First Lady of Mississippi donates books to Natchez elementary schools

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, April 27, 2022

NATCHEZ — Students at public elementary schools in Natchez had a visit from the First Lady of Mississippi Elee Reeves on Monday as she gave them copies of her new activity book for children “Mississippi’s Fred the Turtle.”

The visit was part of Reeves’ new initiative, called the “Fred the Turtle initiative,” announced recently during a kickoff event alongside The Casey Foundation, The Hope Institute, and the Mississippi Department of Education.

Fred the Turtle is the story of a turtle from the Mississippi Gulf Coast who finds himself on a voyage across Mississippi with Fisherman Jimmy. After getting trapped in a fishing net and landing in the back of Jimmy’s pickup truck at a dock in Biloxi, Fred the turtle travels with Jimmy to several of the state’s famous attractions.

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The coloring and activity book is authored by Reeves and illustrated by Ashley Denson.

Reeves said Fred was inspired by her childhood imaginary friend and Fisherman Jimmy was inspired by her dad.

The book’s objective is to incorporate engaging and thought-provoking conversation critical to child development and problem-solving skills, thus having a positive impact on the lives of Mississippi’s children, she said.

Approximately 350 of the books and packs of crayons were donated to five Mississippi elementary schools on Monday, including Joseph Frazier, McLaurin and Susie B. West, Jefferson County Upper and Kemper County Upper.

The books will reach five school districts in the state, including Natchez-Adams, Jefferson County, Claiborne County, Kemper County and South Delta.

The first round of book donations was made possible by a grant from the Cassey Foundation. Reeves and her team are working to identify additional funding sources and partnerships to place more activity books in the hands of students throughout the state.

“I’m incredibly excited to be able to introduce Mississippi students to Fred the Turtle,” Reeves said. “My hope is that these students will enjoy all the activities throughout the book while also learning valuable life lessons. I’m looking forward to seeing the impact that Fred and his journey will have on students across the state.”