Family Activities 2021


Check back each day for fun and creative ideas for things for your family to do at home.

As with our Summer Reading Program activities, we would love to see pictures of your completed artwork, craft projects, or how your family has completed each activity. And with the parent’s permission, we will post your pictures on our Northeast Regional Library website and social media.

If you have any suggestions or comments on the types of activities you would like to see, please let us know!

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Suggested Family Activities January 2022

Suggested Family Activity • ♥ Thinking of You Cards

If you didn’t get around to sending out holiday cards, don’t worry!  New Year’s cards are an option for those who have too many holiday activities to get everything they want done.  Sending out a quick note to say “Thinking of You” or even a long letter getting your friends and family caught up on what your family has been up to this past year is a great way to spend the first few days of the new year.  And since getting a ‘real’ letter in the mail is such a rare thing these days, your thoughtful gesture could make someone’s day. 

To dress up your cards or letters, the U. S. Postal Service has debuted a new Forever stamp featuring Ezra Jack Keats iconic book The Snowy Day.  Four different designs are in the set, each picturing Peter in one of his scenes from the book.  To see how the stamps look and check out the opening celebration, which was held at the Brooklyn Public Library, check out the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation website at

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Suggested Family Activities December 2021

Suggested Family Activity 🎈 Balloon Stomp

Looking for some creative ways to entertain kids on New Year’s Eve?  Have a balloon stomp!  Blow up some small balloons and have fun watching as your kids jump, sit on, and stomp the balloons to pop them!  Not only does it make a loud popping noise that children love, but it can be a good way to burn off energy.  You could also hide small prizes, like quarters, inside the balloons. A fun alternative is to have children (or adults!) have a race with a balloon held between their knees.  Or you could see who can pop balloons the fastest.  If you have enough space, you could do this activity indoors but doing it outside will give kids lots of room to move around.

Other fun outdoor activities for tonight are to head out and try to catch glow-in-the-dark balls or Frisbees.  Don’t have any that already glow-in-the-dark?  No problem!  Just tape glow-in-the-dark necklaces and bracelets from dollar stores onto your ball or Frisbee to make your own.  Or get out a flashlight for a game of Flashlight Tag. It is basically like hide-and-seek, but in the dark, and the seeker gets a flashlight and “catches” players by shining the beam on them.  Even if it’s cold outside and you have to bundle up, it would still be worth it to get some last-minute outdoor fun in before 2021 ends!

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Suggested Family Activity 🎉 New Year’s Books

As 2021 draws to a close, check out some of the New Year’s picture books available through your local library branch: Angelina Ice Skates by Katharine Holabird, Happy New Year, Beni by Jane Breskin Zalben, Shanté Keys and the New Year’s Peas by Gail Piernas-Davenport, and Squirrel’s New Year’s Resolution by Pat Miller.  And don’t forget NERL’s recorded StoryTimes – on December 31, a recording of Ripley Librarian Eric Melton reading P. Bear’s New Year’s Party by Paul Owen will be added to the line-up, as well as a recording of NERL Administrative Assistant Leigh Hood reading Just in Time for New Year’s by Karen Gray Ruelle on January 1.

Frog and Friends Celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve by Eve Bunting and Just in Time for New Year’s!: A Harry & Emily Adventure by Karen Ruelle Gray are perfect for children venturing out to reading on their own.  Happy New Year! by Emery Bernhard and We Celebrate New Year by Bobbie Kalman are great titles if you want to learn how the new year is celebrated in other locations around the world.  Or if you are an adult who likes to read holiday themed fiction, check out New Year’s Eve Murder, a Lucy Stone mystery by Leslie Meier and The New Year’s Quilt, an Elm Creek Quilts novel by Jennifer Chiaverini.

Need some help (or maybe just some inspiration) for your New Year’s Day meals, Southern style?  Check out Cornbread Nation: The Best of Southern Food Writing, Dispatches from My South: Reflections and Recipes From a Southern Food Scribe by Hattiesburg’s Robert St. John, Cat Cora’s Kitchen: Favorite Meals for Family and Friends by Mississippi native Cat Cora, No Taste like Home: A Celebration of Regional Southern Cooking and Hometown Flavor by Kelly Alexander, The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South by John T. Edge (Director of the Southern Foodways Alliance at the University of Mississippi), South: Essential Recipes and New Explorations by Sean Brock, and Sunday Dinner in the South: Recipes to Keep Them Coming Back for More by Tammy Algood.

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Suggested Family Activity 🃏 National Card Playing Day

Tomorrow is National Card Playing Day so why not have a family game night?  Playing card games together is a lot of fun for all ages.  Families with very young children can play one of the many matching games that help children learn colors, numbers, and the alphabet.  Older children might enjoy a great beginner’s game such as Go Fish, Crazy Eights, War, Concentration, or Uno, while teens might enjoy card games such as Munchkin, Exploding Kittens, and Unstable Unicorns.  Children can even be taught to play Solitaire on their own.  Playing card games is a great way for children to learn social skills such as taking turns, being fair to others, and being patient while waiting for everyone else to have a turn.  It also helps children practice other necessary skills such as adding and subtracting, matching numbers and patterns, colors, and shapes – but all while having fun!

This week is your last week to try to Find Santa’s Reindeer at your local library branches!  Scattered around some NERL branches are pictures of all of Santa’s reindeers in random places.  Pick up an answer sheet at the front desk and see if you can find them all!  Everyone who completes the activity will be able to pick out a small prize.  (Because of size constraints, this scavenger hunt is only available at the public libraries in Belmont, Booneville, Burnsville, Corinth, Iuka, and Ripley.”

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Suggested Family Activity 🎄 Holiday Reading

Christmas Eve is the perfect night to celebrate your friends and family.  Maybe you will be able to visit with them tonight or maybe you will call a friend or family member who lives out of town, just to let them know you are thinking of them.  It is also a great night to settle in and watch a holiday movie together.  Does your family like to watch the black and white classics It’s a Wonderful Life, White Christmas, or Miracle on 34th Street?  What about classic cartoons, such as A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, or Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town?  Maybe you like A Polar Express, Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas, Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas Special, Merry Madagascar, or Shrek the Halls.  Many of your favorite characters have their own holiday specials, such as Arthur, Barbie, and the characters from Thomas the Tank Engine, Sesame Street, and Dora the Explorer.  There are also lots of versions of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, including cartoon versions with the Muppets, Mickey Mouse and his friends, and the Flintstones, as well as live action movies starring George C. Scott and Kelsey Grammar as Ebenezer Scrooge.  Maybe your family enjoys comedy holiday movies, such as National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, those in the Home Alone franchise, The Santa Claus, or Scrooged with Bill Murray.

And who could forget the Grinch?  A list of holiday movies would not be complete without mentioning all the different versions of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, including the original 1966 version with Boris Karloff, Jim Carrey’s 2003 version, and 2019’s version with Benedict Cumberbatch.

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Suggested Family Activity 🎄 Holiday Reading

Your local NERL branches will only be open today and tomorrow this week so hurry by to check out last minute books to enjoy during the holidays.  Selections vary by branch so call your local library today to see what they have available.  Some great picture book titles by your favorite children’s book authors include A Chick ‘n’ Pug Christmas by Jennifer Gordon Sattler, Construction Site on Christmas Night by Sherri Duskey Rinker, Fly Guy’s Ninja Christmas by Tedd Arnold, and How to Catch an Elf by Adam Wallace.  Chapter book readers might enjoy the classic The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson or contemporary titles such as The Dog Diaries: Happy Howlidays by James Patterson, When Santa Fell to Earth by Cornelia Caroline Funke, and Magic Tree House: Christmas in Camelot by Mary Pope Osborne.

Adult fiction titles about the holiday season include mystery titles such as Eggs on Ice by Laura Childs, A Garland of Bones by Carolyn Haines, and Wagging Through the Snow by Laurien Berenson, while romance readers might enjoy Hot Winter Nights by Jill Shalvis or Jingle All the Way by Debbie Macomber.  Christian fiction titles in our collections include ‘Twas the Night Before: A Love Story by Jerry B.Jenkins, An Amish Christmas: December in Lancaster County, and A Baxter Family Christmas by Karen

Kingsbury, while western readers might like Willie Nelson’s Pretty Paper: A Christmas Tale or William W. Johnstone’s An Arizona Christmas.

Today is the last day this week to pick up an activity and craft packet and FREE book at your local library branch before they close for the holidays!  In the packets, you will find lots of fun things to keep children entertained this week, such as coloring sheets, crossword puzzles, mazes, connect the dots, a Gingerbread House Shape Match, a Spot the Items Santa sheet, holiday letters and a bookmark to color, holiday jokes, a Christmas Acrostic Poem, a Candle Burning Experiment, and many others.  Craft projects for the 6 and up age group include a Paper Plate Snowman and an Elf Puppet, children ages 7 – 11 will have an Elf Puppet and Christmas Ornament Quilling instructions and supplies, and those 12 and up will have the quilling activity.  So stop in today or tomorrow for your packet!

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Suggested Family Activity ❄ Winter Solstice

Tomorrow is the date of the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere– the longest night of the year.  It is the day when the Earth’s Northern pole has tilted as far as possible from the sun, which means that the day light hours are the shortest and the nighttime hours are the longest.  One way to celebrate this longest night is by having a fire outside and roasting hot dogs and toasting marshmallows.  Having a cup of hot cider or hot chocolate will also be a great treat tonight.  Once you go inside, cuddle up on a bed or couch with your family and read stories to each other.  Or you could watch some of the holiday story times that have been recorded by NERL staff and are available through the NERL website.  Iuka Librarian Gwen Spain has a recording of The Winter Witch by Clay Bonnyman Evans, which is about the Winter Solstice.  Other titles available include NERL Director Dee Hare reading Bear Stays Up Late for Christmas by Karma Wilson, NERL Administrative Assistant Leigh Hood reading Click Clack, Ho! HO! HO! by Doreen Cronin, Cody Daniel from the Corinth Public Library reading selections from J. R. R. Tolkien’s Father Christmas Letters, and Eric Melton from the Ripley Public Library reading Little Rabbit’s Christmas by Harry Horse. Upcoming titles include Sandy Donahue from the George E. Allen Library in Booneville reading Pete the Cat Saves Christmas by James Dean.

Reading Clement Clarke Moore’s holiday classic The Night Before Christmas (sometimes listed as ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas) is a fun tradition in many families.  Your local libraries have lots of versions available to be checked out so make sure to pick up a copy before the big day!  Illustrators such as Hilary Knight, Arthur Rackham, Jan Brett, and Richard Scarry, just to name a few, have put their own spin on the story over the years.  There are even specialized versions such as A Cat’s Night Before Christmas and A Dog’s Night Before Christmas by Henry Beard and The Night Before Christmas, Deep Under the Sea by Kathie Kelleher.  And don’t forget your library card gives you access to e-books through Hoopla and the Libby app through OverDrive.  Accessing these titles is quick and easy.  For more information, check the Digital Resources page on our website or call your local library.

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Suggested Family Activity 📔 Book Tree 🎄

A fun holiday craft project this week is to turn an old, outdated book or thick magazine into a tree by bending the pages.  Any size book or thick magazine will do, although Reader’s Digest magazines and books are a perfect size.  To make the tree pictured below from the Iuka Public Library, follow these instructions:

Fold the top right corner into the fold.

Fold the right edge into the fold.

Crease the folds with your finger.

Repeat until the entire volume is done.

You can leave the pages as is or apply a little acrylic paint, spray paint, tempera paint, or even spray snow to put some seasonal color on your tree.  You could also cover the edges with glue and sprinkle on glitter. As a final touch, cut out or make tiny ornaments to decorate your tree.  If you make three or more trees, you can even create your own little winter forest!

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Suggested Family Activity ❄ Winter and Holiday Crafts and Activities

Have you picked up an activity packet of winter and holiday themed crafts and activities yet?  Each one has lots of fun things for everyone in your family to enjoy.  We have lists of Winter Activities for your family to do, as well as a special Winter Bucket List for those ages 12 and up.  There is an Advent Reading Countdown, a Scavenger Hunt of things to look for as you travel around your communities, a sheet that breaks down How to Draw a Reindeer, and holiday writing prompts.  Each packet also contains a holiday bookmark to color.

In the packets for children 6 and under, they will have lots of coloring sheets, as well as other specialty sheets, such as a Gingerbread House Shape Match, a Spot the Items Santa sheet, and a holiday letter template to color.  Craft projects for this age group include a Paper Plate Snowman and an Elf Puppet.  Children ages 7 – 11 also have lots of fun activity sheets.  In addition to crossword puzzles, word searches, and mazes, there are Holiday Jokes, a Christmas Acrostic Poem, and a Candle Burning Experiment.  Craft projects for this group include an Elf Puppet and Christmas Ornament Quilling instructions and supplies.  

Those ages 12 and up set will enjoy holiday writing prompts, Acts of Kindness prompts, a Christmas Ornament Quilling craft project, and other fun activity sheets. A FREE book is included in every packet as our holiday gift to you so stop by one of our branches today and get your packet and free book!

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Suggested Family Activity ☕ National Cocoa Day

Today is National Cocoa Day – the perfect day to celebrate during the holiday season.   When it is cold outside, what better way is there to feel toasty and warm than drinking a big cup of hot cocoa?  Different than hot chocolate, hot cocoa is made by heating milk and cocoa powder with sugar.  (Some people may like to substitute hot water for the milk.)  Wondering why you would need to add extra sugar?  Cocoa is not naturally sweet, so sugar (or a sugar substitute) is necessary to make it taste more like the hot chocolate many of us are used to.  Hot cocoa, just like hot chocolate, is a great drink by itself or you can add extra toppings to it, such as the traditional marshmallows or whipped cream.  You can also add cinnamon for extra flavor or garnish it with peppermint pieces or a candy cane.  Some unexpected toppings might be toffee bits, mini chocolate chips, chopped nuts, coconut, or even crushed butterscotch candies.  And If you like flavors drizzled over your whipped cream, you can try fudge or caramel. 

There is some indication that drinking hot cocoa may have health benefits.  Cocoa contains significant amounts of antioxidants, which can help fight the effects of aging and may even help prevent cancer.   Some research also indicates cocoa can help you digest your food better.  The flavonoids (compounds that are found naturally in various fruits and vegetables) found in cocoa could also help your arteries stay clear and healthy.

To go with your hot cocoa drinks today, try baking a holiday treat with one of the cakes and cookie pans available to be checked out at the Iuka library.  They have two different star-shaped cake pans, a Christmas teddy bear, a Christmas tree, two different Christmas wreathes, a Santa Claus face, and two different Snowmen.  Also available are pans for making gingerbread or cookie kids and heart and round cookie pans to make a large chocolate chip cookie. 

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Suggested Family Activity 🏠 Gingerbread House Day

There are many options to making a Gingerbread house like this Santa cookie standup house.

Gingerbread House Day is Sunday, December 12th so this weekend is the perfect time to decorate a gingerbread house as a fun family activity.  To make it faster and easier, you can purchase pre-made kits with pieces cut to size, pre-mixed cake icing, and decorations.  You can find kits in many different varieties – themed houses, such as those from How the Grinch Stole Christmas or even kits made of yummy ingredients, such as Oreo houses.

Did you know NERL has been posting recordings of staff reading holiday children’s books on our website?  On Monday, December 13, a video will be posted of NERL Director Dee Hare reading Gingerbread Mouse by Katy Bratun.  This sweet holiday tale follows a little mouse as she loses her home in the forest but finds a new one in a family’s gingerbread house.  Recorded readings already available on our website include Gwen Spain from the Iuka Public Library reading No Two Alike, a cute story about snowflakes by Keith Baker, Eric Melton from the Ripley Public Library reading Ian Falconer’s Olivia Helps with Christmas, NERL Administrative Assistant Leigh Hood reading Christmas Tree Farm by Ann Purmell, and Sandy Donahue from the George E. Allen Library in Booneville reading Santa Duck by David Milgrim.  Upcoming selections include Cody Daniel from the Corinth Public Library reading Jan Brett’s The Wild Christmas Reindeer and Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner.  New stories are being added every weekday in December and will remain available through the end of the month.

Story Times

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Suggested Family Activity 🤶 Christmas Card Day

Tomorrow is Christmas Card Day – the perfect time to sit down and write out some Christmas cards.  You can buy pre-made cards or order photo cards to send out but making your own cards is a great holiday activity for all ages.  The necessary supplies are very simple.  All you need is paper and something with which to write, so use whatever you have at home.  Colored pencils, crayons, markers, or regular pens and pencils are all great choices to add a little extra flair.  Children will especially love drawing and illustrating cards to give to friends and family.  They can even embellish them with glitter or stickers.

Another fun idea for making your own cards is to repurpose cards you have received in the past by cutting out pretty images from them and gluing them onto your paper.  There are lots of ideas online for other things to do with old cards, such as cutting out designs from them in a circle shape and gluing them together to make holiday ornaments. Another idea is to cut out beautiful images from old cards and glue them into empty shoeboxes to create dioramas.  Children can use odds and ends to embellish their diorama, such as cotton balls to represent snow or small twigs from outside to make trees.

Holiday cards are a great way to communicate with friends and family who live in distant places.  They are also a way to acknowledge once a year those around us who help us or give us support, such as teachers and co-workers.  They are a classic way to tell someone you are thinking of them.

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Suggested Family Activity • Winter 📸Photography🖼

⛄ Winter holidays give us a great opportunity to take beautiful 🖼 pictures with our families.  If you decorate your home, take pictures of your family not just in front of a decorated tree, but try out other places as well, such as a holiday village if you have one or in front of a holiday wreath on your 🚪 door.  And don’t forget taking pictures 📸 outside too.  Taking pictures at night in front of decorations that are bright with festive lights 🏮 make beautiful photos too.  If you don’t have decorations in your home, most businesses in your town have put up beautiful decorations.  Many will not mind someone snapping a quick picture!  Most communities also have decorations on their streets and downtown areas as well.  So look around you as you drive through town to see what types of great opportunities you can spot to snap a quick pic.  And while you are driving around looking for a place to take a photo, check out all the beautiful lights and outdoor decorations around your town.  Going out to look at holiday lights and outdoor decorations is a great family tradition. 

You can take pictures of your family doing fun things like working on a gingerbread house, trying to fold a ❄ snowflake, or stringing 🍿 popcorn to use as a decoration.  Another fun idea is to have a picnic lunch or dinner under your 🎄 tree.  It doesn’t have to be fancy – just spread out a blanket on the floor, take your plates of food with you, and enjoy your meal and spending time with your family under your tree.

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Suggested Family Activity • National 🍪 Cookie Day

Tomorrow is National Cookie 🍪 Day so it’s the perfect time to start enjoying your favorite holiday cookies.  People love to bake, decorate, and (of course) eat cookies at any time of the year but December cookies are always the best!  Cookies make a great holiday treat for not only your family, but also other special people in your life – friends, co-workers, neighbors, or teachers at school.  Now is also a great time to start practicing baking special cookies to leave for Santa!

Booneville had Cookies donated to their staff for cookie day 🍪

If you need help trying to decide what cookies to make this weekend, check out some of the titles below from your local libraries’ collection: Christmas cookies: 75 Irresistible Holiday Treats, Christmas with Paula Deen: Recipes and Stories from my Favorite Holiday, the Christmas With Southern Living yearly annuals, and A Home-Baked Christmas: 56 Delicious Cookies, Cakes & Gifts from Your Kitchen.  While you are waiting for your cookies to bake, read one the our children’s picture book titles, such as  Arthur’s Christmas Cookies by Lillian Hoban, Christmas with the Mousekins by Maggie Smith, Merry Christmas, Strawberry Shortcake! by Mickie Matheis and Prissy & Pop Deck the Halls by Melissa Nicholson.

Adult fiction titles about holiday baking include An Amish Christmas Bakery by Amy Clipson, A Catered Christmas Cookie Exchange: A Mystery with Recipes by Isis Crawford, The Christmas Cookie Club by Ann Pearlman, and Gingerbread Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke.

According to the National Day Calendar, the first National Cookie Day was celebrated in November 1976 by Sesame Street, inspired by their lovable character Cookie Monster.  Several years later, the date was moved to December 4 by a national cookie company.

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Suggested Family Activity • National Authors’ Day

The holidayseason is here and with it, another special packet of winter and holiday themed crafts and activities that have lots of fun things for everyone in your family to enjoy.
Northeast Regional Library Holiday 2021 craft and activity packets include:

A Family set that has a ⛄ ✔ Winter Activities To Do List, 📅 an Advent Reading Countdown,  🔎 a Scavenger Hunt, 📝 a holiday writing prompt, and other fun sheets.
(A Family set is included in each 6 and under and 7-11 packet.)

A 6 and under set that includes a 🏠 Gingerbread House Shape Match, 🎅 Spot the Items Santa sheet, ⛄ a Paper Plate Snowman craft project, ✂ an Elf Puppet craft project, and lots of other crossword puzzles, word searches, mazes, and coloring sheets.

A 7 – 11 set with activities that include ⛄ Holiday Jokes, 🎄 a Christmas Acrostic Poem, 🧪 a Candle Burning Experiment, ✂ an Elf Puppet craft project, 🎄 a Christmas Ornament Quilling craft project, and other fun activity sheets

A 12 and up set that includes a 📝 holiday writing prompt, 📃 a Winter Bucket List, 😇 Acts of Kindness prompts, 🎄 a Christmas Ornament Quilling craft project, and other fun activity sheets.

🎁 A FREE Book is included in every packet as our holiday gift to you!  So stop by one of our branches today, get a packet or two, and pick out your free book!  Share your photos with us at

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November 2021 Suggested Family Activities

Suggested Family Activity • National Mississippi Day

Tomorrow is National Mississippi Day – a day to recognize the state we live in and some of the great things to be found here!  Mississippi is well known for being the home of wonderful writers, entertainers and athletes including Elvis Presley, B.B. King, Eudora Welty, John Grisham, Richard Wright, William Faulkner, Oprah Winfrey, Jim Henson, Robin Roberts, LeAnn Rimes, James Earl Jones, Jerry Rice and Brett Favre, just to name a few.  How many famous Mississippians can you name?  And did you know Mississippi added another famous resident last year when Miss Mississippi Asya Branch of Booneville was named Miss USA?

Mississippi is home of the Delta blues and the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement, which can be explored online at  To find out more about the Delta blues, visit their museum at  Our state is full of beautiful scenery and natural wonders, such as those found along the 444-mile long Natchez Trace Parkway, which runs through our area.  This ancient pathway began first as a trail used by herds of bison and then was used by the hunting and gathering mound builders in the area.  Later, it would become a passageway for those transporting goods from the northern U.S. to the river town of Natchez. To learn more about the Natchez Trace, visit their website at

Another great treasure in our area is the Tishomingo State Park.  It was named after Chickasaw Chief Tishomingo, one of the last surviving full-blooded Chickasaw Chiefs, who lived to be over 100 years old.  Chief Tishomingo fought on the same side as the U.S. military during military campaigns of the late 1700s and early 1800s before he and his people were removed from their land in Mississippi in the early 1830s.  Two counties, one in Mississippi and one in Oklahoma, two state parks, a town, organizations, and a beautiful bridge have been named in Chief Tishomingo’s honor.  To find out more about Tishomingo State Park, visit their website at

If you have young children, do they know how to spell Mississippi?  If not, teach them the “M, I, crooked letter, crooked letter, I, crooked letter, crooked letter, I, humpback, humpback, I” rhyme that has been used for generations to teach children how the word is spelled.  Another fact about Mississippi is that people all over the U.S. count seconds of time by saying, “One Mississippi, two Mississippi, etc”.  No one knows why – it could be just that it is a fun word to say! 

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Suggested Family Activity • National Native American Heritage Month

November has been National Native American Heritage Month. The website for the event contains lots of great materials, such as selections of both audio and video programs, as well as a special resource section for teachers. In collaboration with the Smithsonian and the National Museum of the American Indian, the website has a virtual presentation titled “Why We Serve: Native Americans in the United States Armed Forces” that showcases quotes and testimonials from those who have served, both current and historical photographs, information about the Navaho Code Talkers, and much more. The site also has links to a series of recorded online discussions, webinars, and presentations of special art gallery programs that were created for this month. Participants include Joy Harjo, the first Native American U. S. Poet Laureate, Deb Haaland, the first Native American cabinet secretary, and several filmmakers from a Native Cinema Showcase, among others.

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To view this fascinating resource, click here:
Your local libraries also have resources to help you learn more about Native American culture. Picture book selections include Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard, Listen to the Storyteller: A Trio of Musical Tales from Around the World, and We are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell. To introduce slightly older children to the Native American philosophy regarding the natural world, check out All Our Relatives: Traditional Native American Thoughts about Nature by Paul Goble. Or for a broader view, check out American Indian Voices, which includes songs, myths and legends, stories, and poetry of various Native American peoples, as well as biographical information about key figures. Other interesting new titles include Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids, a collection of intersecting stories told by various Native writers and #NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women, a collection of stories for young adult readers.

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Suggested Family Activity • Leaf 🍂 Scavenger Hunt

The Belmont First Baptist Church did an awesome job on their November Activity Packets!

Even though it is colder outside this week, you can still bundle up to have lots of fun with your family!  Fall days are a great time to go on a spider hunt around your yard and see how many cobwebs you can find.  Some spiders (the good kind that eat annoying insects, such as mosquitos) like to build large webs stretching along the ends of porches or from the eaves or gutters of your roof to a nearby tree or fence.  Look closely at all your surroundings – some spiders’ webs are hidden in small places, such as in bushes or around flower beds.

For a fun STEM activity with your children, send them on a Leaf Scavenger Hunt: Go out to your yard ahead of time and find leaves from each of the different trees near you.  Tape or glue the leaves onto paper or index cards and write in the name of the tree from which it fell.  Then send your children out into the yard to find similar leaves from each tree.  If the wind is blowing, it makes it every more fun!  Kids can try to catch the leaves as they are falling and floating around in the air.

Don’t forget to have a fall photoshoot outside with your kids before the round of Christmas holidays begin.  You can take pictures of them doing fun things like jumping in piles of leaves, trying to catch a falling leaf (some people say you get to make a wish if you catch one), and generally taking full advantage of all the beautiful yellow, orange, and red scenery.

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Suggested Family Activity • 30 Days of Gratitude Challenge

As we enter the week of Thanksgiving, many of us start thinking of all the things we are grateful for in our lives.  Our November activity packets this month even have a 30 Days of Gratitude Challenge for individuals to do by themself or families to do together.  Each day contains an idea for simple things to do to think about who you are grateful for – such as thanking a parent, friend, teacher, or other community members, such as those who work in health care or city support services (fire department, police department, garbage pick-up, etc.).  It also contains prompts to get you thinking about other things around you to be grateful for, such as certain tastes or things you see, as well as prompts that ask you to share something you are grateful for that happened today or write about an animal you are glad exists. 

Keeping a Gratitude Journal is another way of making yourself think about the everyday things you are grateful for.  Our packets contain a simple Gratitude Journal sheet for young children that prompts them to draw a picture of two things they are thankful for today.  Older children also have a sheet that lets them write down something they are thankful for today, as well as asks them to perform an act of kindness for someone else.  As you see from our sheets, Gratitude Journals do not have to be fancy.  All you need is paper to start writing down daily things in your life for which you are grateful.  Having your list of things to be grateful for all in one spot will not only help you to remember them, but it will also give you a good place to go to when you are having a bad day.  If you are feeling down and ‘blue’, pull out your journal to read about all the great things in your life.

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Suggested Family Activity • Lunar Eclipse 🌑🌗

Did you know tonight there will be a rare lunar eclipse 🌑 visible?  So make time to go out and look at the moon 🌙 to see it!  November and December are what astronomers call “eclipse season,” which means that there will be several eclipses visible this month and next.  Lunar eclipses occur when the moon is lined-up perfectly to intersect the path of the sun.  The moon normally crosses the sun’s path twice a month but doesn’t always perfectly align with it.  A full lunar eclipse happens when the moon is full.  Tonight’s moon, known as the “Frosty Moon,” will not quite be in a full position so it won’t be a full lunar eclipse.  But it will be very close!  There will also be another great lunar eclipse on December 4, although it will only be visible in Antarctica.

Need help explaining what eclipses are to young children?  Our activity packets this month have a sheet about solar and lunar eclipses to help.

When the Eclipse Happens Worldwide — Timeline

Lunar eclipses can be visible from everywhere on the night side of the Earth, if the sky is clear. From some places the entire eclipse will be visible, while in other areas the Moon will rise or set during the eclipse.

EventUTC TimeTime in CorinthVisible in Corinth
Penumbral Eclipse beginsNov 19 at 06:02:09Nov 19 at 12:02:09 amYes
Partial Eclipse beginsNov 19 at 07:18:42Nov 19 at 1:18:42 amYes
Maximum EclipseNov 19 at 09:02:55Nov 19 at 3:02:55 amYes
Partial Eclipse endsNov 19 at 10:47:04Nov 19 at 4:47:04 amYes
Penumbral Eclipse endsNov 19 at 12:03:40Nov 19 at 6:03:40 amYes

* The Moon is above the horizon during this eclipse, so with good weather conditions in Corinth, the entire eclipse is visible.

Eclipse calculations usually accurate to a few seconds.

The magnitude of the eclipse is 0.974.

The penumbral magnitude of the eclipse is 2.072.

The total duration of the eclipse is 6 hours, 2 minutes.

The duration of the partial eclipse is 3 hours, 28 minutes.

And for even more information, check out


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Suggested Family Activity • National StoryWalk® Week

Corinth November StoryWalk® Just Like My Brother

Today is National take a Hike ⛰ Day and this week is National StoryWalk® week so why not combine the two and enjoy one of our StoryWalks® while you are taking a walk today?  As a reminder, our StoryWalks® are outdoor reading experiences where children’s books are presented 📖 via plastic signs at various points along a walking trail 🚶‍♂️.  Participants walk the trail, stopping at each sign to read the pages of the story.  Currently, Northeast Regional Library has StoryWalks® in several of our local communities.

This week, the Story Walk ® of Julie Stegemeyer’s barnyard counting story Gobble, Gobble, Crash is being put up at the William M. Sanders walking trail in Blue Mountain and a Story Walk ® of Julia Donaldson’s classic The Gruffalo will be put at the newly opened JC Nance Park in Ripley.  Other Story Walks ® being put in place this week include the funny Chimpanzees for Tea by Jo Empson at the walking trail in the Booneville City Park and the hilarious Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins at the Mineral Springs Park in Iuka.

Current Story Walks ® in Alcorn county include Gianna Marino’s Just Like My Brother, the sweet tale of a young giraffe looking for his older brother, at the Corinth City Park and the barnyard classic Click, Clack, Moo by Dorren Cronin at the walking trail in the Farmington City Park.  All Story Walks ® will remain in place until the end of the month.  For a listing of all locations with addresses and other information, check out the Story Walk information on our at website

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Suggested Family Activity • Fall 🍂 Activities

Leaves 🍂 are falling everywhere! Over the next few weeks (especially next week when kids are out of school), try out some of these fun fall activities if the weather is nice enough to go outside:

Rake up small piles of leaves 🍁 around your yard to make an obstacle 🏁 course. (This is also a great activity to get children involved in helping with leaf pick up – let them have some fun with the leaves first and then get them all picked up!) Scatter the piles of leaves in straight lines or zigzag them around your yard so that the children have to change ↕ direction frequently. You can even make some piles taller than others to increase the difficulty. Children can race 🏃‍♀️🏃‍♂️ the obstacle course over and over to see how long it takes them.

Some people like to use large pieces of carboard, a tarp, or an old sheet to gather their leaves. If you use that method, let your kids have fun playing with them before you get rid of them. Put a small (or large) number of leaves on the tarp or sheet and then fling them all back in the air for your kids to catch. Sure, it’s a little extra work, but the kids will really ❤ love it!

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Suggested Family Activity 🙏 “Thankful” Activity Packets

Did you know our Iuka branch has cake pans 🎂 you can check out to use?  Thanksgiving 🦃 themed ones include a cornucopia, a 🏈 football, and two different 🍗 turkeys.  Most of them are aluminum (many are the legendary Wilton brand, although a few are made from plastic).  If you check one out today, we would love to see your creation 🍰.  Send a pic to and we will post it on our website and share it on social media!

Have you picked up your November 🦃 activity packet yet?  Our “Thankful” 🙏 packet this month features:

A Family set that has activities such as a Pin the Wattle on the Turkey 🦃 game, a Turkey Race 🏁 drawing game, Thanksgiving trivia ❓, and a 30 Days of Gratitude challenge.  (A Family set is included in each 6 and under and 7-11 packet.)

A 6 and under set that includes a Five Little Turkeys 🦃 poem, a cut ✂ and paste cornucopia sheet, a Turkey 🍗 Handprint ✋ craft project, and other crossword puzzles, mazes, and coloring 🖍 sheets.

A 7 – 11 set with activities that include a Gratitude Journal sheet, a Thanksgiving 🦃 writing prompt, fun Family Interview sheets that gives you great questions to ask ❓ family members when they visit, a Maple Leaf 🍁 Origami craft project, and other fun activity sheets.

A 12 and up set that includes journal writing 🖊 prompts, Thanksgiving 🦃 trivia, a Fall Family Traditions interview sheet, a 30 Days of Gratitude challenge, a Maple Leaf 🍁 Origami craft project, and other fun activity sheets.

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Suggested Family Activity • Owl 🦉 Puppet Craft

If you have brown paper bags, your kids can turn them into a cute fall owl 🦉 puppet using various colored paper.   They can stick with fall colors such as red, orange, yellow, and brown or use any other colors that strike their fancy.  If you have picked up one of the November 🦃 activity packets from one of our branches, there is a template included to make an owl, as well as a cute owl coloring 🖍 sheet.  Or you could Google similar craft projects online and let your children look at those for inspiration for how to cut ✂ their pieces.  Another idea is to draw an owl 🦉 outline and let your children cut (or tear) pieces of paper into small pieces to glue onto the outline in a mosaic style.  Adding a few small touches, such as a beak, eyes 👀, ears, and claws, will really bring it to life!

An owl 🦉 character figures prominently in Julia Donaldson’s classic tale The Gruffalo, which is currently available as a StoryWalk® at the walking trail at the Mineral Springs Park Walking Trail in Iuka.  Located at 118 S. Pearl Street, this lovely, shaded trail forms the perfect setting to follow a mouse 🐭 as he tries to trick the other forest animals into thinking there is a monster nearby.  The StoryWalk® will be available in Iuka until November 14, after which it will be moved to the newly opened walking trail at the J. C. Nance Park, located at 702 North Main Street in Ripley.  Read more about StoryWalks® here.

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Suggested Family Activities • National Parents as Teachers 🎓 Day and National S.T.E.M. 🧪 Day

Today is both National Parents as Teachers 🎓 Day and National S.T.E.M./S.T.E.A.M. 🧪 Day.  For parents who are looking for a fun experiment to teach or reinforce S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Math) concepts to their children, try this Candle Burning 🕯 Experiment below from the website  Take caution, though, this experiment does involve fire 🔥 so adult 👴 supervision 👀 at all times will be necessary.

All you will need for this experiment are four tea candles 🕯, four glass jars 🥃 of different sizes that will fit over the candles, matches or a lighter 🔥, some kind of timer (such as a stopwatch ⏱ or the timer on your phone) and paper 📄 and pencil ✏ for them to write down their experiment results. Click the image below for a printable PDF file.

Let us know how your experiment goes!  Send pics to

Suggested Family Activities • Fall Arts & Crafts 🍂

If you are looking for some fall-themed arts 🎨 and crafts projects to do with your family, try out some of these ideas:  Gather leaves 🍂 and other natural elements such as pinecones, acorns, sticks, and rocks to make an interesting fall display for your dining room table.  Don’t forget candles 🕯 to make it super special!  You can also use leaves and small things from nature to make a leaf collage.  Glue everything down to a sheet of paper and embellish it with crayons 🖍, markers 🖊, colored pencils, glitter 🎇, or any other craft supplies you have on hand.  Fall themed colors such as brown, red, and orange are nice but so is letting your children use whatever colors they like.  They can also the power of their imaginations to turn each leaf 🍂 shape into something else entirely.  After gluing a leaf to a piece of paper, maybe they will turn it into a house 🏡 or an animal 🐣.

Look around your kitchen 🍽 and see what interesting things your kids can use to make a fall 🌲 tree.  After drawing a tree trunk on a piece of paper, they could glue small round 🟡 breakfast cereal pieces (such as Cheerios) to represent falling leaves 🍁.  One fun variation is to trace their arm 🙋‍♂️ and hand 🖐 with their fingers spread out onto black or brown paper to be the trunk and limbs of the tree.  If you only have white paper available, no worries!  Just trace it and have your kids color the tree 🌲 trunk.  Another fun way to make falling 🍂 leaves for your tree is to tear up small pieces of tissue paper, crepe paper, or even regular paper in fall colors such as yellow, red, and orange.  Crumple and scrunch each piece to make it look like a falling leaf 🍁.  The picture 🖼 below is a version of this craft created by the mom behind the Resourceful Mama website.  Check out her step-by-step instructions, as well as extra ways to expand the activity, here.

Share pics of your crafts with us here

Suggested Family Activities • StoryWalks®

StoryWalks® have resumed in many of our local communities.  What is a StoryWalk®, you ask?  A StoryWalk® is an outdoor reading experience where a children’s book 📖 is presented via plastic signs at various points along a walking trail.  Participants walk the trial, stopping at each sign to read the pages of the story.  Northeast Regional Library is proud to partner with our local communities to present Story Walks at walking trails this month in Blue Mountain, Booneville, Corinth, Farmington, Iuka, and Ripley.  (For a listing of all locations with addresses and other information, check out the Story Walk information on our at website

In celebration of all things turkey related this month, we have a Story Walk ® of Gobble, Gobble, Crash, a barnyard counting story by Julie Stegemeyer, with illustrations by Valeri Gorbachev.  Can you guess what trouble ensues when turkeys get loose from their pens in the middle of the night?  Go visit the Story Walk ® and find out!  This title will be available at the walking trail in Plumrose Park in Booneville from November 1 – November 16 and at the William M. Sanders walking trail in Blue Mountain from November 18 through the end of the month.

Click here to visit our StoryWalk webpage for more information!

Available in our November activity packets this month are the supplies for children to make a handprint turkey, as well as a colorful Thankful 🦃 Turkey craft project for the whole family. Game sheets included in the packets are a Pin the Wattle on the Turkey 🦃 game and a Turkey Race 🏁 to see who can draw a turkey the fastest.  So pick up your packet today! We would love to see and share pictures of your Turkey Craft!  Send pics to

Suggested Family Activity • National Authors’ Day

Today, on National Authors’ Day, we pay tribute to author 📚 and illustrator 🎨 Jerry Pinkney, who died suddenly recently.  A beloved figure in the world of children’s literature, Pinkney worked on more than 100 titles during his career.  He is perhaps best known for his 2010 Caldecott medal winning rendition of the fable of The Lion and the Mouse. 🦁🐁 In addition to working on picture books for young children, often with his wife Gloria Jean, he also illustrated book covers for such luminaries as Virginia Hamilton and Mildred D. Taylor.  He illustrated the original 1971 edition of her acclaimed novel Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry.   During his long career, Pinkney won five Coretta Scott King awards 🏆 from the American Library Association (ALA) and a lifetime achievement award from the Society of Illustrators.  For more information on the life of Jerry Pinkney, check out this article from NPR.

Your local libraries have lots of copies of Pinkney’s works for you to check out, including his Caldecott title The Lion and the Mouse and the Caldecott Honor title John Henry by Julius Lester.  Many of Pinkney’s work involved legends and fables.  He illustrated a version of Aesop’s Fables, as well as an edition of Rudyard’s Kipling’s The Jungle Book.  Additional fables he illustrated include Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, The Ugly Duckling and The Little Red Hen.  Other popular titles he worked on include Pat McKissack’s Goin’ Someplace Special and Mirandy and Brother Wind.

October 2021 Suggested Family Activities

Suggested Family Activity National Frankenstein Day

Just in time for 👻 Halloween, today is National Frankenstein Day, a day to recognize author Mary Shelly.  Originally published in 1818, Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, is the story of the horrific monster the mad scientist Dr. Frankenstein creates.  Since its publication, there are been several new editions, along with feature film 🎬 versions.  To celebrate today, you can dress up like your favorite character, whether it is 👨‍⚕️ Dr. Frankenstein, the 👺 monster, or even his ill-fated 👰 bride.  You could read the original version or watch one of the many movies about the story, including I, Frankenstein, Young Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein (co-starring Daniel ⚡ Radcliffe), or the classics Bride of Frankenstein and Frankenstein vs. the Mummy.  Copies of all the book and movie titles are available through your local library. Click Here to view the titles and their availability in our Online Card Catalog.

For a funnier, child-friendly take on the Frankenstein monster, author Adam Rex has written several picture book titles – Frankenstein Takes the Cake and Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich.  Other fun Frankenstein themed ideas to do this weekend include baking cookies (or a cake) in the shape of Frankenstein’s head, making up your own crazy sandwich combination, conducting a science experiment, or drawing your own version of the monster.

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Suggested Family Activity Leaf 🍁Prints

As trees 🌳 start to lose their 🍁 leaves, don’t forget that in addition to all the work it brings, there can also be a lot of fun to be had with fallen leaves.  One great arts and craft project idea is to make leaf 🍂 prints using paint and paper.  Have your children go outside and look for a fallen leaf that has a pretty shape.  (You can also look for unique shapes as you take a walk around your neighborhood.)   If rain 🌧 threatens to ruin your family’s leaf collecting, you can even pick a whole bag to keep for other craft projects and things to do over the next few weeks.

This project will be quite messy.  If the weather is nice 🌞 outside, why not go out to a sidewalk, porch, or other flat outdoor space to do your 🎨 painting?  Even if you decide to do the project inside, covering the area with newspapers 📰 or an old sheet or tablecloth will help with accidental spills 💧 and make clean-up go faster.  To make the leaf print, use a paintbrush 🖌 to coat one side of the leaf with paint.  Before you start painting, though, help your children look at both the front and back sides to decide which one will make the best imprint.  After the paint is applied, press the leaf onto a piece of 📄 paper.  Plain white paper will show the color they have chosen to its best advantage or a colored construction paper will have different results.  You may need to help them press down on the leaf gently to make sure all the paint 🎨 transfers to the paper 📄.

If you haven’t decorated a 🎃 pumpkin yet, Woman’s Day magazine has a fun and easy idea for a quick way to decorate a pumpkin without carving it.  They simply melted crayons 🖍 down the pumpkin to create a colorful effect.  To see how they did it, click here:

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Suggested Family Activity

Halloween 🎃 Kindness Cards

October is a time of ghosts 👻 and bats 🦇 and scary monsters 👹, but have you ever thought about spreading kindness 🙂 on Halloween, along with candy 🍫 treats?  The mom behind the website Coffee and Carpool suggests handing out Kindness Cards this year to go along with your usual selections.  What are Kindness Cards, you ask?  They are simple cards that have a positive ➕ message, such as “I love ❤ your costume” and “Hope you get lots of candy 🍬 tonight.”  To view them, click here:

Kindness Cards would also work well for those participating in the Teal Pumpkin 🎃 Project.  It is a national project that encourages families to also pass out non-food items (such as stickers 🏓 bubbles, erasers, ✏ small bouncing balls) to trick-or-treaters for kids who have food allergies, food sensitivities, or cannot have candy.  To find out more information about the project, click here:

It is never too early to teach children how to be kind 🙂 and to respect those who are different than they are.  Some titles available at your local library on the subject include It’s Okay to be Different by Todd Parr, All for Me and None for All by Helen Lester, The Berenstain Bears Kindness Counts, Cara’s Kindness by Kristi Yamaguchi, and I am Enough by Grace Byers.

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Suggested Family Activity • National Color Day 🌈

Today is National Color Day 🌈 a day to celebrate all the beautiful color that is around us.  Did you know that color can affect your mood or the way you feel about something?  Red, for example, is often used to show excitement, while blue is considered a calming color.  What is your favorite color?  Often, we use color in our home 🏠 to reflect our creativity 🎨 or we pick our favorite colors to wear on our clothing or on our belongings to reflect our personality.

One way to celebrate color today is to … well, color 🖍 Whether you use crayons, colored pencils ✏ markers or paint 🖌 you can celebrate all the shades rain of color found in the world.  Coloring as a relaxing hobby is not just for children anymore either.  Adults and teens are also enjoying the fun with coloring books and sheets made just for them.  There are lots of great coloring sheets available in NERL’s October activity packets – have you picked up yours at your local library yet?  We even have teen and adult coloring sheets that have fall and Halloween 🎃 themes so get yours today!

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Suggested Family Activity • Pumpkin 🎃 STEM Experiment

If you have a pumpkin 🎃 on your front porch or steps, you have everything you need to conduct a STEM experiment 🧪 with your children.  To learn how vegetable matter decomposes, have them make a chart 📊 or write down each day’s progress as the pumpkin rots.  Small children can draw pictures, while older children can record details 📝 about how the pumpkin looks, what the temperature 🌡 is outside ☁ and other details about the weather, such as if there is a frost or it rains.  They can even document how the outside of the pumpkin feels 🎃 if they are brave enough to touch it!  This experiment has just enough ‘yuck’ factor to entertain children of all ages.

If your children love all things oozing and slimy, check out these directions from the Little Bins Little Hands website to make pumpkin slime using liquid 💧 starch and school glue:   The website also talks about the science behind slime for those interested in the ‘Why’ behind it.

As you are waiting for your 🎃 to rot, check out some of the following titles at your local library branch:  How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? by Margaret McNamara, Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White, The Biggest Pumpkin Ever by Steven Kroll, The Pumpkin Runner by Marsha Arnold, and In a Pumpkin Shell: Over 20 Pumpkin Projects for Kids by Jennifer Storey Gillis.  Also don’t forget the Peanuts classic It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, available in both movie and book form.

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Suggested Family Activity • Winnie the Pooh’s 95th Anniversary

This month marks the 95th anniversary celebration of the publication of the first Winnie the Pooh book by A. A. Milne.  Illustrated by artist E. H. Shepard, the beloved stories have been treasured by generations around the world.   Which is your favorite character from the Hundred Acre Wood?  Do you prefer Pooh?  Or do you like adventurous Tigger or continually worried (but brave in the end) Piglet?  What about kind Kanga or wise Owl, gloomy Eeyore or workaholic Rabbit?  Let us know at  Your local library branch has lots of story books about the residents of the Hundred Acre Wood, as well as copies of all their movies, so check one today!

For this momentous occasion, Disney has released a new animated short in honor of the celebrations.  To view it, visit  Their website also has lots of other Pooh related information, such as craft projects, Hundred Acre Wood inspired snacks and food ideas, other short clips from classic Winnie the Pooh movies, and a downloadable storybook.  For more information about the making of the short, as well as other 95th anniversary happenings, also check out

NERL Director Dee Hare is crazy for all things Pooh related.  See pictures of her collection below!

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Suggested Family Activity • Clever 🎃 Costumes

If you like to make your children’s Halloween costumes, your local library has books available to give you inspiration.  Clever Costume Creating for Halloween: An A to Z Guide of 200 Costume Ideas by Suzanne Singleton and A Ghostly Good Time: The Family Halloween Handbook are good choices for ideas to fit any budget and skill level, from beginner on up.  For any experienced knitters out there, Monster Knits for Little Monsters by Nuriya Khegay contains twenty designs for animal themed hats, mittens, bootie sets and more to knit to give your little ones a costumed look for every day.  Costumes are not just for children either, Halloween: A Grown-up’s Guide to Creative Costumes, Devilish Decor & Fabulous Festivities by Joanne O’Sullivan and The Halloween Handbook: 447 Costumes by Bridie Clark has ideas for adults and older teens too.

To start getting kids into the Halloween spirit, check out some of these picture books featuring classic characters that they know and love: Clifford’s Halloween by Norman Bridwell, Curious George Goes to a Costume Party and Happy Halloween, Curious George by H. A. Rey, Froggy’s Halloween by Jonathan London, The Halloween Parade by Rosemary Wells, Minerva Louise on Halloween by Janet Morgan         Stoeke, Pug & Pig Trick-or-Treat by Sue Lowell Gallion, and Scaredy-Cat, Splat! by Rob Scotton.

Suggested Family Activity • National Bring Your Teddy Bear 🧸 to Work and School Day

Today is National Bring Your Teddy Bear to Work and School Day, a day to celebrate and show off your favorite stuffed Teddy.  Teddy bears bring a lot of comfort to people of all ages.  They are the perfect size to give a quick hug to get through a difficult time or to help young children fall asleep.  Your first Teddy bear is often a prized possession of many adults.  Some people even collect Teddy bears and have them displayed in their homes, in their vehicles, and in their office or work space.  Teddy bears are also a great gift idea to give to someone to cheer them up.

Did you know Teddy bears first became a ‘thing’ when President Theodore Roosevelt was on a hunting trip in the Mississippi Delta and refused to shoot a young bear cub that had been tied up?  Cartoonist Clifford Berryman even drew a cartoon for the prestigious Washington Post newspaper depicting the incident.  But when a New York store owner saw the cartoon, he decided to create a new toy – a Teddy bear – and an instant classic was born.

Send us pictures of your Teddy today at  Don’t forget to tell us if it has a special name, other than Teddy!

Suggested Family Activity • October Activity Packs 🎃

Have you picked up an October activity packet at your local library yet?  In the packet for children 6 and under, supplies are included to make both a Mosaic Paper Maple Leaf by tearing up pieces of crepe paper and gluing them to a leaf template and a Paper Plate Mummy craft project using one of our favorite basic items – white paper plates.  Another easy craft project idea for children joins together ideas from each of these projects – white paper plates and torn pieces of paper.  Children can make a Pumpkin decoration very simply with orange construction paper (or white paper colored orange) that is ripped into small pieces.  Children then glue the pieces to their paper plate.  (If you do not have any paper plates, you can just draw a pumpkin outline for them.)  Do not worry about filling in every spot – the messier the better!  Adults can then help them cut (or tear) a brown stem and some green leaves and maybe a vine wrapping around the plate to create the finishing pumpkin effect.

Another fun alternative for children (and adults) of all ages is to color a paper plate orange (or cut a pumpkin shape out of white or orange paper) and then cut apart an old magazine, looking for funny expressions on people’s faces or various parts (noses, eyes, mouth, etc.) to mix and match to make a face collage for their Jack o Lantern.  Everyone in the family can get into the fun and make one.  You can make your face scary, funny, or try to make it look like yourself!  Whatever you do, we would love to see a picture of it!  Send your pictures to

Suggested Family Activity • I Love Yarn 🧶 Day

Tomorrow is I Love Yarn Day.  Do you love to knit or crochet?  Have you always wanted to learn?  Check out these books from our collection to help you with your craft:  The Yarn Girls’ Guide to Simple Knits by Julie Carles, Colorful Crochet by Therese Hagstedt, Baby Knits Made Easy, Easy Toys: 25 Delightful Creations to Knit and Crochet, Hip to Knit: 18 Contemporary Projects for Today’s Knitter by Judith L. Swartz, Knits for Nerds: 30 Projets: Science Fiction, Comic Books, Fantasy by Toni Carr, Crochet a Zoo: Fun Toys for Baby and You by Megan Kreiner, Knitting a Kiss in Every Stitch: Creating Gifts for the People you Love by Nicky Epstein.

If you love reading works of fiction about knitting and crochet, check out The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club series by Gil McNeil and The Shop on Blossom Street series by Debbie Macomber.  If you like mysteries, check out some of Monica Ferris’s “Needlecraft” series set in a cozy craft shop, Maggie Sefton’s series set in a Colorado yarn store, one of the Seaside Knitters mysteries by Sally Goldenbaum, or the crochet mysteries by Betty Hechtman.

If you want to introduce children to a love for yarn, check out the picture books Angelita’s Magic Yarn by Doris Lecher, Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, Mr. Putter & Tabby Spin the Yarn by Cynthia Rylant, Knit Together by Angela Dominguez, or Knitting Nell by Julie J. Roth.  And if they are ready to learn the craft, get them Kids Knitting by Melanie Falick or Knitting for Children: 35 Simple Knits Kids Will Love to Make by Claire Montgomerie.

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Suggested Family Activity • Fall 🍂 Craft and Activity Packets

October is here and with it a new set of fall craft and activity packets for families and children of all ages!  Our seasonal themed packets have lots of fun things for everyone in your family, including:

A Family set that has activities such as a sheet to make a leaf rubbing, a Fall Bucket list, and a Resolve to Read 30 day reading challenge.  (A Family set is included in each 6 and under and 7-11 packet.)

A 6 and under set that includes a fall matching game, a cut and paste fall objects sheet, and other crossword puzzles, mazes, coloring sheets, and Mosaic Paper Maple Leaf and Paper Plate Mummy craft projects.

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A 7 – 11 set with activities that includes a How to Draw an Owl sheet, a scary story writing prompt, a STEM Design Challenge sheet, a soil experiment, other fun activity sheets, and Bat Launcher and STEM Hand craft projects.

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A 12 and up set that includes journal writing prompts, a STEM Design Challenge sheet, a Why Do Leaves Change Color science experiment, a sheet to create your own emojis, copies of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” and a retelling of the myth “Arachne and the Weaving Contest,” and Bat Launcher and Origami Owl craft projects. And we also have a new set of adult coloring sheets for fans of this relaxing pastime.  If you are an adult or teen who likes to color, ask for a packet of coloring sheets just for you!

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Each age group packet also contains a suggested reading list from NERL’s card catalog that is specific to that age group. And don’t worry, if your child is on the cusp of two groups or one of the other sets or craft projects sounds interesting, you are welcome to ask for multiple packets!  So stop by a branch of Northeast Regional Library soon to get your October packets.

Suggested Family Activity • National Do Something Nice 🙂 Day

Tomorrow is National Do Something Nice Day so try to take every opportunity you can over the next few days to do something nice for those around you.  Who knows?  Your kind deed could have the power to change the course of someone else’s day from a bad one to a good one.  It often doesn’t take much time at all to do something for someone else.  It could be as simple as letting someone go in front of you in line, holding the door open for someone, or picking up your neighbor’s newspaper out of their driveway and putting it on their doorstep.

Sometimes doing something nice can be as easy as listening to someone talk.  Maybe you can help someone with a problem they are having.  Or maybe an elderly neighbor or someone who lives alone just wants someone to visit with them.  All ages can get involved with doing nice things.  Children of all ages (and adults too!) can practice giving other people compliments, which is always a nice thing to do.  And anyone who drives can notice someone’s signal in traffic and allow them into your lane if it is safe to do so or let the other driver go first whenever possible.

Suggested Family Activity • Yard 🍁 & Garden 👩‍🌾

October is a great time to spend time outside working on your yard and cleaning up the remains of your summer garden.  It’s the perfect weather – slightly cooler temperatures and breezes make it more pleasant to spend an extended time outside.  Why not organize a family work party this weekend?  You can plant bulbs that will flower in the spring – annuals, such as pansies, violas, wildflowers are great ideas.  Or you can plant perennials, such as daylilies 🌷 irises, Shasta daisies 🌼 and peonies.  You can also pot herbs, such as basil, rosemary, and sage, to keep on a sunny windowsill inside this winter.  Other fall tasks that you could do include removing limbs and debris from your yard, cutting out dead limbs from trees 🌲 so they don’t fall during winter storms, and removing or mulching fallen leaves.  All ages of the family can get involved with this activity.  While adults are wielding pruning shears and chainsaws, younger children can drag limbs to the side of the road or help dig holes for plantings.  And when you are finished for the day, the cooler temperatures make it pleasant to spend time outside relaxing on a blanket, in lawn chairs, or hanging out on a porch or patio.  For more information about fall gardening chores from the experts at the Mississippi State Extension Service, check out their website at

September 2021 Suggested Family Activities

Suggested Family Activity • Entertaining 🧸Toddlers

If you are looking for ways to entertain your toddler, while also gently teaching them kindness, empathy, and responsibility, try these activities:  Give them a doll or plush toy, and encourage your child to hold, talk, dress, and take care of it for the day.  Demonstrate what kind of behavior you expect to see in this ‘game’ by showing your child how to treat their doll or stuffed animal gently instead of being rough with it.  Also show them how to talk to it in a nice tone of voice and ask your child to mimic how and what you say.  This fun activity also encourages their creativity and imagination, as well as their language and social skills.

Another fun activity for young children is to hide a toy somewhere in the room or house, depending on how mobile they are, and ask them to find it.  Use verbal cues such as “warmer” and “colder” to guide them.  This is also a great time to work on directional concepts, such as “left,” “right,” “up,” “down,” etc.  If you hide the object in a dark area, it will also be fun to use flashlights to helpthem look.

For more learning activities and entertaining coloring sheets for pre-school aged children, don’t forget to pick up your Early Literacy activity packet before September ends.  It has sheets to help your child learn letters, numbers, and colors, as well as two sheets of practice paper to start practicing writing their name or letters.

Suggested Family Activity • National Good Neighbor 🏡 Day

Tomorrow is National Good Neighbor 🏡 Day, a day set aside each year to remind everyone that it is a great idea to get to know their neighbors.  Why is it important to know your neighbors?  Neighbors can watch out for each other when one of them is not at home or during times of stormy or wintry weather.  Neighbors can also lend a helping hand to each other, whether it is to help remove a tree limb from their yard or keep an eye on pets when you’re not at home.  Sometimes our neighbors stay our friends, even if one of you moves away.

🌳 🏡 🌳 🏘 🌳

To have a good neighbor relationship, you have to be a good neighbor in return.  So if you see someone in your neighborhood who needs help with something, whether it is mowing their yard occasionally or carrying a heavy package in for them, give them a few minutes of your time.  If you have extra produce from your garden, why not share them with a neighbor?  Or if you bake cookies for your family, take a few to a neighbor.  And don’t forget that it is always neighborly of you to check on people in your neighborhood who live alone.  Many times, they will be grateful for a short visit to get to talk to someone.

Suggested Family Activity • Better Breakfast Day 🧇🍳🥓

September is Better Breakfast Month 🧇🍳🥓a time to celebrate what some people believe to be the most important meal of the day.  Taking time to eat breakfast can have helpful health benefits, as many nutritionists believe that starting your day by eating a regular morning meal can help control weight by setting a pattern of eating smaller, healthy meals throughout the day.  Eating first thing in the morning also gives our bodies energy to get through our day.  Children who have a healthy breakfast before school often think more clearly and behave better while they are at school.

A great breakfast should contain a balance of all the major food groups – protein, dairy, fat, and carbohydrates. Including some of each in your breakfast will help you to make it to your next meal without resorting to mindless snacking.  It also may help improve your family bonding if your family makes a habit grabbing a quick bite to eat together each morning before everyone heads out the door.

Sunday, September 26 is Better Breakfast Day 🧇🍳🥓 What will you eat for breakfast?  Cereal, milk, and a banana?  Pancakes, waffles, or French toast?  Toast, sausage, or bacon?  If you need ideas for new things to try for breakfast, check out some of the cookbooks available at your local library branch, including Morning Food: Breakfasts, Brunches & More for Savoring the Best Part of the Day by Margaret S. Fox and A Real American Breakfast: The Best Meal of the Day, Anytime of the Day by Cheryl Alters Jamison.


We would love to see what you eat for breakfast!  Send pictures of your awesome breakfasts to

Suggested Family Activity • Dear Diary 📔 Day

Today is Dear Diary Day, a special time to celebrate the little book that holds all our most precious memories, as well as a few secrets!  There are many benefits of writing in a diary or keeping a journal.  The activity is a great stress reliever as writing down our thoughts and feelings ‘gets them out of our system’ and tends to make us feel better.  Writing down funny family incidents that happen day to day also helps us to remember them. Sure, you remember what happened on special events, but do you remember what happened today, five years ago?  How many times has your child said something funny that you want to remember but forget to write down?  If you keep a diary or a journal, you will have precious memories both large and small written down forever.  Keeping a diary or journal also helps us to sharpen our writing skills, vocabulary, and other language skills.  If you do not have a diary or a journal, consider starting one today.


Today is also the date of the Autumnal Equinox and the first day of fall 🍂🍁 Although many people consider fall to begin after Labor Day, the official start is always on the Autumnal Equinox for those in the Northern Hemisphere.  Why?  Because this day is one of two each year when most places on Earth see the sun rise and set at due east and due west, giving us exactly 12 hours of daylight and 12 of darkness.  When this happens twice a year, the sun can be seen directly overhead along the equator, and the result is a change in the seasons.

Suggested Family Activity • Responsible Dog 🐶 Ownership Day

Tomorrow is Responsible Dog Ownership Day so take plenty of time this weekend to give love and affection to your doggie friends.  Dogs need basic things, such as food, water, and a warm place to sleep, but responsible dog ownership goes much farther than that.  Dogs, just like humans, need medical care and check-ups, as well as exercise to stay healthy.  They also get lonely while their humans are away at work and school during the day so catch up on some quality time cuddling and playing with them this weekend.  To help them get some exercise, grab a ball, frisbee, or chew toy to play with outside.  Caring for a pet is a big responsibility but the great thing is that everyone in the family can get involved with caring for them.  Little ones can help fill food bowls and check for clean, fresh water every day.  They also love helping take dogs for walks or playing with them outside.

If you are thinking of getting a dog or puppy anytime soon, there are books waiting for you at your local library that will help you know what to expect:  101 Questions Your Dog Would Ask its Vet: What’s Bothering Your Dog and How to Solve its Problems by Helen Dennis, The Complete Guide to Mutts: Selection, Care, and Celebration from Puppyhood to Senior by Margaret H. Bonham, 97 Ways to Make a Dog Smile by Jenny Langbehn, The Art of Raising a Puppy by the Monks of New Skete and Be the Pack Leader: Use Cesar’s Way to Transform Your Dog– and Your Life by Cesar          Millan are just a few.

 We would love to see pictures of your family’s dogs!  Send them to us at

Suggested Family Activity • National Kids 🍅🥕🥔 Take Over The Kitchen Day

Today is National Kids Take Over The Kitchen Day, a day when children and teens can give their parents and caregivers a break and cook up a delicious meal for their family.  Or, if you have little ones, it’s a great day to introduce them to the steps involved in making a meal.  Helping with the planning, preparation, and cooking of meals is also a great way to spend time together as a family.  Did you know children who help out with preparing meals tend to make healthier food choices?  And families who eat meals together feel more connected as they have a chance to hear about each other’s day without the distraction of phones, television, or the internet.

Other national day celebrations coming up this week that you can use for food inspiration include National Eat a Hoagie Day tomorrow on Tuesday, September 14th.  Sandwiches, or hoagies, are a great beginner item for children who can’t reach the stove or microwave to fix.  Plus, everyone can personalize it with whatever bread, meat, cheese, and toppings they like.  Tuesday is also National Cream Filled Donut Day and while donuts might be too complicated to try to cook at home, your family could incorporate them as a side item for breakfast or as a special dessert for supper.

The second Tuesday in September every year is National Ants on A Log Day.  Ants on a Log are a healthy snack that is easy to teach someone how to make.  This classic 1950s snack and appetizer is made by spreading peanut butter on pieces of celery and placing raisins on top.  Wednesday, September 15th is National Cheese Toast Day, which is another classic creation that is very easy to make.  Cheese toast, which is different from grilled cheese sandwiches, is made by placing cheese on a single piece of bread and toasting it until the bread is crispy and the cheese is melted.  Adult supervision with operating the oven will be necessary, but it is a great snack or meal that anyone can do.  Like grilled cheeses, cheese toast is also great when it is eaten with soup.

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Suggested Family Activity • Outdoor 🏃‍♀️ 🏁 🏃‍♂️ Fun

If you’re looking for some fun ideas to get your family outside and moving around this weekend, check out some of these great classic activities:

Remember sack races?  Introduce your children to the fun, but challenging, game by marking off a start and finish line 🏁 outside.  Traditionally, burlap sacks have been used but you can substitute large pillowcases for small children or sleeping bags for adults and older kids.  Another classic field day and family reunion game is the two-legged race, where you tie together the right leg of one person to the left leg of the second person and see if they can make it to the finish line without falling over.

Yet another classic outdoor game to try this weekend is hopscotch, which can be played by one person or several.  An adult will need to draw the hopscotch pattern on a porch, patio, or sidewalk with chalk using the following pattern:  Squares 1, 2, and 3 are stacked on top of each other.  Squares 4 and 5 are drawn next to each other.  Then squares 5, and 6 are stacked on top of each other.  The pattern ends with squares 7 and 8 next to each other in a double pattern and single squares for 9 and 10.  There are many ways to play hopscotch, depending on how many people are playing.  The following is just one version:

The first person throws a small stone or other small place marker into the first square. They then try to hop on one foot into the first empty square (#2), and then every subsequent empty square, skipping the square that the marker is on.   At the pairs (4-5 and 7-8), they jump with both feet.  When they reach square 10, they hop with both feet, turn around, and head back toward the starting point (#1).  When they reach the square with the place marker again, they pick up the marker, while on one foot, and go back through the numbers again.  If they can finish without any mistakes, they pass the marker to the next player for them to try.  If they are playing by themselves, they start the process over by placing the marker on square 2.  And on and on … If anyone falls, jumps outside the lines, or misses a square or the marker, their turn is over and they must repeat the same number on their next turn. Whichever player gets through the whole course with the marker at square 10, wins.

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Suggested Family Activity • Dinosaur🐱‍🐉 Craft

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Do your kids love dinosaurs and doing arts and crafts projects?  If you have some paper plates, you can let them make their own dinosaur today.  Grab a plain white paper plate and cut it in half to be the body of the dino.  Children color the body whatever color they want, using crayons, markers, or paint.  Maybe they will make a green dinosaur or maybe it will be a  pink, purple, or blue one.  (You can also use left-over colored plates from birthday parties to make a body).  After they have colored the body, help them draw and cut out pieces to glue to the paper plate to finish their dino friend.  Draw a long neck and head to make an apatosaurus or one with three horns to make a triceratops.  Or add spines down the dinosaur’s back to turn it into a stegosaurus or an ankylosaur.  Don’t forget to add a tail (short and stumpy or long and curved) and legs to finish out their dinosaur.

If your family would like to do more dinosaur arts and craft projects, check out Crafts for Kids who are Wild about Dinosaurs by Kathy Ross.  Young children just venturing into the world of dinosaurs will enjoy Fly Guy Presents: Dinosaurs by Tedd Arnold and Little Kids First Big Book of Dinosaurs by National Geographic.  Older children who love dinosaurs will want to check out some of the great non-fiction books available at your local library branch.  They include Bill Nye the Science Guy’s Great Big Dinosaur Dig, Dinosaur A to Z by Dustin Growick, and A Dinosaur Named Sue: The Story of the Colossal Fossil: The World’s Most Complete T. Rex by Patricia Relf.

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Suggested Family Activity • Labor Day & Read a Book 📗 Day

The first Monday of every September is set aside as Labor Day, a day to honor all those who work and labor in America’s workforce.  Labor Day also signals the official end of summer, so it is a perfect time for those who work hard all year to take a day to do something fun.

This year, Labor Day also coincides with National Read A Book Day, so combine the two celebrations by spending today relaxing and reading a great book.  In addition to reading your own book today, don’t forget about reading books out loud to your children or other members of the family.  Even older family members or neighbors will enjoy being read to, especially if it is difficult for them to see books themselves.  Children can get into the fun too, by reading out loud to other family members, reading to their pets, or even just reading to their favorite stuffed animals.

All NERL branches are closed today but make sure to visit one sometime this week to pick up lots of great books to read.  Whether you like fiction, such as romances, mysteries, thrillers or westerns or non-fiction titles, such as self-help categories, history or religious studies, your local library has just the book for you!  Branches even have audio books on CD and MP3, large-print books, and digital books through our website at

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Suggested Family Activity • National Food 🍴🥔 Bank Day

Today is National Food Bank Day, a day set aside each year to encourage people to help at their local food banks.  Maybe you can donate cash or nonperishable food items to a local food bank.  Or maybe you can donate your time to volunteer to sort donated items or hand them out.  Whatever you choose to do, your efforts will be appreciated by those in need.

Now is also a good time to get a head start on colder weather by pulling out all your long sleeve shirts, jeans and pants, coats, sweaters, hats, scarves, thick socks, gloves, and mittens to get them organized for winter.  As you are getting the items organized, check to see what items your family may have outgrown or do not want to wear anymore.  Don’t forget to also check to see if anyone has too many of certain items, such as socks.  While you are cleaning out and taking stock of your winter clothes, you can also go through other items in your home to see what you do not want or need anymore.  Any ‘extras’ can be donated to groups and organizations who pass items along to those who need them.

Suggested Family Activity • Back-to-School 🏫 Early Literacy Activity Packet

Starting today, all NERL branches will begin handing out a Back-to-School Early Literacy activity packet.  Inside it, you will find lots of great activities to introduce young children to the joy of learning, such as connect the dots and mazes, as well as sheets that help them with their sight words, shapes, and colors.  The packet also contains sheets that show them how to start writing their numbers and letters, and we’ve even included two primary tablet sheets for them to practice them on.  While most of the activity sheets are aimed at children ages 6 years old and younger, there are also coloring sheets inside each packet that are suitable for any age, as well as a “Have Fun Reading” choice board sheet that will be fun for the whole family.  And don’t worry – we didn’t forget the craft project!  Each packet also contains everything your child needs to make a cute Red Apple.  We hope your family enjoys our fun-filled fall packet of things to do.  Get yours today!

We also have a new set of adult coloring sheets for fans of this relaxing pastime.  If you are an adult or teen who likes to color, ask for a packet of coloring sheets just for you. We would love to see photos of what you and your family have created with our packets and Suggest Family Activity ideas!  Send them to for us to post on our website.

August 2021 Suggested Family Activities

Suggested Family Activity • National Trail Mix candy 🥜🥨 Day

Tomorrow is National Trail Mix Day so get ready today by making up a batch of the delicious and healthy treat.  The mix was originally developed as a nutritious snack to be taken along on hikes because it is lightweight, easy to store and good for you.  Traditional versions have dried fruits (such as raisins, cherries or pineapple pieces), nuts (such as peanuts, cashews or almonds), loose granola and even chocolate chips or M&Ms!  In honor of National Trail Mix Day tomorrow, try making your family’s own version to take with you on your next family walk or for any time you’re craving a great snack.  Child-friendly versions can include pretzels or pretzel sticks, Goldfish or other small crispy snacks, or small cereal pieces like Cheerios or Chex.  To add a little sweetness, you can add marshmallows, something chocolate, or you can even get fancy with yogurt covered raisins.  Package your homemade trail mix in individual snack bags so that family members can enjoy their own servings without worrying about spreading germs with one large bag everyone sticks their hand into!

Suggested Family Activity • National Thoughtful 💭 Day

Tomorrow is National Thoughtful Day so spend some time this weekend showing others how much you appreciate and value them.  Family members of all ages can participate – there are things that any age from children to teens to adults can do to show their appreciation for someone else.  Handwritten notes, cards, and drawings can be done by any age and sent to friends and families far away (or an elderly neighbor on your street who doesn’t get a lot of mail).  You could also help an elderly family member or neighbor with their shopping, carrying packages inside for them, or bringing their garbage can back to their house.  Adults or teens could even mow a neighbor’s yard for them or help in their garden.  You could also bake cookies or a cake to give to someone who could use a special treat.  Or you could even surprise your co-workers next week with donuts or coffee for everyone.

You can also show appreciation for random strangers today by greeting people you see in stores or holding doors open for them.   If you have fresh flowers blooming in your yard or garden, you could take a bouquet to neighbors or places such as nursing homes to brighten a stranger’s day.  And don’t forget, one of the best things you can share with someone is your time, so take your children (or help out a friend by taking their children) outside to play or to a park.  Children always appreciate special time just for them.

Suggested Family Activity • Drawing 🎶 Lyrics

A fun activity today that will encourage your child’s language and storytelling skills, as well as their creativity, starts by pulling out some paper and crayons or markers.  Pick one of your child’s favorite songs to sing (or let them pick) and start drawing a simple picture of what is happening in the lyrics as you sing.  Draw just one part and then take turns with your child filling in additional parts. Here are some examples to get you started:  If you sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” you will take turns drawing stars, the night sky, and a diamond.  If you sing “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider,” you will draw the spider, rain, the waterspout, the sun, etc.  If your child loves the “Baby Shark” song, you will draw all different sizes of the sharks in the song.  And for a long drawing session, you could even sing “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” and draw all the animals mentioned.  After you have taken turns drawing, encourage your child to use their own imagination and draw a picture on their own as you sing or even make up their own song to sing and draw a picture of what is happening in it.

Suggested Family Activity • You’ve Got 📫 Mail

Children love to receive mail.  Have them create a mailbox today by recycling and reusing an old shoe box or small cardboard box and cutting a slit in the top.  Let them decorate it by covering it with paper (patterned or plain) and using crayons, markers, stickers, etc. to personalize it.  Then, make a few cute cards and letters to ‘send’ to your child to give them the thrill of opening mail intended just for them.  Don’t forget to recruit other family members to write letters and notes so that they have something to open every day.  You can also put your household junk mail in their mailbox for children to ‘help’ you open.  They will also enjoy playing ‘post office’ by helping to hand out the real mail to other members of their family. 

After they have had the fun of receiving 📮 mail, let them enjoy the feeling of pride and satisfaction that comes from sending a letter or card to someone.  With paper and pencil (or markers, crayons, etc. if you have them), they can create short notes and cards to send to loved ones or drop off at neighbors’ houses to brighten their day.  Even if they or you 📧 hand deliver the cards and notes, this activity could be a great introduction in how to address an envelope and where the stamp goes.  And one final hint – stickers make a great pretend stamp, although some children might like to design their own stamps.

Suggested Family Activity • Digital Resources

These days, more and more people are turning to digital resources such as E-books and E-audios as they go about their daily lives.  Electronic books, also called E-books, are books that have been converted to a digital format for use on devices such as computers and laptops, smart phones, or e-book readers, such as a Nook or a Kindle.  You need an internet connection to initially download the book but after that, readers can be used almost anywhere and at any time.  Although many people still prefer the traditional book format (or a combination of both), some of the benefits of these devices are that they are portable and can hold many titles at once.  Many people who must commute to work or drive long distances regularly enjoy the benefits of downloading e-audios to their devices so that books can be listened to by syncing their devices with their vehicles.  NERL branches have many patrons who are truck drivers or factory workers who enjoy listening to e-audios during the day to help them pass the time. Did you know NERL has two options available for e-book and e-audio users?  Hoopla is a digital materials service made possible through a pilot program with the Mississippi Library Commission.  Thousands of e-books and e-audios, including titles for both children and adults, can be found through this service.  Hoopla has even recently added a new feature that allows you to listen to audio books through smart TVs, such as those that use Roku, Android TV, Apple TV, and Chromecast.  Support is even available for those with Alexa devices, so that you can tell Alexa to play your audio book while you are at home! NERL also belongs to the Mississippi Library Consortium through the digital service OverDrive.  Using their Libby app, you can borrow digital titles purchased by any library in the state.  To find more information about these services, visit the homepage of the NERL website and look under the MENU option for “Digital Services”.  You can also call your local library branch for one-on-one assistance.

Suggested Family Activity • Summer 🏃‍♀️ Olympics

The summer Olympics may be over but there’s still plenty of time to get your family involved in Olympics inspired activities.  You can teach young children to do a flip, handstand, or a cartwheel like gymnasts or place down a piece of painter’s tape to mimic a balance beam or tightrope and let them try to walk from one end to the other without ‘falling off’.  You can give them a hula hoop or lengths of ribbon or crepe paper tied to a stick to practice the artistic swirls of rhythmic gymnastics.  Events such as baseball and basketball are Olympic sports, so get your family separated into teams for some outdoor fun.  Children can even mimic Olympic weightlifters by having competitions to see who can lift a can of vegetables or soup (the larger the better) the most times.  Track and field events are also popular Olympic sports, so let them compete to see who can run the fastest, jump the highest, or throw a frisbee the farthest.  You can even make small hurdles (pillows work well to prevent injuries) for them to jump over.

Suggested Family Activity • Self 📸 Portraits

Children love to draw or color the people around them, which can sometimes be an eye-opening experience for their adult caregivers!  Have them try their hand at making self-portraits today to get them thinking about the different parts that make up their face and hair.  Plain paper will work fine, but if you have any white paper plates, they make an excellent form on which to draw face.  Crayons and markers work well but other types of craft supplies could also produce interesting results if you have them.  Let them try buttons, beads, pipe cleaners, or pom poms to make facial features or just let them cut out eye and hair pieces out of colored paper.  Another fun option is to cut different nose, eye, hair, and other features from old magazines, and let them use those to create a fun self-portrait.

To keep the fun going after they have made their self-portrait, they can continue to make funny creatures or silly faces.  Maybe they will make a monster or a fairy or an animal of some sort.  After they have finished, encourage them to tell you a story about their creation.  Working on this project with help expand their imagination and creative skills, as well as work on their language and physical dexterity in cutting and gluing the pieces.

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Suggested Family Activity • Elvis 🕺🎙 Week

Karaoke with Elvis: George E Allen LibraryElvis Week 2021 kicks off today and lasts through August 17.  Held annually during the anniversary of his death, it gives people all around the world a chance to remember the music pioneer.  Elvis Aaron Presley, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, was born on January 8, 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi.  His birthplace, a simple two-room home, is a tourist destination for many.  (For more information, visit  His family relocated to nearby Memphis, Tennessee when he was 13, a city that would forever remain his home.  After his success as an entertainer, he built a large mansion in Memphis known as Graceland.  Almost ten years after his death, it was opened to

the public as a museum.  In the years since, it has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places (the first site related to rock and roll to be listed) and declared a National Historic Landmark, also a first for such a site. It is the most-visited privately owned home (his daughter, Lisa Marie Presley is the current owner) in America, with over 650,000 visitors a year.  In comparison, other publicly owned houses in the U. S. include the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina, Hearst Castle in California and the White House.  For more information about Graceland, including a Live Cam view of the estate, visit

To remember Elvis and his legacy this week, play some of his hit songs, such as “Blue Suede Shoes” or “Jailhouse Rock” and watch some of his movies.  Blue Hawaii, G. I. Blues, Harum Scarum, and Viva Las Vegas are some of the titles available at your local library branches.

Suggested Family Activity • National Book 📕 Lover’s Day

Today is National Book Lovers Day so what better way to celebrate it than by making a visit to your nearest public library?  Are you looking for lively picture books to read to your family?  Family Reunion by Chad Richardson follows a young boy’s journey to understand the joy and beauty of gathering with extended family while Bethany Carr’s board book I Love My Family is created to be a short but sweet treat for little ones just learning how to sit through a story.  Marshmallow Pie: The Cat Superstar by Clara Vulliamy is the start of a new picture book series that finds Marshmallow’s new owners wanting to turn him into an internet star.  Children just learning how to read on their own will enjoy Splat the Cat: A Whale of a Tale, a Level 1 title in the “I Can Read” series, while graphic novel readers will enjoy the newest title in the “Bots” series by Russ Bolts, Attack of the ZomBots!

Library staff are happy to help you find something fun and exciting things to read, whether you like fiction or non-fiction, classic or contemporary writers, or any in the wide variety of genres the library carries, such as westerns, political intrigue, romances, mystery, science fiction, fantasy, and more.  After you’ve picked out a good book to read today, take it to your favorite reading spot and read the day away!

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Suggested Family Activity • National 🩳 Underwear Day

Today is National Underwear 🩳 Day so remember to wear your underwear today!

Children love all sorts of humorous tales about underwear so check out some of these picture books titles from your local library today:  Attack of the Underwear Dragon by Scott Rothman, Creepy Pair of Underwear! by Aaron Reynolds, One Big Pair of Underwear by Laura Gehl, and Something’s Wrong!: A Bear, a Hare, and Some Underwear by Jory John.  Children’s book author and illustrator Claire Freedman even has a whole series of picture books about underwear: Dinosaurs Love Underpants, Monsters Love Underpants, and Pirates love Underpants.

This weekend is National Play Outside Day so hopefully it won’t be 🌧 raining.  Scratch that!  Rain can be really fun ☔ to play in, so don’t let the rain stop you!  Have fun outside this weekend, rain or shine (unless there is lightning, of course)!  It is also National Root Beer Float Day, so don’t forget to have a cold root beer mixed with 🍨 ice cream.  Today is the perfect day to enjoy them mixed together!

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Suggested Family Activity • Sun ☀ Prints

☀ We have been in the middle of a heat wave, with temperatures outside soaring into the 90s.  Take advantage of the sun shining down to create some Sun Prints today.  Sun prints are what happens when you leave an object on a colored piece of paper so that the sun fades the paper but there is a darker space left where the object shields the paper from the sun’s rays.  To make this fun art activity at home, construction paper works best as it fades easily.  Have your children collect several different kinds of objects to experiment with different end results.

Many people use natural objects, such as leaves 🍃 or flowers 🌼 to create sun prints.  But children can try some of their toys 🪀 or odd shaped household items 🛠 to design a great pattern.  Leave your objects on the paper in full sun and check on them often to see how they are progressing.

You can even turn this into a STEM activity by having children make a prediction for how long they think it will take before the paper fades, as well as doing tests to see if different colors fade faster than others.  Children can also test if different types, sizes, or shapes of objects work better than others.

Suggested Family Activity • Family ♥ and Friendship 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦

As we begin the month of August, there are several important National Day celebrations that illustrate the importantance of families and friends – Respect for Parents Day, American Family Day, National Friendship Day and National Sisters Day.  Wow, that’s a mouthful!  And a lot of celebrations packed into just one day!  National Respect for Parents Day highlights how important it is to show your respect for your parents, no matter how old you are.  Children should not make fun of their parents, roll their eyes at them, or speak to them with an ugly tone in their voice.  Instead, they should speak to their parents with a pleasant tone and pay close attention to them, as well as do what they say and do what they are asked to do. 

For National American Family Day, there are so many great things that can be done while enjoying your family time!  Outdoor activities are nice, such as hiking, biking, picnicking, or playing at a park.  Fun indoor activities include playing board games, putting together puzzles, or spending time reading.  The main thing is being together and connecting as a family.  When you are having family time, try to disconnect from technology for a while…unless the family decides to use technology for their time together (such as a virtual family day) when family is separated for some reason. 

National Friendship Day is the perfect time to gather with your closest friends or maybe just one special friend.  On this day, make a point to concentrate on your time spent together.  Put away your phone and get rid of any other distractions so that you can truly give your friend or friends the “gift” of your time and attention.  There are many things friends may choose to do together.  You may just want to “chill” together or you may wish to visit while you eat a meal.  Whatever way you decide to spend your time together, just “be there” for your friends. 

National Sisters Day is a chance for sisters to get together!  If you have a sister, make sure to carve out some special time during this day to visit with her.  If you don’t have a sister, maybe you can adopt someone to be a sister for this special day.  The ideas are endless for how sisters may wish to spend their time.  The main thing is to be giving of your time and attention.

All of these national day events for the first of August are wonderful, so pick one or more of them and enjoy your time!

July 2021 Suggested Family Activities: Summer Reading Edition

Suggested Family Activity • Tie 🍥 Dye

Tie-dye patterns have been a popular Do-It-Yourself option for upgrading plain T- shirts for decades.  Today, the method remains a stylish and affordable way to express your creativity with splashes of color.  This weekend, why not get the whole family involved in tie-dying fun and colorful items to wear?  The activity does not require many supplies – a piece of clothing and some tie dye solution are the main things you will need.  Tie dye solution (Ritz is the most popular) can be found at most discount stores in a variety of colors for just a few dollars.  Some solutions require you to submerge the item in the dye, so you’ll need a large bucket or plastic container if you purchase that kind.  Other types are in smaller bottles that give you more precision with how you apply various colors all at once.  You will need something to use to wrap around your items to make the white parts of your design.  Rubber bands are commonly used for this, but you can also experiment with making smaller, more intricate designs with tightly bound twine or string.  Don’t forget to protect your workspace with newspaper or plastic to avoid stains (or try the activity outside for stress-free fun).

Suggested Family Activity • It’s National Milk Chocolate 🍫🥛 Day

Today is National Milk Chocolate Day, a day to celebrate all things good and chocolatey.  You might enjoy this classic sweet in a variety of ways, such as making smores, baking chocolate chip cookies 🍪 or having a plain chocolate bar 🍫.  You can also heat chocolate pieces to drizzle on plain cookies, cakes, or even popcorn.  Or you can add it to milk to make chocolate milk (adults could add melted chocolate to a coffee drink for a sweet surprise!) or use it on your favorite ice cream 🍦.  The book Chocolate Lover’s Cookbook for Dummies by Carole Bloom, and others like it at your public library, will give you lots of great ideas for how to cook up a chocolate treat today.  If you are interested in learning how chocolate is made, check out the book Beans to Chocolate by Inez Snyder in the “How Things are Made” series.

Young children will enjoy the pictures books Curious George Goes to the Chocolate Factory by H. A. Rey, Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake by Michael B. Kaplan, or A Chocolate Moose for Dinner by Fred Gwynne today, while chapter book readers might like The Chocopocalypse by Chris Callaghan, the classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, or The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis.  There are also lots of great titles for adult readers to enjoy – Joanne Harris’ first novel Chocolat, which was also made into a feature film, or one of several chocolate related mystery series such as the “Chocoholic” series by JoAnna Carl; Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, a Hannah Swensen bakery mystery by Joanne Fluke; or Death by Chocolate, a Savannah Reid mystery by G. A. McKevett.

Librarian Stacy Hull at Blue Mountain Library enjoyed these for Milk Chocolate Day!

Suggested Family Activity • Summer 🍅🥒🍉 Gardens

Many summer gardens are producing lots of great fruits and vegetables right now so take advantage of the variety of local produce available to get some fresh and healthy food for your family.  Selections can be picked up from several places – your favorite grocery store, Farmer’s Markets located in many communities, or just roadside stands run by people who want to share their extra produce.  This would also be a great time for your family to try out a new food.  You may be familiar with foods such as tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, blueberries, and melons, but have you tried all the different kinds of squash available?  Or maybe eggplants or asparagus?  The produce aisles at local grocery stores are filled with lots of potential new things, so why not try some today?  Maybe you’ll reach for some kiwi, mango, or pomegranates.  Or maybe you’ll try some raw spinach or Brussel sprouts.

Trying out a new food is fun for all ages.  Children who are exposed to a healthy array of food choices are more likely to grow into healthy adults who eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.  Many children have aversions to vegetables and anything ‘green’ but letting them help you pick out new foods to try is a great activity to try to kindle their enthusiasm about trying new things.  Have them look at all the colors of fruits and vegetables, as well as looking at the different sizes and shapes made by nature.  After you get home and decide whether to try your selection raw or cooked, they can help look up recipes, as well as help to prepare it.  Sharing a new dish as a family also helps children avoid feeling as if they are being punished by having to eat vegetables and fruit.  So, make trying out a new fruit or vegetable a fun family adventure today!

Suggested Family Activity • Disc ⛳ Golf

If you are looking for a fun activity to do outside, disc golf is gaining in popularity everywhere.  And one of the best things about it is all you need to start the fun is a disc (a special disc golf one or just a frisbee) and a course to play on.  Some city parks departments have started incorporating disc golf courses within their parks and along walking trails.

  • City parks in our area that have courses include Corinth, Booneville, New Albany, and Tupelo
  • Nearby courses in Tennessee include ones in Crump, Savannah, Bolivar, and Henderson, as well as one in Red Bay, Alabama
  • National parks have also had disc golf courses for several years, so check out the ones at nearby Pickwick Landing State Park, Tishomingo State Park, or Tombigbee State Park in Tupelo

It is even easy to make a simple outdoor disc golf set up at home if you have tomato cages and laundry baskets.  Just push the cage down in the ground and nestle the basket in the top of the cage.  Another super fun throwing activity to try outdoor involves scattering plastic pink flamingos around your yard and using small hoops to throw at the flamingo’s necks.

Suggested Family Activity • Picnic 🧺

Before the summer ends, make sure you go on a picnic one day.  You can pack a traditional picnic in a wicker basket or just grab some snacks and sandwiches and head outside with a blanket to enjoy your food.  Take time to sit and really enjoy nature, whether you stay at home in your backyard or go to a nearby park.  Make sure to spend at least part of the day barefoot to enjoy the tickly sensation of walking on the grass. 🦶 You can even plan to make a whole day of it and take pillows for relaxing while you read a book.  You could also grab some coloring books and crayons 🖍 or other art supplies, such as pencils ✏ paper 📄 and paints 🎨 to try your hand at drawing and painting the natural world around you.

When your kids need to run off some energy, get the whole family together to have a 🎈 water balloon fight.  Try to stay out all day so you can catch the sunset 🌇 and have fun watching (and catching) fireflies.  Or you can wait to start your picnic time outdoors after adults are home from work.  Picnicking later in the evening by taking your supper outside to enjoy is a fun activity to try out anytime with your family.

Suggested Family Activity • Shark 🦈 Shapes

For a combination craft project and learning activity, try out this fun idea:  On a piece of paper or cardboard, draw a picture of a shark’s head with its mouth spread wide open (or find an image online to print out).  Cut out the mouth area from the center of the picture.  Don’t forget to draw some shark teeth around the whole mouth!  Use tape, such as painter’s tape, to secure it in place up against a table, box, or anywhere else that will allow the shark to stand up and still have some space behind it.  Next, cut out some fish shapes from colored paper (or use white paper and have your children help you color them).  On each fish, draw numbers, letters, or sight words, depending on what your child needs help learning or reinforcing.  Alphabet letters and simple numbers are great for preschoolers, while children getting ready for kindergarten can benefit from using simple sight words.  You can even leave some fish blank and use those to work on the words for colors.

Let your child help you cut out the fish shapes, which is a great cutting activity that lets them learn how to handle scissors safely.  Once the fish are cut out, put them next to the shark and then let the children explore and play.  When they place a fish in the shark’s mouth, tell them the color.  Soon, they will begin telling you the colors of the fish!  The same goes for numbers and sight words that you use.  Gently reinforce the concept to the child until they can repeat it back to you.  You can also turn this activity into a matching game and let them match up fish with others of the same color.

Great book suggestions to go with this activity include Shawn Loves Sharks by Curtis Manley, Don’t Eat the Babysitter! by Nick Ward, Shark Vs. Train by Chris Barton, and Never Take a Shark to the Dentist (And Other Things Not to Do) by Judi Barrett.

Suggested Family Activity • Painting 🐟 Fish

The website has a really great idea for how you and your family can paint fish with your fingerprints.  Check out a sample picture and instructions here.  Did you check out a NERL Story Walk at a walking trail near you this summer?  Unfortunately, we have had to take some of our Story Walks down because of damage and theft but you still have another week to check out the story of The Pout- Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen at the town of Tishomingo Walking Trail located at 63 County Road 108 in Tishomingo.  (To view a list of the remaining Story Walks, check the list of Story Walks under our Summer Reading Program information at  Other fun titles about our fishy friends that you can check out from a library branch to read to your family this week include others in the “Pout-Pout Fish” series, The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School and The Pout-Pout Fish in the Big-Big Dark, The Birthday Fish by Dan Yaccarino, Hooray for Fish! by Lucy Cousins, The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister, and Ugly Fish by Kara LaReau.

If you are looking for a fishy movie to watch this week, you can also check out Finding Nemo and its follow-up Finding Dory or the classic The Incredible Mr. Limpet with Don Knotts.  Children will also love watching episodes of the “Octonauts”, a  courageous crew of ocean protectors who travel the oceans and seas looking for underwater animals in trouble.  Led by polar bear Captain Barnacles, other crew members include Tweak the bunny, Dashi the Dachshund, daring pirate cat Kwazii, octopus Professor Inkling, Peso the penguin and Shellington the sea otter.  Several DVDs are available of this fun series at NERL branches.

Suggested Family Activities • Summer ☀ Reading Packets

Emersyn Shadburn from New Site had a blast making an elephant and all the other fun activities in the summer packets!

Have you picked up your Summer Reading Program packets yet?  They are filled with lots of fun activities – coloring sheets; activity sheets such as mazes, color by number, hide and seek, crossword puzzles, and connect the dots; craft projects; and more.  Additional special sheets this week include a recommended reading list for “Water Tales,” a color your own ocean scene that can be cut apart to make three bookmarks, a sheet of “Fishy Facts,” a sheet that lets you tell us what your favorite ocean animal is (and draw a picture), a template to use your own paper scraps to make a cute narwhal, and many others.  Packets are available for families, ages 6 and up, ages 7-11, and ages 12 and up.  We’re also giving away a free book (your choice!) with each packet, while supplies last.  So head to your local library branch this week before time runs out!

Our featured virtual programs for this week are more recorded performances by Music Play Patrol.  In these installments, you can listen to Mr. Frank sing The Speckled Frog Song (and join in, of course!), as well as read the children’s book Do Penguins Have Pediatricians? Visit us at

NERL Administrative Assistant Leigh Hood will be doing a LIVE Story Time at 2:00 p.m. today, so join her as she reads Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea by Ben Clanton.

Tomorrow, July 20, Ripley Librarian Eric Melton will read I’m the Best Artist in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry LIVE at 2:00 p.m.

Wed. July 21, a recording of NERL Director Dee Hare reading The Octopus Escapes by Maile Meloy will be posted followed by more Live events

Leigh Hood reading Nugget and Fang: Friends Forever – or Snacktime? by Tammi Sauer at 2:00 p.m. on July 22 and

Iuka Librarian Gwen Spain reading The Rock from the Sky by Jon Klassen at 2:00 p.m. on July 23.

Suggested Family Activity • Aquarium 🎥 Cams

Even if you can’t visit an aquarium in person this summer, you can always check out some of the great Aquarium Cams located at many facilities.  The Monterey Bay, California aquarium has webcams so you can see live views of sea nettles, moon jellyfish, sardines and leopard sharks swimming through a kelp forest, as well as sharks and many other fish inside their aquarium.  They even have live feeds from outside in the nearby Monterey Bay waters.  Find these cams, as well as animals stories and information about water animals, on their website at  The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California has web cams viewing their Penguin Habitat (from both under the water and above), their Shark Lagoon, Sea Nettles, Tropical Reef, and their Blue Cavern and Coral Predator displays full of many brightly colored fish.  View them here  The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta has a live view of their Ocean Voyager habitat, which even sometimes features scuba divers waving to the audience!  They also have additional webcams viewing their piranhas, jellyfish, whale sharks, angelfish, and Indo-Pacific Barrier Reef.  Check them out here  The Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga has cameras watching their otters, penguins, tropical fish, and other exhibits.  View information about this great aquarium at

Suggested Family Activity • Hand ✋ Imprints

If you like to turn your child’s handprint into fun pieces of art, this week’s Summer Reading Theme of “Water Tales” will give you lots of ideas!  If you take an imprint of their hand with the fingers facing down, you can turn it into a cute octopus by painting on a face in the palm area.  Let them decorate an underwater scene around it – and don’t forget bubbles rising to the top!  To turn their hands into a crab scuttling along a sandy beach, make two imprints – one with the fingers pointing left and one with the fingers pointing right.  (The palm areas will overlap).  Arrange it so that the two thumb imprints form a “V” so that these will be the eye stems of your crab sticking up.  Then draw and decorate around the crab with seashells, starfish, and other sea creatures.

Kids can also use our favorite plain, white paper plates to make some cute and colorful sea creatures.  If you fold a plate in half and add an extra piece of paper sticking out one end as a fin, you can turn it into a fish.  Just draw an eye and mouth on the opposite end of the fin and color it in whatever color combinations you like.  Kids can turn a plate into a turtle by coloring a white plate green and gluing or taping on extra pieces of paper to make a head sticking out the top, four legs, and a triangle tail.  For an extra touch, they can draw circles to mimic the turtle’s shell or make it more life-like and draw interlocking octagons.

Suggested Family Activity • National Pet 🐕 Fire 🔥 Safety Day

Today is National Pet Fire Safety Day, a day set aside each year to help us to remember a few safety tips concerning our pets and the hazards of fire.  Our pets are treasured members of our families and we would do anything to keep them safe.  The ASPCA offers the following tips (additional information can be found on their website at

Cole hanging out with Penny and Tommy.

Keep a close eye on pets while you have candles lit or around other open flames, such as in fireplaces, heaters, and stoves.  Their tails could accidentally get into the flame. If your pets are often left unattended in your home while you are at work and children are at school, get in the habit of removing the knobs from your stove when you are not using it so that they do not accidentally turn anything on.  (This is also a good idea if you have a new toddler or very young children in your home.)  For pets who stay outside, use metal or plastic water bowls instead of ones made of glass.  The hot Mississippi sun could cause a fire to ignite nearby as the sun’s rays are channeled through the glass.

Put a sign in your windows that tells how many pets are living inside.  In the event of a fire, this will give firefighters the information they need to make sure everyone is safely removed from a fire.  In the event of a fire while your family is at home, keep pet leashes and collars near the entrance to your home so that they can be found quickly.  Also have a plan so that each family member knows which pet they are responsible for carrying out of the house.

Don’t forget that we would love to see pictures of you and your family members reading out loud to your pets this summer!  Send them to

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Suggested Family Activity • Cow 🐄 Appreciation Day

Can you spot a brown cow?

Two different national days this week fit perfectly into our animal theme this summer – Cow Appreciation Day today and National I Love Horses Day tomorrow! So, take this time to appreciate the gently mooing creatures that give us great products such as milk and cheese.  And in the case of horses, we honor how they have helped clear fields, worked on farms, served as reliable transportation, and helped make the settling of our country possible, while at the same time becoming treasured members of our families.

English country veterinarian James Herriot loved the horses, cows, dogs, and cats he cared for during his career so much that he wrote a series of best-selling memoirs about his life.  His first book, All Creatures Great and Small, is perhaps his best-known work, although he wrote many other books, including All Things Wise and Wonderful, All Things Bright and Beautiful, and James Herriot’s Animal Stories, among many others.  A compilation of his best stories can be found in The Best of James Herriot: Favorite Memories of a Country Vet, as well as James Herriot’s Treasury for Children.  His life and books have even become the basis of a highly popular new series on PBS titled All Creatures Great and Small.  If you missed the series beginning earlier this year, check out season one on DVD from the NERL collection and get caught up while everyone is waiting for season two to begin!

Visit our Summer Reading Program about animals here

Suggested Family Activity • National 🛍 Paper Bag Day

Today is Paper Bag Day, a day set aside to remember all the various ways a paper bag can be used. We love using paper bags as a craft supply during arts and crafts projects. You can turn them into puppets, masks, windsocks, and many other items. You can also decorate plain paper bags with crayons, markers, paint, stickers, glitter, or any craft supply you have on hand to turn it into a gift bag to hold a special gift.

During our libraries’ “Farm Tales” week of Summer Reading Program, we turned paper bags into cows, rabbits, pigs, and ducks. If you missed out on that packet, ask your local library branch if they have any left. This week begins our “Water Tales” theme, with activity packets filled with things about the wide variety of animals that live in water – from oceans and seas to rivers, lakes, and streams. Packets are available for Families, ages 6 and under, ages 7-11, and ages 12 and up and include coloring sheets, activity sheets, and more. Craft projects for this theme include a colorful Fish Threading craft for ages 6 and under and 7 – 11 and turtle and whale origami projects for ages 12 and up. For the whole family, we have options for making either an Ocean Scene or a jellyfish out of coffee filters and a set of color your own bookmarks. We are also giving away FREE books to everyone who picks up a packet, so stop in and get your book today!

We would love to see what your creativity unleashes – send photos to

Suggested Family Activity • National 🐈 Kitten Day

Cole reads while his cat stretches out

Tomorrow, July 10th, is National Kitten Day, the perfect time to celebrate our cute and cuddly kitten friends.  Send us pictures of your best kitty friends at  If you do not have a kitty right now but would like one, call or visit your local animal shelter to find the perfect new member of your family.  Many shelters have rules for their adoption process, so check with the one in your town to see what they require.  Many ask that you fill out an application and pay a small fee to cover medical costs.  Don’t forget to make sure everyone in your family is on board with getting a new kitty and willing to take on the responsibilities of feeding and taking care of all your kitten’s needs.  Make sure you take the time to visit and play with all the kittens in the shelter to find one that fits in with your family’s personality.  Even if you do not end up adopting one, many shelters welcome volunteers who are willing to come in and socialize with the animals to keep them happy and healthy. If you have questions about how to take care of your kitten, check out some of these titles from our libraries’ collections: Cats Behaving Badly: Why Cats do the Naughty Things They do by Celia Haddon, Kitten by Mark Evans; in the ASPCA Pet Care Guides for Kids series, Kitten Kindergarten: Practical Help and Advice for Your Kitten’s First Year by Marie Toshack, and The Total Cat: Understanding Your Cat’s Physical and Emotional Behavior from Kitten to Old Age by Carole Wilbourn. We would love to see what your creativity unleashes – send photos to

Suggested Family Activity • Games 🎳 Tic Tac Toe


Introduce young children to the fun of the classic Tic Tac Toe game this week. To put a fun spin on it, make your own game and let them help. For regular sized versions, simply use painter’s tape or another colored tape to create a tic tac toe board on a large sheet of paper (or on a blank stretch of your floor or outside on a sidewalk, porch or patio). Remember, you need 9 black spaces to play the game. You can then use anything to be each person’s place markers. Since we are learning all about jungle and zoo animals this week, why not have children draw lions, elephants, zebras, or whatever their favorite animal is onto a piece of paper (they will need several markers for each player) to cut out and use as place markers? For extra stability, glue the pieces onto thin cardboard or card stock weight paper. You could even use paper plates, one of our favorite craft supplies. If you have plain white paper plates, children could draw their animals directly on the paper plate and cut them out to use as markers. For a life-size version of the game that is perfect for playing outside, use an old bed sheet or large tablecloth as your board. Mark off your lines with duct tape or painter’s tape. With such a large board, you can use larger objects for place markers. Have each player decorate white paper plates and use whole plates as their markers, use rocks or pinecones they have picked up outside, or anything else you can think of! We would love to see what your creativity unleashes – send photos to

Suggested Family Activity • Art 🎨 Collage

The world of children’s literature was saddened recently to lose two wonderful children’s book authors.  Eric Carle brought the natural world to life through such titles as The Very Hungry Caterpillar and A House for Hermit Crab.  His beautiful artwork was made by layering hand-painted and tinted tissue paper together to create colorful images.  Later in life, he created the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amhurst, Massachusetts.  The mission of this non-profit organization is “to inspire a love of art and reading through picture books”.  To find out more about the Museum, visit or for more about Carle’s life and works, visit his website at

Children’s book illustrator Lois Ehlert worked in a collage medium as well.  Her most famous title, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, featured text by Bill Martin (who also collaborated with Eric Carle) and depicted the letters of the alphabet climbing a tree.  President Obama honored this title in 2013 by reading it to children at the White House Easter Egg Roll. To view the video, click on this link To find more titles by both Carle and Ehlert, ask at your local library branch.

To celebrate the life of these two great artists, why not make your own collages today?  You can use tissue paper like Eric Carle or torn up pieces of any kind of scrap paper like Lois Ehlert – magazines, newspapers, flyers, etc.  Then use pencils, crayons, markers, or paint to enhance your artistic creations.  We would love to see what your creativity unleashes – send photos to

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Suggested Family Activity • Elephant 🐘 Project

Have you picked up your Summer Reading Program activity packet yet?  In this week’s packets, we are learning all about the variety of animals that live in the jungle or that you can see if you visit a zoo.  Packets are available for Families, ages 6 and under, ages 7-11 and ages 12 and up and include coloring sheets, activity sheets, craft projects and more.  Some of the sheets include a fun fill in the blanks sheet that lets you put random words into a story to tell a crazy tale about “A Trip to the Zoo.”  There is also a cool informational sheet about elephants, and a copy of Rudyard Kipling’s “How Camel Got His Hump” story for you to read with your family.

Craft projects for this week are a cute Elephant Paper Plate project for ages 6 and under, a fun Spiral Snake for ages 7 – 11, and a finger knit Yarn Snake for ages 12 and up.  Our featured virtual programs for this week are more recorded performances by Music Play Patrol.  This time, Mr. Frank tells two beloved Eric Carle stories – Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Did You See? And The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  Additionally, the Booneville Junior Auxiliary is conducting a LIVE jungle themed story time today at 1:00 p.m.  To view their recording, check here.

Visit our summer reading page for more fun! Click Here!

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Suggested Family Activity • Wild Kratts 🦇 Creaturepedia

Generations of children have learned about the amazing world of animals through the adventures of zoologists Chris and Martin Kratt, first through their PBS show “Zoboomafoo” and now with their current show “Wild Kratts.”  The PBS Kids website has a special Wild Kratts section with tons of amazing features – ideas for craft projects, games such as “Amazin’ Amazon Adventure” and “Baby Animal Rescue,” and of course, episodes of their show!  There is also a special Creaturepedia section with lots of information about all sorts of animals, searchable by type of animal, region of the world where it lives or its habitat.  Currently, they are also showcasing read along story times with both Chris and Martin, a question and answer segment with the brothers, links to You Tube videos from their current travels, as well as a thirty minute video with animal activist Jane Goodall called “A Creature Conversation with Dr. Jane Goodall and the Kratt Brothers.”  Check it akk out at

Parents, if you follow the link to the Parents section of PBS Kids, you will find even more great ideas for craft projects, recipes that mimic some of the animals featured in the Wild Kratts shows, book recommendations for kids who love animals, and articles such as “Simple Ways to Explore Animal Life with Your Child” and “What if We Let Kids Get Bored?

Suggested Family Activity • Painted 🎆🧨 Fireworks

With the 4th of July weekend upon us, try out this fun art project with your family to make some painted fireworks:  You’ll need scissors, paper, paint, a plate (a disposable paper plate works great!), and several inner carboard tubes from a roll of toilet paper.  You can also use the inner cardboard roll from paper towels or even wrapping paper, but you will probably want to cut it in half to make the size more manageable.  Use scissors to cut slits about a quarter inch apart along one end.  When you are finished, the long, skinny carboard pieces will be what you use to apply the paint to your paper.  You can have different sized fireworks if you make some tubes with short slits (about 2.5 inches long) and some with longer slits – as far up the tube as you can go while still having something to grip.

After your tubes are cut, pour out paint (acrylic works best because it washes off kids and clothing easily) onto the paper plates – one color per plate. Dab the splayed out ends of the rolls in the paint to load up the color, then press it onto the paper, using a slight twisting motion to spread the paint around.  If you want, you can layer different colors of firework ‘blasts’ on your paper to make an exciting and multi-colored fireworks display.

Suggested Family Activity • Animal 🏁 Racing


If you are looking for some fun outdoor activities to do this weekend, check out these instructions for Animal Racing, courtesy of the website

  1. Find a big open space, preferably outdoors, with nothing around that can be knocked over.
  2. Warm up and stretch! Have your child warm their joints up and get the blood flowing to their muscles with jumping jacks and arm circles.
  3. Set up a start and finish line. Make sure there’s enough space after the finish line for your child to slow down.
  4. Ask your child if they can think of ways for them to move like animals (galloping like a horse, hopping like a frog, crawling on all fours like a dog, crawling sideways like a crab, etc.)
  5. Race! If you use a stopwatch, your child can race against themselves and try to beat their time. Your child can also race against siblings or even you if you’re up to it!
  6. Have your child compare their speed between the different animals they act out and see if they think the differences are the same in nature. For example, does a galloping horse move faster than a crab?


Don’t forget to take pictures of your Animal Race and send them to us at

June 2021 Suggested Family Activities: Summer Reading Edition

Suggested Family Activity • 🦏 Zoo 🦍 Cams

If you can’t make it to a zoo this summer, check out some of the fun Zoo Cams located at many zoos around the U. S.  The nearby Memphis Zoo has live camera feeds on their pandas, hippos, elephants, and flamingos that you can watch any time of the day.  Check it out at  The large San Diego Zoo in California has cameras watching their hippos, pandas, and elephants as well, along with baboons, polar bears, giraffes, burrowing owls, penguins, koalas, apes, and tigers.  They even have a new cam on their platypuses.  Click here to view their live feeds here:

If you’re looking for something a little different, the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C. has webcams watching their black-footed ferrets and naked mole-rats, in addition to some of the animals mentioned above.  Check them out here:

The Houston Zoo in Texas has webcams watching everything from their largest animals (rhinos and elephants) to their mid-size ones (giant river otters) and even their smallest leafcutter ants.  Watch these animals and more here:

Memphis Zoo • Hippo 🦛 Cam

Suggested Family Activity • National 📷 Camera Day

National Camera 📷 Day today gives us another opportunity to encourage everyone to take pictures of your Summer Reading Program activities during June and July.  You could take a photo of your child (or an adult) reading to their pet or their stuffed animals or your family completing any of the fun activities in the NERL activity packets, watching one of our recorded Story Times, or doing any of our Suggested Family Activities each day.  We would love to see them!  Just send them to

Another fun photo opportunity is our Story Walks, located at walking trails in Belmont, Booneville, Burnsville, Corinth, Iuka, Ripley, and Tishomingo.  (For a listing of all locations with addresses and other information, check out the Story Walk information on our Summer Reading Program main page.)  The Story Walk at the lovely walking trail located in C. C. Shook Park in Belmont features the story Just Like my Brother by Gianna Marino.  It is set on the African plains and follows Little Giraffe as she searches for her big brother during a game of hide-and-seek.  As you walk through the story, you’ll get to meet all the animals that help Little Giraffe on her search.

Photographs are a wonderful way to remember the special occasions in your life, as well as the everyday moments.  Many times, adults take photos of their children doing things.  Why not switch it up today and let your children take pictures of you?  They will also have a lot of fun taking random pictures of anything that inspires them.

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Suggested Family Activities: National Paul Bunyan Day

Today is National Paul Bunyan Day, a day to remember the tall tale of Paul Bunyan and his big blue ox Babe.   The giant lumberjack with tremendous strength is one of the most famous figures in North American folklore.  To read up on Paul Bunyan and Babe, check out the children’s books Paul Bunyan, A tall Tale by Steven Kellogg (also available in Spanish) or The Bunyans by Audrey Wood.  The compilations American Tall Tales by “Magic Tree House” author Mary Pope Osborne and Classic American Folk Tales by Steve Zorn have stories about Paul Bunyan and other folk heroes such as John Henry, Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind, and Davey Crockett.  Since we are celebrating our animal friends this summer, why not draw a picture of Paul and Babe to send to us?  Photos can be sent to

One of the sheets in this week’s Summer Reading Program activity packet contains a creative writing prompt that asks you to dream up any kind of animal you want.  The sheet has space where you can name your animal, draw a picture of it, and make up a story about it.  Who knows?  Maybe your animal will become a tall tale too!

Visit our Summer Reading Page for Story Time, Story Walks and more

Suggested Family Activities: Duck Duck Goose

If you can find enough players this weekend, another classic game to try out is Duck, Duck, Goose.  All players start off sitting in a circle on the floor.  One person is picked to start off the game as the Tapper.  The Tapper walks around the outside of the circle and lightly taps each seated player on the head, saying “Duck” with each tap until he or she randomly decides to tap someone and say, “Goose!”  The Goose runs around the circle after the Tapper, who tries to get to the Goose’s vacated spot in the circle and sit down before the Goose tags him or her.  If the Goose does not catch the Tapper before he or she sits in the vacated spot, then the Goose becomes the Tapper and the game begins again.  If the Goose manages to catch and tag the Tapper before he or she sits down, then the Tapper is “it” again for the next round.  (Another variation is to always pick a new player to be the Tapper after every round.)

Our activity packets this week have a great handout that shows you what tracks different farm animals make when they walk on the ground.  Do you think you can tell the difference between a goose’s track and a chicken’s?  Get one of our packets today and test your knowledge!

Visit our Summer Reading Page for Story Time, Story Walks and more

Suggested Family Activities: Story Times

Join us here LIVE at 2PM today for Virtual Story Time!  Our Library Director, Dee Hare, will be reading Duck on a Tractor by David Shannon

Have you checked out any of our Summer Reading Program Story Times yet?  Various NERL staff are reading (either live or through recordings) lots of animals books this summer – one per day!  “Farm Tale” recordings already available include Leigh Hood reading Hensel & Gretel: Ninja Chicks by Corey Rosen Swart, Cody Daniel reading Mo Willems’ I’m a Frog, Sandy Donahue reading No Sleep for the Sheep by Karen Beaumont, and Eric Melton reading Rooster Can’t Cock-a-Doodle-Doo by Karen Rostocker-Gruber.

Due to publishers’ restrictions, some recorded titles will only be accessible through June 30, while others will remain on the website until the end of July.  Upcoming LIVE events include Dee Hare reading Duck on a Tractor by David Shannon at 2:00 p.m. today and Sandy Donahue reading Chick n Pug by Jennifer Gordon Sattler at 2:00 tomorrow, June 25.  Then on June 26, a recording of Gwen Spain’s rendition of Click, Clack, SURPRISE! by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin will be posted to finish the week. To view the recordings and live events, check our website at

Your local library branches also have lots of fun picture books for you to read “Farm Tales” on your own.  Check out The Little Read Hen by Nora Sheehan, James Dean’s popular character Pete the Cat doing his version of Old MacDonald Had a Farm, Margaret Hillert’s version of The Three Little Pigs or The Cow that Got Her Wish.

More Story Time Videos are on our Summer Reading Page

Suggested Family Activities: Animal Crafts

If your kids love to use play dough or clay to make things, have them mold and create their own animals today.  They can stick to familiar ones from around your home, such as favorite pets or the animals you see in your yard.   In the spirit of our “Farm Tales” this week, they could also make a variety of farm animals, such as a chicken with a nest of eggs.  Or they could even make up their own animal varieties using their imaginations!  For additional fun, have them make up stories to go along with the animals they create.  We would love for you to share their creations with us – send your photos to

If you want to try making your own play clay, try out the following recipe, courtesy of Arm & Hammer.  (It will require adult supervision and help.)  After you make up a batch, unused clay can be stored in a refrigerator for up to 1 week.  If your children want to keep their creations permanently, just leave them out to dry overnight or dry it in your oven.  (Disclaimer:  The clay is not edible!)

Pour 2 cups of baking soda and 1 cup of corn starch into a saucepan.  Stir them until they are mixed.  Next, add 1 ¼ cups of cold water.  Then, add drops of food coloring until you get your desired color.  Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring it constantly until it looks like the consistency of mashed potatoes (about 10 to 15 minutes).  Pour the mixture out onto a plate or into a shallow bowl and cover it with a damp cloth.  When it cools to the touch, it’s time to see what you can create!

See more at

Suggested Family Activity: Pig Snorting Contest

Since we are learning about farm animals this week, have a Pig Snorting Contest today! Gather all your family and friends and have each person take a turn making their best pig snort. Then, decide who has the best snort! Different categories could be Silliest Snort, Loudest Snort, Funniest Snort, or even Least Like a Pig Snort. You could have the same contest with other animal sounds, such as neighing like a horse, mooing like a cow, baaing like sheep, and so on.

If you have little ones in your house who are just learning which animals make which sounds, you can also pull out a variety of plastic or stuffed farm animals to help them tell the difference. Ask them questions, such as “What is the animal doing?” or “What does it say?” Reinforce the animals and their noises by singing a round or two of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” with them.

Visit our Summer Reading Program webpage for Story Walks, Book Lists, Virtual Story Times and more

Suggested Family Activity: Summer Reading

National Daylight Appreciation Day

Today is National Daylight Appreciation Day – a day that inspires people to take advantage of the positive benefits of sunshine.  It is always held on the Summer Solstice – the longest day of daylight we will see here in the northern hemisphere.  There are many ways you can enjoy the sun – from going outside for a short walk to finding ways to let sunlight into your home, such as by opening blinds or curtains on windows.  Who knows?  You might catch your cat sleeping in a ray of sun shining through a window – a perfect picture for our Summer Reading Program “Tails and Tales” theme.

If you decide to go outside for a short walk in the sun today, check out one of our Story Walks located at walking trails in Belmont, Booneville, Burnsville, Corinth, Iuka, Ripley, and Tishomingo.  (For a listing of all locations with addresses and other information, check out the Story Walk information on our Summer Reading Program main page.)  The Story Walk at the beautiful Mineral Springs Park in Iuka presents the story I Just Want to Say Good Night by Rachel Isadora.  As you walk around the trail, you will follow Lala as she gets ready for bed – but first she must say ‘Good Night’ to the cat, the goat, the chickens, etc.

Suggested Family Activity: Summer Reading

Scholastic Activities

Scholastic, one of the leading publishers of children’s books, is offering lots of FREE activities on their website this summer!  You will find reading challenges, free e-book access for titles to read and watch, author read-aloud programs, and other special virtual events starring your favorite Scholastic characters.  To check out this free resource this summer, visit

If you have always wanted to learn to draw, let the library help you get started on this fun hobby this summer.  Check out the following titles from our branches:  60 things I Can Draw: Animals by Kaye Quinn, The Artist’s Guide to Drawing Animals: How to Draw Cats, Dogs, and Other Favorite Pets by J. C Amberlyn, and Draw 50 Animals by Lee J. Ames.  Ames has a variety of titles available to help you learn how to draw everything from birds, cats, dogs, horses, sharks, whales and other sea creatures.

Visit our Summer Reading Page for StoryTimes and more here

Suggested Family Activity: Summer Reading Activity Packets!

For the next two weeks, our Summer Reading Program activity packets for ages 6 and under and ages 7 to 11 will have the supplies to make a farm animal out of a brown lunch bag.  You will be randomly given pieces to make either a pig, cow, bunny, or duck so pick one up today!  The content creators at DLTK Crafts for Kids have turned a paper bag into funny horse puppet.  Check out their instructions and templates here to see how they did it.  (If you do not have a printer at home, just ask your local librarian to print the template out for you.  Since it is for Summer Reading Program activities, we will not charge you for the copies!)  The website also has a very simple way to turn your child’s handprint into a fluffy sheep using construction paper and

cotton balls.  Check it out here  It can be fun to turn the outline of children’s hands into a variety of cute animals – you can either trace around them or cover their palms and fingers with paint to ‘stamp’ onto a piece of paper.  If you use that method and stamp their hand with brown paint, they can draw a head opposite their thumb to turn it into a cow or horse.  Or use another color to turn it into a pig or chicken!

Visit Our Summer Reading Program for StoryTimes and More

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Suggested Family Activities

Summer Reading Game: Farmer May I

Play this variation of the classic game Mother, May I this week … but since we are celebrating all the animals found on farms, have the Farmer calling out the steps instead of ‘Mother’.  This game can be played with several players or with just two.   Before you begin, you will need to pick a starting point and a finish line for the players.  The person who is “Farmer” stands in front of the other player(s).  The Farmer calls on each player in turn and gives them instructions, such as “take two GIANT steps.”  The player who was called on must then say, “Farmer, may I?”  The Farmer then responds either, “Yes”, and the player can take the steps forward, or “No,” if the player did not ask correctly.  (Another variant is that the player must go back to the starting point.)

In the spirit of “Farm Tales”, Farmer can ask that players waddle like ducks, hop like a bunny, prance like a horse or perform other animal actions.  The Farmer could also have players make animal noises as they move towards the finish line.

Watch librarians StoryTimes!  Read stories and find

activities and more on our website at

Summer Reading Program

Suggested Family Activities

Suggested Family Activity • Summer Reading & Nature Photography Day

Have you checked out one our Summer Reading Program Story Walks yet?  Story Walks are outdoor reading experiences where a children’s book is presented via plastic signs at various points along a walking trail.  Participants walk the trial, stopping at each sign to read the pages of the story.  NERL is proud to partner with our local communities to present Story Walks at walking trails in Belmont, Blue Mountain, Booneville, Burnsville, Corinth, Iuka, Ripley and Tishomingo.  (For a listing of all locations with addresses and other information, check out the Story Walk information on our Summer Reading Program main page.)

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The Story Walk at the walking trail at the Fred and Elizabeth Smith Sportsplex in Ripley features the wildly funny Click Clack Moo by Dorren Cronin with illustrations by Betsy Lewin.  To discover what happens when Farmer Brown’s animals find an old typewriter and start making demands for better treatment, check out the Story Walk or watch NERL Director Dee Hare’s recording of this title on Friday.

Today is also Nature Photography Day so get outside today and take some pictures of the great things to be found in the natural world around us.  Maybe you’ll take pictures at one of our Story Walks, at a nearby national park, or in your yard, playing with your favorite pet.  Whatever pictures you take, don’t forget to share them with us at

Suggested Family Activity • Summer Reading Theme 2 Farm Tales

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This week, NERL branches begin Theme 2 of our 2021 Summer Reading Program “Tales and Tails.”  For the next two weeks, we’ll be discovering all the variety of animals that live and work on farms as part of our “Farm Tales” activities, so pick up your new activity packet soon!  Packets are available for Families, Ages 6 and under, Ages 7-11 and Ages 12 and up and include coloring sheets, activity sheets, craft projects and more.  Our featured virtual program this week is a recorded performance by Music Play PatrolIn this delightful presentation, Mr. Frank tells the story of “The Three Little Pigs” and “Little Red Riding Hood” while demonstrating basic rhythm and rhyme.  Using the story of “The Three Little Pigs” as inspiration, have your kids build replicas of the pigs’ houses today.  Stick to the story as close as possible or get creative and use whatever you have on hand – cotton balls, Q-tips, paper, sticks from outside, stones, or anything else you can find … the sky’s the limit!  If you want to work in a little STEM activity to this craft project and the kids don’t mind their houses being blown apart, use a fan or hair dryer to stand in for the Big Bad Wolf’s breath and see if their creations will stand up.  Start on a low setting and let the kids predict what will happen.

🩸 Today is National Blood Donor Day!  Giving blood is a way to help save someone’s life.  You may see some mobile blood banks parked in high traffic areas throughout the day.  If you are able to give blood, stop in and do your part by donating.  You never know who you may be helping….it could be a neighbor, a family member, or a perfect stranger.  The person or persons that receive your blood donation will be very thankful.

Suggested Family Activity • Summer Reading National Loving Day 

Tomorrow is National Loving Day.  This is the perfect day to extend loving kindness to others around you.  One way to show loving acts of kindness is by using your manners and being polite, such as saying “Please” and “Thank you” and holding open a door for someone and then stepping back to allow them to enter in front of you.  Another way to be loving to others is to go visit family and friends, if you can, and tell them how much they mean to you.  You could also visit an elderly person who lives alone or has recently lost their spouse.  More times than not, the best “thing” we can do for someone is to show our loving kindness by just taking out time to visit with them.  This lets them know that we are thinking of them and that they are special to us.

Don’t forget your pets today either.  Pets get lonely while adults are at work and children are at school.  Make a point to spend time with your pets to show them how much you love them.  We would love to see your pictures!  And remember, we are also posting pictures of children and adults reading to their animals (whether real or stuffed) as part of our Summer Reading Program activities.  Send your picture to us at

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Suggested Family Activity • Summer Reading: StoryTimes!

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Have you checked out the Story Times on our website yet?  Many are being recorded so that you can watch them whenever (and as often) as you like!  If you like stories about cats, we have a lot for you!  Corinth Librarian Cody Daniel has recorded the original Splat the Cat book by Rob Scotton, Ripley Librarian Eric Melton has recorded Cat Parade by Bethany Roberts, NERL Director Dee Hare has recorded Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel, and George E. Allen Librarian Sandy Donahue has recorded both  Julia Sarcone-Roach’s There are no Bears in This Bakery and Jill Esbaum’s Tom’s Tweet.

If dogs are more to your liking, Iuka Librarian Gwen Spain has recorded Madeline Finn and the Library Dog by Lisa Papp and will do a LIVE reading of Pig the Stinker by Aaron Blabey today at 2:00 a.m.  For stories about critters we see around our yards and homes, listen to NERL Administrative Assistant Leigh Hood read Those Darn Squirrels! and Those Darn Squirrels and the Cat Next Door by Adam Rubin (the second book will be posted on Friday), while Dee will read The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog by Mo Willems.  And tomorrow, we’ll post Eric reading Rubin’s Those Darn Squirrels Fly South.

Suggested Family Activity • Summer Reading: Cat and Mouse Game

Here’s a fun game that your family may not have tried before – Cat and Mouse.  For this game, you will need a large bed sheet or tablecloth and at least four players.  Here’s what you do:  One player is picked to be the cat and one player to be the mouse.  All the other players kneel on the ground holding onto the edge of the sheet.  The cat’s mission is to find and tag the mouse so as the mouse crawls around under the sheet, the cat crawls around on top of the sheet trying to do that.  While the cat is trying to catch the mouse, the rest of the players shake the sheet up and down or side-to-side, puffing up the sheet so that the cat has difficulty seeing and finding the mouse.  If the cat tags the mouse, that turn is over. Then, the mouse becomes the cat and a new player becomes the mouse.

Don’t forget to check out our Summer Reading Program virtual program by Deb Davis from the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science in Jackson.  Deb is a yearly favorite at our NERL branches and has graciously recorded programs for us these last two years.  We hope to see her back in our branches soon for live programming!  Her virtual program is available on our website, at the bottom of the Summer Reading Program page.

Suggested Family Activity • Summer Reading: National Best Friends Day!

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Today is National Best Friends Day!  That means today is the day to show your bestie just how much they mean to you.  Here are just a few ideas to help get you motivated…draw a picture for them (make it special by drawing something that they are especially interested in, such as the beach and ocean or a particular animal surrounded by their natural habitat).  The possibilities are endless and limited only by your imagination and your bestie’s interests.  Another idea to help your best friend know that you appreciate them is by taking time out of your busy day to spend some time together.  You could go to a nearby walking trial and participate in one of our branches’ Story Walks, plus get in some fun exercise, fresh air and a little sun (don’t forget your water to stay hydrated and your sunscreen!).  If you go on one of our Story Walks, let us know by using the QR code (just center it in your camera’s picture app and it will bring up a link to let us know how many are in your party) or call or visit one of our library branches to tell us what you thought about it.  Everyone who comes by to tells us they did a Story Walk will receive a page of finger puppets for your efforts. A list of where our Story Walks are located and what stories are available at each can be found on our Summer Reading Program page of our website by clicking here

Many people say that their pet is their Best Friend.  Our SRP packets have a sheet included where you and your family can tell us why your pet is AWESOME!  There is even a space for you to draw a picture of you and your pet so don’t forget to pick up your FREE packet.

We would love to see pictures of you and your pets or your family participating in any of our Suggested Family Activities for inclusion on our website!  Just email them to

Suggested Family Activity • Summer Reading: Show Off Your Love of Your Pets

There are lots of great craft projects you can make to show off your love of your pets.  The website DLTK-Kids has several fun ideas that only use basic supplies such as paper and crayons.  To find out how to make a paper model of a Siberian Husky dog, check out their instructions here  Brown paper bags are very versatile (and cheap!) craft project supplies.  The website also has instructions to make a cute puppy dog out of one.  Directions can be found here

White paper plates are another inexpensive craft supply to have on hand.  DLTK-Kids has a funny hamster face that is made from one – check it out here  Or if kitty cats are your pet of choice, they have a super easy cat craft for young children that is made by gluing various sizes of circles together.  Find the instructions here

If you do not have a printer at home to print out any of these templates, ask your local library to print out the templates for you.  Since it is for our Summer Reading Program projects, we will not charge you!

We would love to see pictures and/or videos of this day.  Send them to

Suggested Family Activity • Summer Reading: Read to Your Pet

Laura Joffe Numeroff is a popular children’s book author and illustrator who brings a variety of cute animals to life in her titles.  Since we are celebrating all things animal related this summer, check out some of her funny titles from one of our local library branches.  Her first title, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, introduced the world to the highly imaginative exploits of Mouse, who is always wanting SOMETHING!  Mouse proved very popular and is also featured in If You Give a Mouse a Brownie, If You Take a Mouse to School, If You Take a Mouse to the Movies and The Best Mouse Cookie.  Her character Pig has also been a favorite, appearing in If You Give a Pig a Pancake and If You Give a Pig a Party.

Various NERL staff are reading (either live or through recordings) lots of animals books this summer – one per day!  George E. Allen Librarian Sandy Donahue will be reading Numeroff’s If You Give a Moose a Muffin, a recording of which will be available next week on June 15.  (Due to publishers’ restrictions, some recorded titles will only be accessible through June 30, while others will remain until the end of July.)  To view the recordings, check our website at

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Since today is National Doughnut Day, how about reading Numeroff’s If You Give a Dog a Donut to celebrate?  Children might be tempted to see how many doughnuts you can eat without getting sick – after all, you can’t eat just one!  A better idea might be to buy a dozen donuts and see how many you can share with those around you.  You can also use Play-Doh or modeling clay to create your own “fake” doughnuts.  Decorate them any way you like and make them look delicious, just remember not to eat them!  We would love to see pictures and/or videos of this day.  Send them to

Suggested Family Activity • Story Walk

As part of our Summer Reading Program activities, NERL is presenting Story Walks in eight of our communities.  What is a Story Walk, you ask?  A Story Walk is an outdoor reading experience where a children’s book is presented via plastic signs at various points along a walking trail.  Participants walk the trial, stopping at each sign to read the pages of the story.  NERL is proud to partner with our local communities to present Story Walks at walking trails in Belmont, Blue Mountain, Booneville, Burnsville, Corinth, Iuka, Ripley and Tishomingo.  (Click here for a listing of all Story Walk locations with addresses and other information)

The Story Walk at the walking trail in Plumrose Park in Booneville features Ryan T. Higgin’s first book, Mother Bruce and will be up later this week.  (NERL Director Dee Hare will also perform a live reading of this title in early July.)  Since today is National Egg Day, this hysterical children’s book is a perfect one to read today.   Bruce the bear just loves to eat eggs, but he finds himself in real trouble when he gets ones that are about to hatch!  Do you love eggs like Bruce?  See how many ways there are to cook an egg today.  You are probably thinking…boiled, scrambled and fried, but there are other ways like egg salad that are a perfect summer food.  Please let us see what you come up with by sharing pictures and/or videos with us.  Just email them to

Suggested Family Activity • National Global Running Day

Today is National Global Running Day, so get those running shoes ready to run! It is a great way to get in some exercise. If you like to take daily walks with your family, you can change up your routine today and have a friendly competition to see who can run the fastest or the farthest distance in a certain amount of time. Encouraging children to run is a great way to get them out in the fresh air (and tire them out as well!), even if they just race against themselves.

This is Kayden from Tishomingo showing off his paw print craft.

Have you picked up your Summer Reading Program activity packet for Theme 1, “Local Tales” yet? Packets are available for Families, Ages 6 and under, Ages 7-11 and Ages 12 and up and include coloring sheets, activity sheets and craft projects. Our focus over the next two weeks are all the great animals we have as pets, as well as the animals that live in our surroundings. Some people like to take their pets out on their daily walks, so if you like to do that, we would love to see it! And you know that dogs can’t help but join in when children start running around them! Send your pictures or a video of your race and share it with us this summer by emailing it to

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We would love for you to share with us.  Just email them to

Suggested Family Activity • Summer Reading • National Say Something Nice Day

Today is National Say Something Nice Day, so let’s all participate in a competition to try to say more nice things than anyone else!  You should always be honest and sincere with your compliments, but it’s OK to make them humorous – nice things can still be funny at times.  Use this opportunity to teach your children how to take time to observe each person’s reactions when they say something nice – are they surprised?  Do they start crying?  Do they start smiling from ear to ear?  You can make videos of yourself and your family saying nice things about each other or other people you know.  Notes and letters are also great ways of “saying” something nice to others.  Children can even make hand-written notes with simple paper and crayons.  Whether you sign your name on your note or remain a secret admirer is up to you.  By participating in National Say Something Nice Day, you have helped make this day a nice day for yourself and possibly others as well.  If you happen to get a video (or picture of a note or letter) of yourself saying something nice, we would love for you to share with us.  Just email them to NERL’s Summer Library Program starts today!  In celebration of this year’s theme of “Tails and Tales,” you can also send us a video or drawing of your family saying something nice about their pets.  After all, they are part of the family too, aren’t they?  If you pick up an activity packet from one of our local library branches, we even have a sheet included in the Family set that has space for children to draw a picture of their pets and tell us why their pets are the BEST!

This is Carter and our dog, Thumper. They are great buddies and love each other very much. Today Carter told her she was a pretty girl and she rewarded him with lots of tail wags.

May 2021 Suggested Family Activities

Suggested Family Activity • Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day weekend usually kicks off the summer season for many families but let us not forget what the holiday is really about – honoring the men and women of the military who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. Did you know that some people believe that the holiday originated in Columbus, Mississippi? To learn more about the history of Memorial Day, check out the history channel’s information here Each year for Memorial Day, PBS hosts a concert on the Sunday before Memorial Day that will feature live musical performances and heartwarming tributes. This year’s concernt features performances from various military groups such as The U.S. Air Force Singing Sergeants, as well as musicians such as Gladys Knight, Alan Jackson, and Sara Bareiles. In addition to being broadcast on local PBS stations, it can also be viewed live on their website at

To celebrate the real meaning of Memorial Day, there are several things your family can do this weekend: You can learn and sing a patriotic song – traditional ones such as “The Star Spangled Banner” and “America, the Beautiful,” any of the five service songs from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard or Marine Corps, or some of the many contemporary patriotic songs that have been released over the years. If you know a veteran, ask them to share their stories from their military experience this weekend. Red poppies are worn as a sign of remembrance on Memorial Day so craft your own with red tissue paper and a pipe cleaner. Your family can also visit local cemeteries to put out small flags or flowers on soldiers’ graves. Finally, you can get your children to help you write thank you cards and handwritten letters to soldiers and veterans. If you don’t know where to send a letter, the organization A Million Thanks collects letters and mails them out to active, reserve and retired military. Visit for more information.

Suggested Family Activity • Drawing Cartoons and Characters

Do you have a favorite cartoon character? What about a favorite comic book character? A favorite superhero? (Or villain?) Have you ever wanted to learn how to draw cartoons and comics yourself? Your local library branch can help you find books that will help everyone in your family learn drawing skills. Or if following along with a video is more your style, check out the various short art tutorials that can be found on YouTube. Whichever way you choose, draw us a picture of your favorite comic book character or superhero. We would love to see what you come up with!

Children can begin learning to draw cartoons and comics with Cartooning for Kids by Carol Lea Benjamin, Comic Books: From Superheroes to Manga by Joshua Hatch or Manga Dragons in the “Learn to Draw Manga” series by Richard Jones. Cartoon Animator by Don Rauf will even give young people information about what it takes to make a career out of being an animator.

For teens and adults wanting to learn how to draw in the Japanese anime or manga style, we have Anime Art: Easel Does It by Keith Sparrow, The Complete Guide to: Create Mesmerizing Manga-Style Animation with Pencils, Paint, and Pixels by Chi Hang Li, and Anime Mania: How to Draw Characters for Japanese Animation by Christopher Hart. Other interesting titles include The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Drawing Superheroes & Villains by Matt Forbeck and The Art of Cartooning by Jack Markow, which focuses on tips for drawing and selling both cartoons and comic strips.

Suggested Family Activity • Scavenger Hunt Day!

Today is National Scavenger Hunt Day!  Scavenger hunts are fun for all ages and can be as simple or as complicated as you want.  Typically, scavenger hunts challenge participants (sometimes in teams) to search for a list of random or odd items.  They are popular activities for all types of occasions – or for no reason at all!  NERL branches have been providing monthly Scavenger Hunt sheets as part of their seasonal children’s activity packets this past year.  The next packet, for Summer Reading Program, can be picked up beginning June 1.  Until then, we offer this simple Outdoor Scavenger Hunt, courtesy of the website. Download a PDF copy here ScavengerHunt (For a paper copy, please ask your local library branch to print one out for you.)

Types of Scavenger Hunts are as varied as the people who make them.  Some, such as the one above, ask you to look for things in nature.  Simple ones for young children may focus on helping them identify colors by asking them to find things of various colors such as red, blue, and yellow.  Another idea for young children learning shapes is to ask them to find items that are round, square, a triangle, etc.  As children get older, you can introduce units of measurement to them by giving them a simple ruler and asking them to find something that is 1 inch, 2 inches, etc.

Older children might have fun doing a Preposition Scavenger Hunt to strengthen their English language skills.  Since many prepositions have a visual action association with them (think ‘between,’ ‘over,’ and ‘under’), you could have children write down objects they find ‘with’ another object or ‘under’ an object.  Another fun English language Scavenger Hunt could be to concentrate on nouns, things that you can do actions with (verbs), or adjectives, such as something pretty or something small or something cold.  Rules for scavenger hunts can vary as well.  Sometimes there is a time limit or a certain area to be used.  Some scavenger hunts are even made with riddles or clues that you must figure out first to learn what to collect.

Suggested Family Activity • Crafts & Hobbies

Summer holidays are fast approaching, so now is a good time to plan out activities for your family to do together.  One fun idea is to learn a new craft or hobby together.  Your local library branch can help you with materials to get you started:

If you would like to learn how to bake your own bread this summer, check out The Art of Baking Bread: What You Really Need to Know to Make Great Bread by Matt Pellegrini, Better Homes and Gardens All-Time Favorite Bread Recipes or More of America’s Best Bread Machine Baking Recipes by Donna Washburn.  For beginning bakers, check out Betty Crocker’s Cookbook for Boys and Girls or Breads and Biscuits in the First Cookbook Library series by Stoffelina De Villiers and Johanna Adriana.  If your little ones are too young to help with baking, look to Baker’s Clay: Cutouts, Sculptures, and Projects with Flour, Salt, and Water by Ethie Williamson for ideas on how to keep them entertained in the kitchen.

If your family would like to learn how to draw or paint this summer, check out Art Class: A Beginner’s Complete Guide to Painting and Drawing, Drawing Course 101 by Rober Capitolo, or The Complete Colored Pencil Book by Bernard Poulin.  To give your children some ideas for expressing their inner artist, check out 500 Kids Art Ideas: Inspiring Projects for Fostering Creativity and Self-Expression or The Berenstain Bears Draw-It by Stan Berenstain.  Lee J. Ames has a terrific series of books for young artists that include such titles as Draw 50 Aliens, UFO’s Galaxy Ghouls, Milky Way Marauders, and other Extraterrestrial Creatures, Draw 50 Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Animals and Draw 50 Princesses: The Step-by-Step Way to Draw Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and Many More.

Suggested Family Activity • Playing with Boxes

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Do you have lots and lots of carboard boxes hanging around your house and are not sure what to do with them?  Has your family ever explored the endless possibilities that are found with an empty cardboard box?  For young children, empty boxes can be turned into a treehouse perched high in the sky, a pirate ship sailing on the sea or a secret palace hidden away from the rest of the world.  All they need is the power of their imagination!  And if you want to let them get really creative, they can also use crayons, markers, stickers or even paint to turn their cardboard box into their ship, palace or fort.  You can also make an awesome maze for them to travel through with large cardboard boxes taped together with duct tape.  Cut a few windows and doors in between various ones and you might keep your children entertained for hours.

Smaller cardboard boxes can be covered with pretty paper, such as leftover wallpaper or wrapping paper, to make decorative storage containers.  Or you can cover them with a solid colored piece of paper and let your children decorate the box with crayons, markers, or stickers to make storage containers for their rooms.  With gardening season upon us, you can also use small cardboard boxes lined with plastic bags to start plant seeds or even to make low-cost planters for inside your home.  Flattened cardboard boxes are also great to use outside to put over areas where you are trying to prevent weeds from growing.  A handy trick is to water the cardboard, so it stays where you put it, then cover it with a layer of dirt of mulch.

Suggested Family Activity • Get Caught Reading Month

Dee and Cole got caught reading!

May is Get Caught Reading Month so we challenge people of all ages to get caught reading whenever they can!  And if you send us the photographic evidence, we would love to share your reading moments on our website.  (To submit photos, send them to the email below.)  As part of NERL’s upcoming Summer Reading Program during the months of June and July, everyone is especially encouraged to get caught reading to your favorite pet to celebrate the theme of “Tails and Tales”.  NERL invites you to submit pictures of your children (and adults too!) reading to their pets.  And if you don’t have a pet right now, or if your pet is a little camera shy, don’t worry!  Photos of your child reading to their favorite stuffed animal is a great idea as well.  (Studies have shown that young children just learning to read often become nervous when reading for an adult.  But if they read to their pets, or even their stuffed animals, their confidence improves tremendously.)  Pictures may be sent to NERL at, where they will be put into a slideshow on the NERL website.  

It’s easy to get caught reading at any time.  One way is to keep books and magazines scattered in all the areas of your home, as well as in your vehicle.  That way, no matter where you are, you will have something to read.  You can also visit your local library branch to pick up free reading materials or view NERL’s website at to borrow free e-books (and e-audios) for your digital device through the Hoopla and Libby platforms.  You can make a point to read to young children (older brothers and sisters can help read to them too) to show them how fun it is.  Making story time a regular routine, at the same place and time every day, is great fun for all involved.  Many children love for this to happen at bedtime, of course.  It can also be fun to take a book with you when you go outside to enjoy the fresh air, such as in outdoor spaces at your home or even taking a book with you to a local park.   

Suggested Family Activity • Frog Craft

There are lots of different ways you and your family can make froggies as a craft project. One way is to take an empty toilet paper roll and paint or color it green. You could also cover it with green paper if you have any. Then cut out legs for your froggy out of paper (use white and color it green or use green paper) and glue or tape them to each side of the roll. Finish your froggy by drawing on eyes, a mouth and maybe even a long tongue getting ready to snatch a fly out of the air! Another fun frog craft if you have any plastic green Easter eggs left over is to turn one into the body of a frog. Start by drawing nostril holes and a wide smile with a marker and add paper legs on each side. If you have any, glue pom poms topped with googly eyes on the top of the eye for his eyes or you can get the same look with paper circles. As a finishing touch, don’t forget a small red tongue sticking out.

If you have any plain, white paper plates at home, you can turn them into frogs in a variety of ways. Children can color one side of the plate red to be the froggy mouth and one side green to be its head. (You could also use paint or even glue on different pieces of green scrapbook paper or tissue paper.) After it is dry, fold the plate over and add big frog eyes by cutting circles out of a white and black paper and gluing them to the top of the green side. By inserting your hand into the fold, you have an instant puppet! You can also use a full-sized paper plate colored green as a froggy body and then trace your child’s hand twice on paper to be the legs. As with the other crafts mentioned, you can use white paper and the kids can color it or use green paper if you have any. Glue one hand on each side of the plate to hang off for the legs. Next, make a face for your froggy by cutting out white and black circles to mimic the look of giant googly eyes and glue them towards the top of the plate, sticking out the top just a bit. Then dot on two small black dots underneath the eyes for nostrils and draw a black mouth underneath the nostrils. For extra fun, you can make a long red tongue to stick out of the mouth!

Suggested Family Activity • National Frog Jumping Day

Tomorrow, May 13th, is National Frog Jumping Day – a day set aside to celebrate the fun of frog jumping competitions.  The most famous event of this type may be the one held at the Calaveras County, California County Fair, which has been held annually since 1849.  It served as inspiration for Mark Twain’s famous short story “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.”   First published in 1865, the funny tale of a pet frog named Dan’l Webster jumpstarted Twain’s literary career.

To get into the spirit of National Frog Jumping Day, have you children (and maybe the adults too!) have a jumping contest of their own.  Who in your family can jump the highest?  You can also show your kids how to play leapfrog.  Once they have mastered the technique, you can also see who the best at that classic outdoor game is.  And don’t forget to let out a few “Ribbets!” as you have fun!

Copies of Twain’s short story can be found in the collections of many of our local library branches.  Funny children’s picture books starring frogs include the hilarious “Froggy” titles by Jonathan London, the classic Adventures of Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel, I Took my Frog to the Library by Eric A. Kimmel,and Frog Went a-Courtin’ by John M.Langstaff, which  brings the well-known American folk song to life.  The story of The Frog Prince is available in several different versions, including a board book edition by Jerry Smath and a beautifully illustrated version by Kathy-Jo Wargin.  Author Jon Scieszka has even put his signature flair to the story with The Frog Prince, Continued and author Nancy Loewen offers a version told from the other side of the lily pad with her Frankly, I Never Wanted to Kiss Anybody!: The Story of the Frog Prince, as Told by the Frog.

Check out our post on Friday for some froggy themed craft ideas.

Suggested Family Activity • Gardening

Have you thought about starting a fruit and vegetable garden for this year yet? Working on a garden space together, no matter the size, is a great family activity that allows for fun and bonding time while also introducing children to the concept of where food comes from and how satisfying it is to “make” your own. Eating home grown food is also a healthy alternative to other food choices. Having a garden does take work though and can be time-consuming so make sure everyone in your family understands the commitment they are making to the family project. If you are not already a summer garden pro, you could start out small with just a few plants to grow your favorite fruits and vegetables. The Mississippi State Extension Service says that May is the perfect time to plant cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, squash, peas, beans, eggplant, corn, okra, parsley, watermelons, and cantaloupes. For more information on tasks to do this month to beautify your outdoor space, check out their link HERE

You can also find lots of great books to help you begin a food garden at one of the NERL libraries!  Search our online card catalog.

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Suggested Family Activity • Videography

Not too long ago, people recorded their favorite family events on camcorders or movie cameras.  Now, everyone carries around the same recording power on their cell phones.  You may have several short videos saved on your phone of cute things your family does or special moments during the holidays.  Have you ever thought about encouraging your children to take short recordings to make videos?  If you do, you might uncover a hidden source of creativity in your child.  Maybe they will follow the family pet around to see how it views the world or maybe they will show you a side of themselves (or their brother or sister) that you have never seen before.

Just like home videos, people used to keep their family photographs printed out and placed in albums.  Now, many people save them on their phone or computer.  To put a different spin on taking pictures, why not turn your children loose with your camera or phone and let them take pictures of whatever catches their eye.  You might be surprised at where their imagination and creativity take them!

To add another level of interest to your videos or pictures, head outside and find some interesting natural backdrops.  The grass and trees around us are becoming fuller and greener, day by day, and will make beautiful pictures.  Maybe you even have flowers or bushes in your area that are blooming that would make a great backdrop.  Little children could even bring their toys, such as dinosaurs and animal figures or superhero action figures and dolls, outside to photograph or act out a movie.  And if you have older children or teens, challenge them to make a short movie or film montage about their favorite subject that you may not know much about.

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Suggested Family Activity • Postcard Week

My friend Bob has been on a mission for years to keep the post card industry alive! Every time he travels he writes postcards to everyone—so of course we have to do the same for him! That’s an actual post card for him. Since his birthday is May 7, I’m convinced they established Post Card Week just because of his efforts!

The first week of May is Postcard Week so send a postcard that is pretty, funny or filled with beautiful scenery to someone you have not seen in a while.  Children love sending and receiving mail so let yours send one to a distant grandparent, cousin or friend.  They can even make their own postcards with their artwork and drawings.  All you need is cardstock weight paper and some markers or crayons.  Cut the paper (poster board works well too) into rectangles measuring anywhere from 3.5 inches x 5 inches and 4.25 inches x 6 inches if you will be mailing them through the U.S. postal system.  If you decide to hand deliver your postcards, you can make them bigger to fit in more space for decorating and writing.  This is especially helpful for little ones, who tend to write BIG!  On one side of your postcard, draw a line down the middle to section off a space to write in the address to whom it is going and to put the stamp.  On the same side of the paper but on the other side of the line you have drawn down the middle is the space to write the message.  To decorate their postcard, children (and adults) can use markers, colored pencils, or crayons to draw their own artwork.  They can even use stickers to dress up their designs.

Once they get started making postcards, your family may end up making a lot of them!  If so, they can give them out by hand to family members, teachers, and other friends as a surprise and unexpected treat.  You could also leave them stuck in the door for people to find when they get home for the day.  Or surprise your neighbors by leaving a postcard on their door just to say “Hi!”.

Suggested Family Activity • May the Fourth Be With You!

StormTrooper Josh

Tomorrow is National Star Wars Day so join us as we celebrate all things from the Star Wars universe.  According to the National Day Calendar website, May 4 became known as Star Wars day after Star Wars creator George Lucas said the famous phrase, “May the Force Be with You,” during an interview on German national television.  The line was misinterpreted to be “On May 4, we are with you”. Star Wars fans eventually latched onto this funny misunderstanding and have created a whole day full of activities.

What can you do to join into the fun?  Maybe you will wear your favorite Stormtrooper, Darth Vader or Princess Leia costume or just your favorite Star Wars shirt.  Maybe you will have a lightsaber battle or play with your R2D2 or Chewbacca.  Maybe you will watch some of the many Star Wars films or television series, such as The Mandalorian.  Maybe you will fix some of the Star Wars themed goodies in The Star Wars Cookbook: BB-Ate: Awaken to the Force of Breakfast and Brunch by Lara Starr or maybe you will try out some of the crafts in The Star Wars Craft Book by Bonnie Burton.  Whichever way you decide to show your love of Star Wars, don’t forget to send us a picture to show us what you’re up to!

Your local library branches have lots of Star Wars materials to keep you entertained today.  If you are interested in introducing the youngest members of your family to Star Wars, check out the picture books Star Wars ABC-3PO by Calliope Glass, 5- Minute Star Wars Stories or the humorous books by Jeffrey Brown: Goodnight Darth Vader and Vader’s Little Princess.  Children just venturing into reading on their own might enjoy Are Ewoks scared of Stormtroopers?, a Dorling Kindersley Readers Level 1 title or The Adventures of Han Solo by Lindsay Kent, a DK Readers, Level 2 book.

Chapter book readers will love The Strange Case of Origami Yoda series by Tom Anglebergers, The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary by Pablo Hidalgo, or Star Wars Character Encyclopedia by Simon Beecroft.  Adult readers might like to check out the coffee table book The Art of Rogue One by Josh Kushins or one of the many novels that are set in the Star Wars world by such outstanding writers such as Timothy Zahn, Troy Denning, Aaron Allston, Michael Stackpole, Claudia Gray, and others.  Author Ian Doescher has even brought together the worlds of William Shakespeare and Star Wars in his novels that present the Star Wars stories in Shakespearean sonnet style.  If this combination intrigues you, check out William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope or The Empire Striketh Back.

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Disney reveals its ‘real’ lightsaber, and it looks extremely cool

April 2021 Suggested Family Activities

Suggested Family Activity • Enjoy Spring!

If the weather is nice this weekend, celebrate the spring temperatures by spending some time outside.  If you can find a patch of clover, try to find a four-leaf clover for good luck.  Blowing bubbles is another fun outdoor activity.  Blowing them for young children to catch and pop is a great way to sneak in some extra exercise.  To make your own bubble solution, combine 1 cup water with 2 tablespoons glycerin or a corn syrup, such as Karo syrup and 4 tablespoons dishwashing liquid.  Stir it together very slowly (so that the bubbles do not form yet).  For best results, let it sit for several hours or overnight to ‘gel’ together before using it.

You can also celebrate the nice weather by taking a drive to look at all the leaves turning green, the red clover blooming along roadways, and the dogwood trees blooming in forested areas.  Drive slowly through areas where you live with the windows rolled down to feel (and smell) the nice spring air.  If you do it slowly enough, children may be able to blow bubbles out of their car windows!

If you cannot get outside this weekend, the next best thing is to open the windows in your house to catch the spring breezes.  Doing so will help the air quality inside your home, as the breezes will help circulate all the cooped-up air from this winter and move it out and replace it with clean, fresh air.

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Suggested Family Activity • Wind Chimes

April weather can be windy.  For a fun craft project that will help you and your family see and hear all the spring breezes passing by, why not make a wind chime from things you have lying around the house?  Young children can string plastic beads, baubles, buttons, or even old keys (left plain or painted bright colors) onto yarn or string for their chimes.  Another fun thing for young children to string is uncooked pasta such as macaroni, penne, or rigatoni noodles.  Just like the keys, they can leave them plain or paint them fun colors.  Doing such activities helps children develop their fine motor skills and learn how to use their fingers and hands.  Another fun idea is to look outside for sturdy sticks measuring various lengths from 1 foot to 2.5 feet (depending on how large you want your wind chime to be) to use as chimes.  Again, you can leave them their natural color or let your kids paint brightly colored stripes on them with acrylic paint.  Some people even like to make wind chimes using seashells that they pick up while on vacation.

Windchimes at the Iuka Library

Teens and adults who have access to tools might want to get creative and make windchimes using things such as old spoons, forks and butter knives or metal discs, such as the liners from Mason jars.  Recycled plastic bottle caps are another thing you can use if you punch a hole in the center of each so that you can thread them together.    It is also fun to make a wind chime using old compact player discs because they catch and reflect the light very well.

You will need something to act as the base to which you will anchor your chimes.  You can use a long stick and tie your chimes to it with string or yarn and then make a hangar at the top to hang it up.  You could also use recycled cans and glue or duct tape your chimes to the inside if you do not have tools to punch a hole in the can to thread them through.  Another idea is to use a coat hanger as a base, either as it is or taking it apart to bend it into a wire circle.  Then, you could tie your chimes onto it.  You can also keep it simple and use a plastic or paper cup.  Both of these are thin enough that you can poke holes around the rim with a small knife or awl to thread your chimes.  Or if you have a small plant pot, such as a terra cotta one, lying around, you can thread your chimes through the hole in the bottom.

We would love to see your Chimes! Send your pictures to

Suggested Family Activity • National Tell a Story Day

Tomorrow is National Tell a Story Day. Stories can be found all around us -in books, in the lyrics of our favorite songs, or even in story lines of popular movies and television shows. Stories that are told from person to person have long been used to pass on information in an entertaining way.

Celebrate National Tell a Story day tomorrow by sharing a story with someone else. One simple way to share a story is by reading a children’s book story out loud to a child. Another great idea for all ages is to make up your own stories from your imagination and share it with friends and family. If you are having trouble coming up with a story to tell, try describing a favorite childhood memory or telling a funny story about something that happened to you. Telling each other stories is a wonderful way for families to pass down their histories, knowledge, and traditions, so the activity can turn out to be as educational as it is entertaining. One special way to do this today could be to have a child ask a grandparent, parent, aunt, uncle or any elder member of your family to tell a story about how they grew up or things they remember fondly from the past.

• If you are new to the art of storytelling, try these tips as you tell a story today:
• Form a connection with your audience by making eye contact with each one throughout the story.
• Invite your audience to participate by asking questions, even if it is as simple as, “Can you guess what happened next?” during your story.
• Change voices for each of the characters in your story.
• Make movements whenever possible. For instance, you could act out what is happening in the story whenever appropriate.
• Don’t forget to make your face assume different expressions as it fits the story.
• Most importantly, have fun!

Suggested Family Activities • Earth Day Pledge Card

Don’t forget to go by your local NERL library branch to pick up your Earth Day pledge card!  The cards will be displayed in library windows for everyone to see.  It is also not too late to pick up a Spring activity packet or the National Library Week packet for fun coloring sheets, activity sheets and craft projects.

Spring weather can jump from wet and gloomy to bright and sunny from day to day.  If it is rainy this weekend, plan a “do nothing” day with your family.  Maybe you will watch fun family movies together, play lots of board or card games, put together puzzles, or work on craft or art projects together – whatever relaxes you!  You could make quick and easy snacks (don’t forget the popcorn if you watch movies!) and just spend the day together having fun.

Don’t forget to work in time for a marathon story time.   Get everyone to pile up together on the couch, on your bed or in a fun pillow and blanket fort and read the afternoon away in snuggly comfort.   Families with young children can read lots of picture books out loud or maybe begin a chapter book adventure.  Families with older children, teenagers or even those with just adults only can still have a great time together, reading their own books while relaxing in the same room or even cuddled together.

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