A Coon Rapids resident has just written and released her first children’s book.
Laura Larson is a counselor at Woodland Elementary in Brooklyn Park. Her book, “Wild Mindfulness,” teaches and guides readers in mindfulness through guided imagery and breathing techniques as they follow along with a young girl and her adventures camping and exploring in the wild, according to Larson.
Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
She added the book follows the story of a young girl who goes on a camping adventure, exploring the wild: “Through the book, children learn to be fully immersed in the moment while bringing an awareness and calm to their body, as they listen and read about nature and how to be mindful, using all of their senses: sight, smell, touch, taste and sound. These are the same sort of practices I incorporate into my work with children in the school district.”
Idea for a book
“I was looking for a mindfulness resource to use with my students in a children’s book,” Larson said. “I really wanted to find one that also incorporated nature, guided imagery and things like that. But I just couldn’t quite find what I was looking for.”
She also really enjoys nature and incorporating it into her personal and professional life. She and her husband and children go camping every summer.
She said she had been wanting to write a book for some time.
“It was one of those bucket list things,” she added. “Last year I decided this was the year.”
Larson and her family were on a camping trip last summer and the ideas started coming to her at the campfire.
“It just kind of came to me,” she said. “Every few weeks, I just started writing some things down and getting that skeleton ready.”
Larson finished her manuscript by last fall. Then she started the process of finding an illustrator online through freelancing services. She ended up finding illustrator Duli Sen from Sri Lanka.
“I was captivated by her work, so I reached out to her,” Larson said. “She said yes. We corresponded back and forth through email. It was really seamless. For each illustration I was able to send her a sketch of what I wanted or a really detailed description. She would give me back a draft and go back and forth. She is so very talented.”
Larson received the first illustration last December and the final one in March.
She worked with a self-publishing platform, which allowed her to distribute her book to retailers. She did some research before settling on one. The self-publishing group has Larson’s manuscript in a database, so when a retailer runs out more books can be printed and sent off for sale.
The book includes a vocabulary section, along tips and resources for educators and parents on mindfulness.
Her book was published the end of April and released for sale May 1 on Amazon, Walmart, and Barnes and Noble websites.
“The whole process went fast, but I feel I had really good control over it,” Larson. “It was organic and natural.”
People have responded positively to Larson’s book.
Her book sold out of stock on Amazon the first month it was available for purchase. They had to reorder.
Another exciting part of Larson’s journey has been that the Minnesota DNR has decided to put her book in all of the Minnesota State Park gift shops.
“I’ve been putting myself out there in different markets,” she said. “I reached out to state parks, which my family frequents so often. I sent them a book to review and the DNR said they would take whole stock of them.”
She added: “That was probably the most exciting thing, to have it come full circle. This is a really big deal for me because the whole reason I wrote this book is to encourage adventures and imaginative play outside.”
Larson said the support of friends and family has been amazing.
“It’s been rewarding to know that people enjoy the book and it’s been a useful tool,” she said of responses she’s received from people she doesn’t know.
She said her teacher friends have read her book to their students.
“It’s exciting to have kids come up to me and tell me, ‘Our teacher read your book and we love it,’” she said. “They have a lot of great questions.”
Larson added the book has been a helpful tool for students that have needed a calm atmosphere.
“This is something I was looking for to be able to use with students,” she said.
She said she can see herself writing another book in the future as the experience was a fun process.
Copies of Larson’s book can be purchased online or at state parks. To schedule an author visit, meet the author or have books signed, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.