with. The geography contexts are an obvious link and plotting the swifts' migration routes would be fascinating, especially compared to other birds. The conservation message is important too and this would provide lots of scope for children to investigate further. There are references in the book to swift bricks and the increasing need for new houses to provide suitable nesting spaces for swifts. This fits in really well with life cycle and conservation elements of the primary curriculum.
I shared this book with a number of children, including my Wildlife Club. Only one of the children (a very keen ornithologist!) knew what a swift was. This book was an excellent way of introducing an unfamiliar British species to them and helping them learn about the importance of doing what we can to conserve this fragile species.
Screamer the Swift is now available on Amazon… if you have a young naturalist in your family or you are a primary teacher, it might be just what you are looking for!