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:


Mrs. Peanuckle’s Bug Alphabet
by Mrs. Peanuckle

Mrs. Peanuckle’s Bug Alphabet is a great way to introduce babies and young toddlers to bugs. Starting children off at a young age will hopefully lead to less fear and more appreciation of the insect world later in life. It is a great way to reinforce the alphabet while also learning common insects from ant to zorapteran!


Little Ant and the Butterfly
by S.M.R. Saia

This book shares a story about an ant meeting a caterpillar – someone quite different from himself. Unfortunately, the ant is judgmental and very unkind at the beginning. This book provides an opportunity to discuss with your child about accepting differences in others, how to behave with good manners, and how we should not judge others by their appearances.


The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian's Art Changed Science
by Joyce Sidman

This nonfiction biography introduces the reader to one of the first female entomologists, Maria Sibylla Merian. The book has gorgeous illustrations of the life cycle of butterflies drawn by Maria herself, which was not understood or believed to occur at the time of her life. In a male-dominated field, Maria broke barriers in her day, but joins other influential women in science fields. This book is highly educational and hopefully inspires more young women to follow her footsteps.


For Love of Insects
by Thomas Eisner

This fascinating book celebrates insects – the most successful species on the planet. The reader will learn about the diverse insect world and learn about the remarkable adaptations that these creatures use to survive, attract mates, for defense, and for cooperative work. The book contains beautiful photographs and illustrations that will make you feel like becoming an entomologist in your own world.

Kids and Families
June/July 2022
Beginning Birder  |  Get Linked In

June and July events throughout Freeport and surrounding areas!

Navigating in the Wild
Saturday, June 18
10:00 am – 11:00 am
Newell Tract, Oakdale Nature Preserve, 4433 S. Cranes Grove Rd., Freeport, IL
Coordinator: Adam Moderow

Learn navigation strategies as we explore Oakdale Nature Preserve! Meet in the shelter/parking area of the Newell Tract (the part of Oakdale on the west side of Crane’s Grove Rd.)

To register, contact Adam at 815-541-5842 or by email at

Native Prairie Walk
Saturday, July 16, 2022
10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Newell Tract, Oakdale Nature Preserve, 4433 S. Cranes Grove Rd., Freeport, IL

Learn about the diverse native plant species as we explore the prairie preserve at Oakdale. Meet in the shelter/parking area of the Newell Tract (the part of Oakdale on the west side of Crane’s Grove Rd.)

To register, contact Adam at 815-541-5842 or by email at

Elkhorn Creek Butterfly Festival
Saturday, July 30
1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Elkhorn Creek Biodiversity Preserve, Forreston, IL

Join us for a fun, informative family friendly afternoon as we explore the Elkhorn Creek Biodiversity Preserve for the many butterflies that are found there, such as Buckeye, Great Fritillary, and Monarch butterflies. From 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. participants may join guided butterfly tours or look on their own for those winged beauties. Tours will begin at 1:00, 2:00, 3:00 and 4:00 p.m. “Illinois Butterflies and Moths” pocket guides will be distributed at no charge while supplies last. We’ll have a shady rest area with chairs, as well as a restroom, cold beverages, snacks and information about pollinators.

If the weather is questionable, call Mary Blackmore at 815-938-3204 no later than 10 a.m. on July 30. The preserve is located about 3 miles southwest of Forreston, IL in the southeast corner of West Grove and Freeport Roads. The parking lot is off of West Grove Rd.

Beginning Birder

Brown Creeper
(Certhia americana)

Brown Creeper The Brown Creeper is a tiny bird that lives in woodland areas. You can find this bird around Krape Park or Oakdale Nature Preserve. Their name matches their behavior – they tend to creep up and down the tree trunks looking for insects! So, if you are trying to find them, look for them zigzagging upward along the trunk. But take your time and look carefully! They have excellent camouflage and are hard to find if they are not moving! You can also learn their song and listen for them so you know exactly where to look.

Brown Creepers have small bodies, a long tail, and a downcurved bill that is perfect for searching for insects in the cracks of tree bark. Their brown streaked feathers provide camouflage, but they have a white belly that is often hidden when up against a tree. They tend to start at the bottom of a tree when looking for insects, crawling their way upward before flying down on the same tree or another tree.

* Thanks to

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


Family Activity

Go insect hunting!

Insects are the most successful animals on the planet. They are amazing! They are the first organisms to fly! They can buzz! They can jump! They can sting! They have beautiful colors! Some even light up!

Learn about these creatures in your own backyard. To attract them, put something like banana out in an area outside. Spread the banana on a rock or bark of a tree for a short period of time. Check it regularly and see who has visited. With an adult, go out at night with a flashlight to see if there are different insects at nighttime.

Carefully catch an insect and look at it with a magnifying glass. (ask an adult first – some insects and spiders do bite or sting.) How many legs do you count? If you count six legs, three body regions, and two antennae – it is an insect. If you count eight legs, two body regions, and no antennae, it is likely a spider, which is not an insect! If there are too many legs to count, it could be a millipede or centipede!

If you want to watch an insect for a short period of time, place it in a jar with some sticks, leaves, and a little cap of water. Cover with a net or waxed paper with holes poked through. Return the insect back home within 24 hours or less!

Learn that insects are not here to harm you and you should not harm them. Teach others not to use pesticides in their lawns, not to use bug zappers, and also to turn off unnecessary lights at night. All of these kill, hurt, or confuse insects. Insects are important for the ecosystem and without them, we would also be harmed.


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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