First Lady visits Southaven schools with “Fred the Turtle”

Photo: Mississippi First Lady Elee Reeves talks with Southaven Intermediate School fourth graders about her book, “Mississippi’s Fred the Turtle.” (Bob Bakken/

Mississippi First Lady Elee Reeves visited two Southaven schools on Monday, April 24, continuing her statewide tour with her book “Mississippi’s Fred the Turtle.” It’s an activity book featuring a sea turtle named Fred who travels across the state and highlights great things Mississippi offers.  The initial printing of the book was funded through the Casey Foundation and Reeves and her team are working for more funding sources to distribute the book to more youngsters.  

After arriving in Southaven, Reeves went first to Southaven Elementary School and spoke with fourth graders at that school. Monday afternoon, the First Lady came to Southaven Intermediate School and spoke about the book to fourth graders there.  

At each school, students were each given copies of “Fred the Turtle.” As a coloring activity book, each copy comes with a set of crayons for the youngsters’ use.  

It was at Southaven Intermediate where we caught up with First Lady Elee Reeves and learned more about “Fred the Turtle.” 

Tell me about Fred the Turtle.

  • Fred the Turtle is about a sea turtle from the Gulf Coast who finds his way in a fisherman’s truck and goes with fisherman across his many deliveries across the state.  

What made you decide to write the book? What are the origins of it?

  • We knew we wanted to do something for children. I just met with my staff and several educators and we kind of came up with the idea of the story with the coloring activity book. 

What’s the purpose of the book beyond being just a book about Mississippi?

  • The purpose of the book is really to help kids think about being friends, about coping with any fears they may have, and really getting them to just do some critical thinking and also to explore Mississippi along the way.  

You’ve been on a statewide tour with the book, so it seems like you feel it was pretty important to do this.  

  • I wanted to hit every region of the state. I didn’t want to just pick and choose one because all fourth-graders are important, so it’s been really a fun journey.  

You’re also promoting reading, just how important is that?

  • Literacy is the number one key in our state and that’s how we came up with targeting fourth graders. We looked at third-grade reading scores and from that we came up with the idea of targeting fourth graders.  

What were some of the interesting questions the fourth graders asked today?

  • The questions are my favorite part. They all are very interested in the book and how it came about. How long it took to write it. There are definitely some specific turtle questions, like what regions did turtles exist in? They’re always interested in what it is being the First Lady and what it is like being married to the Governor. It’s fun.  

Bob Bakken

Bob Bakken is the most recognized and most trusted name in DeSoto County news and sports reporting, as readers continue to express their appreciation for his accuracy and fairness in the stories he writes. Bob is also heard on 95.3 The Rebel twice a week with sports updates and high school football play-by-play broadcasts in the fall. A former newspaper editor and writer, his award-winning background also includes television news producing, sports media relations, and radio broadcasting.

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