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“How to Catch a Lightning Bug”

Sierra Barnett Brings a Southern Rite of Passage to Life in Her Debut Children’s Book

Coming off the heels of her first book tour, Sierra Barnett sits down with us to open up about her debut children’s book, “How to Catch a Lightning Bug.” This is a story where readers are invited to explore one of the South’s most beloved pastimes and lean further into a particularly magical moment that has been enjoyed by many Tennesseans over generations. 

Sierra grew up in the small East Tennessee town of Rogersville, located in the valley of the Appalachians just a few hours away from where she and her family now live near Old Hickory Lake. Sierra recounts memories from her childhood that center around the magical moments which seem to continuously fuel the brilliance behind her storytelling. Each June, lightning bugs signaled that summer was in full swing, and Sierra’s connection to these whimsical insects would only grow stronger and stronger. Coincidentally, she and her grandmother, Mamaw Mac, shared June birthdays. Barnett describes, “That was like our time. And anytime her birthday would come around, I would just think about how lightning bugs really bonded us... I always felt this connection with her.”  


After achieving a degree from the School of Journalism at MTSU, Barnett lead a successful career in the world of communications and journalism. Still, she found herself at a crossroads after the birth of her first son where she made the decision to fully pour herself into the role of motherhood and step away from her journalistic career. It didn’t take long before Sierra began to reclaim her natural skill for storytelling and let the inspirations throughout her childhood lead her down the path to writing her first children’s book. 

The inspiration behind “How to Catch a Lightning Bug” all started after her young son found it difficult to catch lightning bugs. Sierra had the idea to write about catching these magical critters that had, in many ways, shaped her own childhood. She also wanted the book to explain the importance of letting lightning bugs go after they’ve been caught. She notes, “I hope [children] learn how we can make small changes that have a big impact. More literally, letting one lightning bug go, can ensure we see them again next year.” Sierra hopes to continue encouraging children to get outside and be kids as long as possible. They might just find something that looks a little like magic. 

“How to Catch a Lightning Bug” is quickly gaining momentum amongst readers across the U.S. Barnett’s book can be found wherever books are sold- you can even stop by our favorite children’s boutique, Magpies Mount Juliet, and grab your copy!

Sierra recounts memories from her childhood that center around the magical moments which seem to continuously fuel the brilliance behind her storytelling.

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