Nature's Book Nook

Many of these books can be obtained through Freeport Public Library or any northwest Illinois library that has PrairieCat – or purchased through Amazon booksellers for a low price, from 1¢ to $3 or $4, plus $3.99 shipping and handling.

For Kids:

Rachel and Sammy Learn About Trees by Jannifer Powelson
This is the third book in the Rachel Raccoon and Sammy Skunk series of nature books. Here Rachel and Sammy, with their teacher Doc Opossum, take a field trip to the forest, where they discover all kinds of interesting tree facts. This can be adapted for preschoolers by reading the basic facts with the photographs and then add more through the elementary years with tree identification, parts of trees, importance of trees, photosynthesis, and more.

Apples for Everyone by Jill Erbaum (For 4- to 8-year olds)
This book celebrates the sights, smells and sensations of autumn with sensory detail, such as “tart-sweet juice dribbles down your chin.” National Geographic photographs.

How Do Apples Grow? by Betsy Maestro (For grades 1-3, level 2 reading)
Straightforward, carefully detailed presentation of how fruit comes from flowers. Clear, attractive illustrations.

For Adults:

Blue Mountain Frog by Ralph Waldo Emerson
How we can find awe and delight in the natural world – or, as Emerson says, “to see the miraculous in the common.”

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Charles Bowden and Jack Dylinka
This has been called one of the finest books on ecology in this decade. For many years Bowden and Kylinka hiked this mountain in the Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson. They contrast the majesty and beauty of Frog Mountain (named by the Tohono O'odham) with the recreational facilities, the resorts and housing development creeping up the mountains and into the canyons. The book graphically illustrates “the capacity of society to whittle away a whole mountain in pursuit of a 'better life.'”

Kids and Families
October/November 2014
Beginning Birder  |  Get Linked In

Sand Bluff to Offer Owl Nights

Your best chance to see a Northern Saw-Whet Owl may be to participate in one of Sand Bluff Bird Observatory’s Owl Nights this October. Reservations are required for either Saturday, October 18 or Friday, October 24 at Sand Bluff near Shirland in Winnebago county. Each event begins at 7 p.m. While catching owls is never guaranteed, it would be a rare opportunity to hold, photograph and release one after banding. A minimum of 10 and maximum of 25 participants is required for each evening. A $25 donation per person is requested. Contact Steve Reischel for details and reservations at 608-882-6703.

Beginning Birder

Northern Saw-whet Owl
Aegolius acadicus

This tiny owl with a catlike face, oversized head, and bright yellow eyes is practically bursting with attitude and makes a great bird to study for October, the month of Halloween!

Northern Saw-whet Owl: Rick and Nora Bowers/VIREO, Courtesy of

These owls are highly nocturnal and are seldom seem but their high-pitched “too-too-too” call is a common evening sound.

  • Project Owlnet is a collaboration that consists of more than 100 owl migration banding sites. Researchers use the “too-too-too” call to lure owls into mist nets, and band thousands of saw-whets every fall (see "Sand Bluff Owl Nights," above).
  • These owls eat mostly small mammals, hunting them at night from a low perch along the forest edge.
  • The Northern Saw-whet Owl may have been named for giving a call that sounds like a saw being sharpened on a whetting stone.
  • When this owl is threatened, they can elongate their body in order to appear like a tree branch, often bringing one wing around to the front of their body.
  • A group of owls has many collective nouns, including a “bazaar,” “glaring,” “parliament,” “stooping,” and “wisdom” of owls.
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Children, Nature and You Resources to help you give the children you influence the awe and wonder that only the natural world can inspire

Freeport Park District Information on all the Freeport parks

Freeport Public Library More than books on a shelf...visit the Freeport Public Library

Freeport Outdoor Experience Events located in Freeport and Stephenson County

Getting Kids Involved (The Cornell Lab of Ornithology) Includes bird information, tips, and more for kids and families

Jane Addams Recreation Trail Ride or Hike the beautiful Jane Addams Trail

Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots A program of the Jane Goodall Institute offering a variety of programs and resources

NASA Climate Kids to tell the story of our changing planet through the eyes of NASA missions studying Earth and provides games, activities, and articles that make climate science accessible and engaging for children

National Audubon for Kids provides resources for classroom curriculum, DIY activities, and bird activities for children at home

National Wildlife Federation Many family-friendly articles; Ranger Rick family magazine

Resource Guide Supplement to Last Child in the Woods Designed for parents, teachers, and community leaders to help them encourage children’s enjoyment of the great outdoors.

Severson Dells Nature Center Located near Rockford, IL.

Sierra Club Outdoors The program's goal is to give every child in America an outdoor experience.

World Migratory Bird Day Learn about the importance of migratory birds and how to celebrate birds any day of the year!

Family Activity

Getting to Know Apples

Have several kinds of apples; cut one piece from each apple for each child; ask them to describe the taste, to compare and contrast one kind to another.

Cut one apple. Have the child feel the skin and talk about its smoothness; then feel the white “meat” of the apple and describe.

Cut one apple horizontally. Can everyone see the star shape?

Guess how many seeds are in the apple. Cut another apple; count the seeds.

Talk about the life cycle of an apple – a book or poster can be helpful, or simply cut pictures of each stage. The books listed in the “Book Nook” illustrate this.

Put the apple slices that you have cut into a bowl, add water, and microwave until they are mushy. Add a little cinnamon and sugar and taste. How do the cooked apples feel? How do they taste?

List the foods that can be made from apples.

Autumn Grab Bag

Put several fall items into a paper sack – an apple, an acorn, an oak leaf, a maple leaf, a pine cone, a walnut, some pine needles, a squash, a gourd, a fall flower – a small pumpkin if you have a big sack. Have the child reach in the bag and touch one object, then guess what he thinks it is. Is it rough or smooth, prickly, crinkly? Take out the objects and compare and contrast how they feel, their size, the smell, the colors. Show the difference between an oak leaf and a maple, or any other leaves you choose.

Put the same items, or other fall items you choose, on a tray; have everyone look closely, take the tray away, and have the kids name the items on the tray.


and Events

Check out our full calendar of activities, events, and educational opportunities. You're sure to find something to interest you. Please join us!

Events include:

  • Monthly educational programs and issues discussions
  • Local bird walks
  • Field trips
  • Preserve work days

For more details, see the current newsletter.


Friday, Sep. 29, 2023
September 29 Birdseed Sale Order Deadline!... >

Friday, Sep. 29, 2023
Full Moon Campfire at Silver Creek Biodiversity Preserve... >

Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023
Program: Update from Illinois Evironmental Council, 2023 Annual Report... >

Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023
Field Trip: Maquoketa Caves State Park... >