Why Birds Sing Book Club Guide

Why Birds Sing Book Club Guide

Are you part of a book club or are you looking to start one? Why Birds Sing by Nina Berkhout makes a great book club pick!

Why Birds Sing is a charming, deeply felt novel about a disgraced opera singer, her brother-in-law with cancer, a temperamental parrot named Tulip, and a competitive whistling group called the Warblers. Ultimately, it is about human connection and finding music between the notes.

Book Club Questions


  1. Academic Temple Grandin says animals make us more human. What does Tulip bring out in Dawn? In Tariq?
  2. Which Warbler has the greatest impact on Dawn? What do they each have to teach her? Which of the Warblers did you like best?
  3. Dawn’s relationship with Mina also evolves throughout the novel. Can you identify a turning point? What might they have in common?
  4. Were you frustrated the Warblers never got to compete? How does the cancellation of the competition relate to the other themes of the book?
  5. When she’s first teaching lessons, Dawn insists to Tariq that people’s stories have nothing to do with making music. How is she proven wrong?
  6. At the beginning of the book, Dawn values work, success, and acclaim. By the end, what are her new values?
  7. Cherry, who gets treatment with Tariq, only appears once in the story. Why do you think the author made that choice?
  8. Mina’s rug is made valuable because of its flaw. How is that idea reflected in the story?
  9. “With the right one you wouldn’t’ve waited,” Walt says to Dawn about having kids. How did you respond to that?
  10. Did you think Tariq was going to make it? Why?
  11. Tariq and Dawn fall in love without so much as a kiss. What does this say about the nature of love?
  12. How do you feel about opera? Did Why Birds Sing change your impression of it at all? How is the novel like an opera itself?

Download the complete Why Birds Sing Book Club Guide here.

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