Bison Bonanza!

A few years ago, I posted a blog about the introduction of bison at the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, just south of Elwood on Route 53. These amazing animals fascinate me, so with that in mind, I decided to feature them again with the upcoming Bison Crawl on November 2nd, presented by the Forest Preserve District of Will County.

The Forest Preserve District of Will County is hosting this event for you to learn more about these majestic animals on National Bison Day, November 2nd.
Information about local events happening for National Bison Day can be found at
the Forest Preserve of Will County website.

Some facts about the importance of this special day can be found at National Today:

A small herd of bison was introduced to the Midewin Prairie in October of 2015. Part of the day’s festivities take will also take place there. To read about the Midewin herd, visit the USDA Forest Service website:

Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

The history of the massive bison herds that once roamed the Great Plains is an important part of our past. Conservation efforts to bring back this animal from near extinction will be discussed at the Forest Preserve and National Prairie presentations. You might even be lucky enough to see the herd if you visit the Iron Bridge Trailhead. More information can be found at the Midewin website or at their Visitor’s center. Here are just a few of the books available at the library if you’d like a head start on learning about bison before you head out to the activities:

If you’re interested in doing further research (about bison or any other subject area), the library has databases available in Homework Help. When you scroll down the page, you will find Scholastic Go! which can be a great aid for school projects. This link will take you to more bison articles.

I hope this will inspire you to learn more about our national mammal and conservation efforts throughout the country to restore the bison to their home on the range.

An Apple a Day….

As summer comes to an end and fall is in the air, thoughts turn to things like pumpkins and corn mazes…but let’s not forget about apple picking and apple cider, especially with Johnny Appleseed’s birthday on September 26th! This enjoyable weather is a perfect time to experience the great outdoors with a family adventure.  Below are the links for a few orchards worth the trip!

Apples on Oak is a small orchard just a few miles down the road in Homer Township if you’re looking just to pick some great local varieties.

County Line Orchard is located about an hour east of New Lenox in Hobart, Indiana. Even though this is a little farther away, there are plenty of family fun activities to enjoy.

To the northwest, a little over an hour’s drive in Maple Park, is Kuiper’s Family Farm. This orchard also offers many family friendly activities to make it worth the trip, and I hear they have fantastic apple cider donuts!


What to do with all those apples when you get home?  Parents Magazine has some fun as well as tasty ideas in this article:

The blog Little Bins for Little Hands has ideas for science and STEM activities to try:

Here are a few of our many apple books in the library, some with recipes!

   Apples to Oregon by Deborah Hopkinson                          E HOP

  The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree                      by Gail Gibbons  E GIB

 How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World       by Marjorie Priceman  E PRI

  Apples  by Shawndra Shofner                                      J 634.11 SHO

Stop in and see our many other books and resources we have to learn more about apples, fall, and the changing seasons.  And if you’re looking for other outdoor fall experiences, visit the Will County Forest Preserve website for more ways to enjoy the outdoors.

Happy Fall!



Wildlife and Wildflowers…Nature Nearby

As you may have noticed, I have a tendency to write about special days or holidays each month.  It’s enjoyable to look for little (and big) things to celebrate while maybe learning a fun fact or two along the way.  While I have already listed a few things about August, I just read that August is also National Parks Month.  You can check out the National Parks website  to see what parks are located near us in Illinois.  national park service

Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie is actually listed with the National Forest Service, but has much to offer, just a few miles south of Elwood.
midewinLast year, bison were introduced to this park and can sometimes be spotted as you drive by. However, they love to roam, as the old song states, so you may need to find a trail and have your binoculars handy. Actually, it’s “oh give me a home, where the buffalo roam…” (are you humming it right now??) This fact sheet, provided by the Forest Service, will help you learn the difference between bison and buffalo:


Several baby bison were born earlier this summer. Stop in at the visitors’ center to find out more about them, as well as other features, trails, programs and volunteer opportunities at this park. Here are some books we have available in the nonfiction section for basic bison information:


970.004 Region Plains


   J 599.643 ROB

    J 599.643 PER

    J 599.643 GEO

Perhaps you’d like to learn more about prairies.  Visit the Illinois Department of Natural Resources:


or stop by to pick up these books and others before you visit the prairie:

J 577.44 MIL

 J 583.73 ROO

 J 635.95178 COL

Find flora, fauna, and facts galore as you explore the prairie ecosystem!

To be continued……

Wildlife and Wildflowers….Nature Nearby continued…

Remembering that it’s National Parks Month (the National Park Service is celebrating it’s 100th birthday on August 25th), and that there aren’t too many national parks nearby, there are several wonderful state parks and trails that offer plenty of opportunities to enjoy nature with hiking, biking, and just being outdoors.  Here are a few more wildlife and wildflower settings that are relatively close to us:

Starved Rock State Park  is about an hour west of New Lenox. Starved Rock has an interesting history along with beautiful geological formations featured on the many hiking trails.


From the East (via Ottawa):
I-80 W to IL Rt. 23 S (exit 90) to IL Rt. 71 W

From the East (Bypassing IL Rt. 178 at Utica):
Continue on I-80 W to I-39 S (Exit 79A) to IL 71 E

Be sure to visit the Starved Rock Kids’ Corner for more information and fun activities to prep for your outing.

starvedrock kids page

The historical I & M Canal  is also in our area. The actual canal starts at the Chicago River and runs close to 100 miles, ending at LaSalle. Access near us would be in Rockdale, Channahon, or Morris. You can step back in time to see how travel along the towpath was conducted in the mid-1800’s. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources highlights some of the state parks and historical sites along the towpath trail.

illinois dnr i& m canal

As always, we have books for you to learn more about these sites and their history in the 977’s of our non-fiction section area:

 J 917.3 FLY  National Parks Guide U.S.A.

J 977.3 MAR   What’s Great About Illinois? by Kristin Marciniak

Uniquely Illinois  by AndrewSantella J 977.3 SAN

I & M Canal pioneers’ stories : bringing history to life in the Illinois & Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor  LH 977.3 REC

977.3 CRE  (Adult section) Starved Rock State Park: The Work of the CCC Along the I & M Canal by Dennis Cremin

Enjoy the great weather as you take a walk on the wild(flower & life) side and celebrate nature!


Pumpkin Pandemonium!

Fall is in the air and it definitely ’tis the season for all things pumpkin!


Whether you are decorating for fall, preparing for Halloween, or just noticing pumpkins wherever you go, you might like to brush up on your knowledge of these orange globes which are invading the area.  Here are a few interesting tidbits to share with others:

  • Morton, Illinois (near Peoria) is the pumpkin capital of the world (self-proclaimed, that is).  Illinois is one of the largest pumpkin producers in the U.S.
  • Pumpkins are 90% water.  They are members of the cucurbit plant family which includes gourds, melons, cucumbers, and squash.
  • Pumpkins are a surprisingly healthy food, full of vitamins and low in fat and calories – until they become sweet treats topped off with whipped cream or cream cheese frosting!
  • An estimated 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins are produced each year. The top pumpkin producing states are Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California.
  • The tradition of carving Jack-o-lanterns originated in Ireland hundreds of years ago to ward off evil spirits….however, turnips and potatoes were originally used. When Irish immigrants came to America, they started using pumpkins.
  • Save your seeds to plant next year’s crop. Remember to plant them near the end of May or early June so they’ll be ready for harvest in 90 to 120 days.

Learn more about pumpkins at these websites or stop in to browse the card catalog for our books:



How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? E MCN

How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow?  E MIN

Pumpkins  E 635.62 ROB

Pumpkins   E 635.62 STO

Pumpkins!    E 635.62 FAR

Pick a pumpkin, pick a book, pumpkins are everywhere you look!