Get them hooked on birds young — so they buy books later!

Well, at least that’s what a self-serving bird book publicist might say.

A friend forwarded an announcement for the new My Bird World app for iPad. It costs 4.99 and features interactive games that help children (or even novice adult birders) learn basic information about hummingbirds, American goldfinches, sandpipers, and 21 other birds. The app was created using data, photos, and sounds from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology which is the leading birding research facility in the States so you know the content is spot-on. I downloaded it last night and managed to unlock two birds by matching trivia and speed-feeding the right foods to the right birds.

My Bird World is a fun way to engage younger birders and the perfect gateway into the world of birding (and hopefully to the broader natural world, too). For kids intrigued by the game, the perfect next step will be a good identification guide that is also built around the way kids learn. The Crossley ID Guide with its layered photo plates appeals to younger readers comfortable in a photo-shopped world and provides them with just enough information to spur their own observations of unlabeled birds in the book. At the events I’ve attended with Richard Crossley, children are almost universally interested in this book — drawn to its highly visual layout and the “Where’s Waldo”-esque tiny birds in the background.

So a thumb’s up for My Bird World and its attempt to get a younger audience engaged in bird watching.

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