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:


If You Were a Bear
Rachel Mazur

This educational and adorable book asks the child what it would be like to be a bear – with paws instead of hands, eating acorns and ants, and sleeping through the winter. This book can start teaching children about wild animals and how to be keep them wild in coexistence with humans.


National Geographic Readers: Bears

This book will inspire young readers to learn about different kids of bears, where they live, and how they behave. It contains accurate scientific facts and is highly educational, so it can help build vocabulary of the young scientists. It is also full of beautiful photographs and images that are appealing to many ages.


The Everywhere Bear (The Nature Club Book 3)
Rachel Mazur

This is the third book of the Nature Club series and focuses on the relationship between humans and wildlife. The teens in the nature club have been observing animals in their community rummaging through trash at night. After further investigation of scat, tracks, and the help of a wildlife biologist, they learned that bears and raccoons have been moving into human areas. This book provides a good lesson in how humans can protect and live together with local wildlife without causing harm.

For Adults:

Speaking of Bears: The Bear Crisis and a Tale of Rewilding from Yosemite, Sequoia, and Other National Parks
Rachel Mazur, Ph.D.

This author is also known for her children and young adult books (recommended above), but also writes non-fiction books. Her experience with bears and passion to protect them is evident in all of her books. In this adult book, she uses interviews of more than 100 individuals to show the history of the human-bear interactions that have occurred in these parks. She also shows that when humans take the time to use research, teamwork, and new technologies, humans and wildlife can coexist.

Kids and Families
December 2020/January 2021
Beginning Birder  |  Get Linked In

No Kids and Families event for December or January

"To appreciate the beauty of a snowflake, it is necessary to stand out in the cold." — Aristotle

Kids outside in snowflakes

Beginning Birder

Dark-eyed Junco
(Junco hyemalis)

Dark-eyed JuncoThe Dark-eyed Junco is a wintering visitor from the north. Most breed in Canada and Alaska but migrate to the lower 48 states and parts of Mexico during winter while others live year-round in the western part of the United States. For these “snowbirds,” these areas are warmer for them (even though you might disagree!) and food is more available.

The Dark-eyed Junco belongs to the sparrow family, but has a very different appearance than most brown sparrows. The Dark-eyed Junco is a small bird, with a gray upper side and a white underside, and white outer tail feathers. As their name tells you, they have black eyes, as well as a pink bill. Their dark bodies are very striking in the white snow.

Dark-eyed Juncos are primarily granivores, which means they eat seeds, such as those from native grasses. During breeding time and feeding their offspring, they will choose high-protein insects. They are commonly found hopping and feeding on the ground under bird feeders, eating small seeds and millet rather than sunflower seeds.

Fun Fact*

Say hi to these birds when they visit this winter. Come spring, they will return north to breed and start their new families.

* Thanks to

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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


Explore for animal tracks and scat!

Even though we may not see them, there are a lot of ways to know that an animal has been around. First, plan your adventure. With the help of an adult, find an animal track and scat worksheet or book that is useful for identifying and comparing to what you might find.

Then, go exploring! It is often easier to start your adventure after a fresh snow. Start in your backyard first, and identify the tracks of squirrels, rabbits, birds, and even your own pets. After practice, and with an adult, go to a nearby nature preserve.

Look for animal tracks and figure out what animal made them? Are they small or large? Are they close by to each other or spread out? This might tell you if they were walking or running – the further they are, the faster the animal was traveling. Do you see finger-shapes or paw-shapes? How many digits do you see? Can you tell if it was made by a bird or a mammal?

Look around for animal scat, which are the droppings of an animal. They vary considerably in size, shape, and texture. Herbivore scat might contain plant material and appear green in color. Carnivore scat might contain fur or bones. Omnivore scat might contain plant material or animal material. While owl pellets are not scat, but regurgitated remains of their last meal, they are evidence that owls are in the area.

When done with exploring, check out the tracks that you left behind!

Family walking in snow


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.

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