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:


Treemendous: Diary of a Not Yet Mighty Oak
by Bridget Heos

This board book is a great way to introduce your child to the wonderful oak tree. It follows a visual diary written by a young acorn and follows it as it grows up to become an oak tree like its family members in the forest. The illustrations are adorable and inviting to a young preschooler.


As an Oak Tree Grows
by G. Brian Karas

This beautifully illustrated and poetic book goes through a history of an oak tree as it watches the ecosystem change around it because of human interaction. Although bittersweet at times, it provides a great historical reference of human progression as well as ecological perspective of changing seasons and climate change. It also might inspire someone to plant an oak tree after reading it.


Ultimate Explorer Field Guide: Trees
by Patricia Daniels

This National Geographic Kids book is full of information, photographs, and exploration activities to encourage exploration and learning about trees. With over 150 pages, the book covers many different types of trees found in North America. This is a good field guide to add to a book collection for a budding naturalist or anyone curious about nature.

For Adults:

The Nature of Oaks
by Douglas W. Tallamy

This book, with the subtitle, "The Rich Ecology of our Most Essential Native Trees" walks through the author's monthly phenology journal of an oak tree ecosystem. The author gives personal observation, ecological facts, and descriptions of the vital importance of oak trees to many organisms in the forest. The book allows the reader to enjoy the journey as if they are surrounded by oak trees themselves. In fact, it will make you want to plant hundreds of oak trees upon reading this book.

Kids and Families
October - November 2021
Beginning Birder  |  Get Linked In

October and November events throughout Freeport!

Field Trip: OAKtober in Oakdale
Saturday, October 23, 2021 from 9 – 10 a.m.
Oakdale Nature Preserve, 4433 S. Cranes Grove Road
Freeport, IL 61032
Coordinator: Adam Moderow
Join an OAKtober hike through Oakdale to learn about oak trees and their important roles in an ecosystem.

OAKtober in Oakdale

Field Trip: Our Decomposing World
Saturday, November 13, 2021 from 10 – 11 a.m.
Oakdale Nature Preserve, 4433 S. Cranes Grove Road
Freeport, IL 61032
Coordinator: Adam Moderow
Autumn is the perfect time to learn about the decomposition around you and how life and death cycle through an ecosystem. Dress warmly and be prepared to get your hands dirty.

Our Decomposing World

To register for either of these events, contact Adam at 815-541-5842 or by email at We anticipate not needing masks but please have one with you should guidelines change.

Beginning Birder

Black-capped Chickadee
(Poecile atricapillus)

Black-capped Chickadee The small Black-capped Chickadee is a resident bird and often a favorite of backyard bird watchers. They are common throughout the year and a common visitor to bird feeders in the winter, especially if suet, sunflower, peanuts, and millet are there. They are curious birds and may even feed off of your hand if you are lucky!

Both male and female have a black cap, black bib, white cheeks, and gray back, wings, and tail. You can often hear the chickadee before you see it, with its distinctive "fee-bee" or "chickadee-dee-dee" call.

Chickadees are typically found in deciduous forest areas and are cavity nesters, which is why it is beneficial to allow dead trees to remain for habitat. Both male and female excavate the nest hollow and the female will build the nest, often using soft moss and rabbit fur to line the nest. Outside of winter, they are primarily insectivores, relying on insect protein to feed their young as well.


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


Fall is an excellent time to learn about deciduous trees, such as oak trees and maple trees. A good activity for the family is to learn about the life cycle of an oak tree. Find an oak forest and start exploring and observing.

During autumn, deciduous trees start to lose their leaves, preparing for the dormant period of winter. Spend a few minutes underneath the trees and wait for some leaves and acorns to fall (watch out!). They are falling because now is the time for the seed to land on the ground and become covered by snow. The seeds will overwinter and upon spring, the little plant will emerge from the seed ready to become a mighty oak someday.

Examine an acorn for herbivore activity by looking for small holes. The acorn may have a tiny insect larvae inside, using the seed for nutrients. Or, watch squirrels scurry around, collecting acorns, also relying on the seed for food.

Also examine the leaves for herbivore activity. You may notice small bumps called galls, which the plant produces in response to insect larvae. Also take notice of the color change within the leaf – the green chlorophyll has likely disappeared, leaving red, orange, or yellow pigments to remain.

Finally, lay down in the bed of leaves and make a “leaf angel” similar to a snow angel in the winter! Using your senses, listen to the crunching sounds of the leaves and smell the scents of autumn.


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... >

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