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Shelf Talk 21: Winter Reading

December in Mississippi County. We may not get snow, but the holiday season is in the air: lights and decorations adorn our homes and yards, wrapped gifts pile up beneath our trees, baking and laughter fill our kitchens, carols spill from smart speakers and storefronts. Amidst all the uncertainties of this year, we welcome a season of familiar traditions, a time to reflect on the good things in our lives and allow a whisper of hope to return to our hearts.

There are many signs of hope and of new life in Mississippi County. Look for ways to celebrate together: school programs, religious services, Lights of the Delta, movies at the Ritz. This is the year and the season to support our community: shop locally, volunteer, give to programs that support local students, senior adults, and those experiencing homelessness and hunger. We can continue to spread joy even while remaining socially-distanced!

Like other local businesses and organizations, the Mississippi County Library System (MCLS) is working hard to offer you services in a COVID-safe way. Read on for information about our Winter Reading Challenge, our Santa Stories initiative, and our new 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program for our youngest customers!

Tell us why you love your favorite book (or what really bothers you about that book you just couldn’t finish) and you could win a prize in this year’s MCLS Winter Reading Challenge! We’re offering a Grand Prize of a 859-piece Lego “Once Upon a Brick” set, perfect for building on a cold winter’s night. Each book review you submit gives you one chance to win; submit three book reviews for a guaranteed grab-bag prize. The winner will be announced December 22nd, just in time to claim the prize for Christmas! Register and write reviews at

The holiday season is a busy one for most families. With the constant rush of school, activities, shopping, and preparation, wouldn’t you love the chance to sit together for a few moments of story time? Let the library help!

Here’s how Santa Stories works:

  1. You fill out a brief form at (or call the library) and give us more details about your reader(s).

  2. We put together a bag of 5-10 picture books we think you'll enjoy and check them out on your library account.

  3. You take the books home and wrap them up in your own wrapping or tissue paper.

  4. In the days leading up to Christmas, your young reader chooses one book from the stack to unwrap and read together.

  5. Return your books to the library after the holidays. We'll give you extra time on your checkout so you don't need to rush to return during this busy time.

For preschool students, MCLS is launching a 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program, with the goal of exposing our children to more books, vocabulary, and stories before they even enter school. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to register their children (five years old and younger) at, or at their local MCLS library. It’s easy to track the books your child reads and earn incentives along the way! Studies show that children who are read to at an early age have bigger vocabularies when they enter school and are more likely to have a higher reading level in grade three than peers who did not have early reading exposure. As you hit reading milestones with your preschool child, come by the library to pick up a reward from the treasure chest and move your child’s name to the next level in our Hall of Fame!

We hope that these programs can add a little fun and relieve a little stress during the holidays. If you have an idea for a service or resource the Mississippi County Library System could provide, let us know! As always, feel free to contact me at anytime with questions or suggestions.

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