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:


Tap the Magic Tree
Christie Matheson

This hands-on, interactive book takes the reader through an entire year in the life of a tree and the dynamically fascinating changes that go along with it. The tree can’t do it alone, though. It needs the help of the reader every step of the way. Tap, clap, and shake your way through a magical year in the life of a tree.


Bird Babies
Miller & Mayer

Growing up is a weird process involving lots of changes in size, shape, and color. And that’s just the birds. This book takes baby birds and shows what they will eventually grow into. It also uses the diversity in the bird community to showcase the various colors that can be found in the wild. Flamingos, chickens, cardinals, and Snowy Owls all feature in this book about growth and colors.


Gone-Away Lake
Elizabeth Enright

Portia and her cousin, Julian, always look forward to spending their summers together and the adventures that they encounter. On this particular summer though, they find themselves in Gone-Away Lake, an old summer retreat community that has been virtually untouched in decades. The two cousins quickly discover how nature has reclaimed the houses and the pools back to the overgrown wetland it once was. The cousins also run into the two people still living in the area and how they have learned to live with the local ecosystem instead of in spite of it.

For Adults:

Last Chance to See
Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine

Douglas Adams is probably best known for his Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy, but he was also a fierce animal rights advocate. Last Chance chronicles the trip around the world he took with zoologist Mark Carwardine in search of rare, exotic, and endangered species. The entire way, Adams lends his insightful and hilarious perspective. The intriguing part is that this trip took place over 30 years ago. Some of the stories started in this book have happy endings. Some are still being told.

Kids and Families
August/September 2019
Beginning Birder  |  Get Linked In

Map Reading 101

Saturday, September 7, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Oakdale Nature Preserve

Learn how to find your way around Oakdale Nature Preserve using a paper map.

Please note, there will be a large amount of walking. This event is for all ages, big and small!

Please meet at the main parking lot at Oakdale.

Call Richard Benning at 815-865-5279 for more information and to sign up.

Exploring Odonata and Other Flying Objects

Celebrating 20 years of Elkhorn Creek Biodiversity Preserve

August 2019

During this month, come out to Elkhorn Creek Biodiversity Preserve with the whole family to help us celebrate its 20th anniversary! While you’re there, maybe you will be able to spot one of over 135 species of birds located at the preserve. We have many seed-collecting days that are fun for kids! It will help you learn all about plants!

Celebrating 20 years of Elkhorn Creek Biodiversity Preserve

Beginning Birder

Hairy Woodpecker
Dryobates villosus

Hairy WoodpeckerNext time you are out in the woods, look and listen for the Hairy Woodpecker! It has a white breast and belly with black-and-white checkered wings. They have a black and white striped head, but the male will have a red spot. This bird looks a lot like the Downy Woodpecker, which we introduced to you a few years ago, but this one is bigger in size, with a bigger bill. If you are lucky, you might see both of them at your suet feeders at the same time to help you tell them apart!

Like other woodpeckers, the Hairy Woodpecker will climb up and down tree trunks, hammering its bill along the trunk searching for insects to eat or to feed their young. They also eat seeds, grains, nuts, and fruits. The woodpeckers may also drink sap that is dripping out from holes drilled by sapsuckers, birds similar to woodpeckers.

Fun Facts*

  • The movement made by woodpeckers is called hitching, which involves the birds making short leaps.
  • Woodpeckers do not get injured when they tap the tree trunk. They have very strong muscles in their head and neck. In addition, small feathers protect the nostrils of the bird and prevent particles from entering.
  • Hairy Woodpeckers pair for life. They take turns incubating their four eggs and caring for their young.

* Sources include and

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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

Late Summer into Fall

As we approach fall time, a fun activity you can do is to make leaf rubbings. All you need is a piece of paper, your favorite crayon, and a leaf.

First, go outside and retrieve a leaf off a nearby tree. Next, lay your leaf down on a flat surface and put the sheet of paper over it. If your crayon has a wrapper on it, peel it off. Then using the long side of the crayon, shade on the paper over the leaf. You’ll be surprised to see that you have just drawn the leaf you picked out!

As summer comes to an end and the weather cools off slightly, a fun thing to do with your family is to have a campfire and roast s’mores! To make s’mores around a campfire, all you need is graham crackers, chocolate, marshmallows, and a stick.

First, put your marshmallow on the end of the stick. Hold the marshmallow over the fire until it is cooked just how you like it. Then, put a piece of chocolate on a graham cracker, and use another graham cracker to sandwich the chocolate and the marshmallow in the middle. Enjoy!


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... >