Harris Center Reads: Squirrels

November 1, 2020
A gray squirrel pauses in autumn light. (photo © Jacob McGinnis via the Flickr Creative Commons)

Everyday Squirrels

Welcome to Harris Center Reads — a monthly, curated list of good reads for curious naturalists of all ages! Squirrels: we see them so often we barely pay attention to them, and when we do, it’s usually because they’ve eaten all the birdseed. But what if we viewed them the way we view bobcats or owls? Squirrels are bold survivalists — hoarding seeds, outwitting predators, and finding a variety of ways to stay alive during the coldest months. So, this fall and winter, shut off your screens for a while and try watching squirrels instead. Let them surprise, delight, and entertain you. With these reading suggestions, you might just see squirrels in a whole new light….

For Adults

Squirrels: The Animal Answer Guide by Richard W. Thorington Jr. and Katie Ferrell. Filled with fascinating facts, detailed descriptions, and information on the ecological importance of squirrels, this book by two Smithsonian Institution mammalogists will answer any questions you might have about squirrels around the world.

A Walk Around the Block: Stoplight Secrets, Michievous Squirrels, Manhole Mysteries & Other Stuff You See Everday (And Know Nothing About) by Spike Carlsen. In this fun exploration of the “mundane,” journalist Spike Carlsen shines a bright and curious light on things we see in our everyday world — including, but not limited to, squirrels.

Nuts About Squirrels: The Rodents That Conquered Popular Culture by Don Corrigan. This fascinating book traces the evolution of squirrels in popular culture from ancient times to modern media, including cozy children’s books, plucky cartoons, and even the silver screen.

Picture Books for Kids

Those Darn Squirrels! by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri. Follow Bald Fookwire’s transformation from an old curmudgeon who hates squirrels into something altogether different. If your family has ever had your birdfeeder raided by squirrels, this hilarious read-a-loud will make your day.

Squirrels Leap, Squirrels Sleep by April Pulley Sayre and Steve Jenkins. This wonderful non-fiction book — filled with accurate information, beautiful art, clear text, and sweet rhymes — is a favorite among the Harris Center’s teaching staff.

The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin by Beatrix Potter. A classic by famed English author-illustator Beatrix Potter. Reading this enchanting “tale about a tail” will make you want to gather nuts and then curl up just like a little squirrel.

For Middle School Readers

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale. A superhero who can climb, leap, and fight like a squirrel? Yes! Fourteen-year-old Squirrel Girl speaks squirrel, gathers an army of rodents, and protects the universe from villains out to destroy our very existence. A must-read for comic book fans who love a feisty fighter.

A Game of Fox and Squirrels by Jenn Reese. A fantasy novel about two sisters who escape from a family tragedy into the realm of a magical game. A quest to find a golden acorn, an untrustworthy fox, and a bunch of whimsical squirrels make this a unique and compelling read.

Where to Find These Books

BUY. We’d like to give a special shout-out to our local bookseller, Toadstool Bookshops in Keene and Peterborough! They’re open for in-person shopping, and they also sell online.

BORROW. In addition, many local libraries have re-opened and/or are offering curbside pickup, as well as a wide variety of eBooks and other digital options. Check with your town library for more information.