Nature's Book Nook

Many of these books can be found on PrairieCat; many are available for as little as 1 cent or 99 cents from booksellers on Amazon (with $3.99 for postage and handling).

For Kids:


The Little Gardener
Kevin Henkes

This flipbook takes a beginning gardener through the steps of bringing flowers and produce out of the ground. From the tools needed, like a shovel and pail, to the roles that bees and compost play, this book lays out a simple plan for any first-time gardener. The last step presented is to save the seeds for next year because hopefully, this will only be the beginning for your little gardener.


Oh Say Can You Seed?
Bonnie Worth

This book is a guided tour of how seeds work and how much of the world around us is reliant on seeds’ working. Your tour guide is the one and only Cat in the Hat and in between the predicted rhyme and meter, everything from photosynthesis and pollen to cotyledon is defined and detailed with charts and illustrations. Thing 1 and Thing 2 even appear to provide a little extra explanation. Any fledgling green thumb can benefit from this whimsical yet scholarly presentation.


The Secret Garden
Frances Hodgson Burnett

“The Secret Garden” is a classic story that has been told in virtually every medium, but it never hurts to go back to the original piece and see where it all began. The beauty and joy that can come from tending a garden on not only an æsthetic front but also for one’s physical and emotional wellbeing is at the heart of this book. Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves and those around us is to introduce a little beauty into the world. As Mary, Dickon, Colin, and the rest of the characters of this story find out, if you take care of the environment around you, it will help take care of you.

For Adults:

The Good Food Revolution
Will Allen

In a growing number of neighborhoods, the only available food is from either convenience stores or fast food restaurants. These “food deserts” are disproportionately impacting the nutrition of low-income families. In the The Good Food Revolution, Allen explains how he took a dilapidated greenhouse and turned it into an urban farm in the heart of Milwaukee. From how to raise chicken, fish, and greens in the same self-sustaining hut to the utter necessity of worm castings, Allen takes what he has learned from farming and explains how he and his company have used it to tackle nutritional, social, and criminal justice concerns in the community.

Kids and Families
June/July 2019
Beginning Birder  |  Get Linked In

Exploring Odonata (Dragonflies & Damselflies) and Other Flying Objects

Saturday, June 22, 1 – 4:00 p.m.

Elkhorn Creek Biodiversity Preserve, Forreston, IL

Insect experts Cindy and John McKee will share their knowledge of dragonflies and damselflies as we stroll the preserve. They will gently capture, identify, and show us these marvelous flying insects. They will also likely share knowledge about butterflies and birds that cross our paths too.

Binoculars, sunscreen, insect repellent and water are suggested. This is a great family event.

Contact for more information.

Exploring Odonata and Other Flying Objects

“Kids and Grandparents” Morning

Thursday, July 11, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.

Mogle Center at Oakdale Nature Preserve

Kids and Grandparents Morning

This is a program designed to help grandparents and grandchildren experience the natural world together. Several activities will be offered promoting interaction in an outdoor setting. Activities will be most appropriate for grandchildren ages 6-11. Oakdale is three miles south of Freeport on Baileyville Road.

Please call Richard Benning (815-865-5279) to sign up for this event so it can be determined how many supplies are needed.

Elkhorn Creek Butterfly Festival

Saturday, July 27, 1 - 5:00 p.m.

Elkhorn Creek Butterfly Festival

Join us for a fun, informative family friendly afternoon as we explore the Elkhorn Creek Biodiversity Preserve for the more than 34 species of butterflies that are found there.

There will be tours every hour between 1 and 5 p.m., with the last tour at 4 p.m. Free “Illinois Butterflies and Moths” pocket guides will be distributed while supplies last. There will be a shady rest area, bathroom, cold beverages, snacks, and information about pollinators.

The preserve is located about 3 miles southwest of Forreston in the southeast corner of West Grove and Freeport Rds. The parking lot is off of West Grove Rd. This event is free and open to the public. We hope to see you there!

If the weather is questionable, call Mary Blackmore at 815-938-3204 before 10 a.m. on July 27.

Beginning Birder

Baltimore Oriole
Icterus galbula

Baltimore Oriole Have you been enjoying the calls of spring from your backyard birds? Tune in to this bird, the Baltimore Oriole. This bird will fill up your treetops with beautiful whistling calls.

To easily attract the Baltimore Oriole, all you need is a hummingbird feeder or a brightly colored fruit that is just as sweet and colorful as they are: oranges! You can hang oranges on your tree branches or trunks, or set them on your porch or feeder with grape jelly. If you look up high in the treetops in open woodlands, you will spot the male bird with his bright orange chest and belly, with his head all dipped in black.

Cool Facts*

  • These birds enjoy dark colored fruits such as red cherries, the darkest mulberries, and a deep purple grape. They will not eat any other fruit that is ripe and a bright color such as green grapes or yellow cherries.
  • A neat way that these birds eat their fruit is called gaping. This is when they will stab the fruit with their beaks and the juice is consumed by their brushy tipped tongues.
  • If you want to attract these birds from your gardens, plant fruit trees, other fruit-bearing plants, or nectar-bearing flowers, such as raspberries, crabapples, and trumpet vines.

* Sources include

Get Linked In

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

Get Outside!

A fun adventure to go on with friends or family is to take a bike ride! Go for a ride in a park, around the neighborhood, or on a bike path nearby. Bike rides are a good way to have fun with friends and family outside while getting a little exercise!

Take a family trip out to Elkhorn Creek Biodiversity Preserve on July 27 between 1 - 5 p.m. to join us at our annual butterfly festival! At this festival, participants can join guides on butterfly tours, or look for butterflies on their own.

One fun activity to do in order to cool down this summer is to make popsicles! All you will need is a container (either small cups, an ice cube tray, or a popsicle tray), your favorite juice, and popsicle sticks. Pour your juice into your container of choice, then put your container safely into the freezer. Keep an eye on your popsicle, and when the juice is half frozen, stick the popsicle stick in until frozen completely. Take your popsicle out of the freezer and container, then enjoy with friends and family outside!


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.


Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023
Program: Hidden Prairie: Photographing Life in One Square Meter... >

Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023
Christmas Bird Count... >

Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023
Beginning Birder Club- Bird Movement - REGISTRATION CLOSED - Contact for waitlist... >

Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024
Program: Birds and Beauty in Arizona... >