Despite working as a fifth-grade teacher at Fergus Falls Public Schools and raising three small children, Amelia Lemar has found time to finish writing her book, “It’s Okay: The 8 Things All Children Need to Hear,” and self-publish it. It’s now sitting at No. 39 in Amazon’s new releases in education theory.
Lemar started writing the book at the end of March, inspired by a conversation she had with a student and then spurred into finally writing it when she saw how distance learning during the pandemic was affecting her students. “I am a strong advocate for mental health in children and see the effects COVID-19 is having on them first hand with my students,” Lemar said. The book is meant for anyone who has or works with children, not only teachers.
“The original (inspiration) for the idea actually took place with a conversation I had with a student at one point in time,” she says. The student had a difficult home life but was very helpful and caring, always asking Lemar if there was something he could do to make her day better and less stressful. This reflected in his schoolwork, Lemar says, and she was speaking to him one day about his grades and how he recently did poorly on a quiz.
“I just asked if he needed help with anything with it and he showed me he could do it. When I asked him why he did poorly on the quiz if he could do it, he said that he didn’t get much sleep the night before, he was worried about some things that were happening in his life, that he just wasn’t really focused,” she says. “So I looked at him and I said, ‘You’re allowed to let yourself be important, too, sometimes.’ That kind of pushed something in his brain and he just broke down crying at my desk because nobody had ever put it to him before, saying you are allowed to let yourself be successful, you are allowed to let yourself be important, too, because he was so often focused on other things that were happening in his life.”
“It’s Okay” seeks to give caregivers tools to better help children build confidence, self-respect and motivation.
Encouraged by her success with “It’s Okay,” Lemar is looking to continue writing and publishing her work. She’s recently announced a series of children’s books with each book focusing on the importance of a different type of service dog in the world. The main character is her own dog, Maverick, who she often shares stories about in class and uses him in examples, which her students enjoy. She’s also working on a middle-level dystopian fiction novel, inspired by a dream she had.
Despite having ideas for books she’s wanted to write, Lemar was hesitant at first. “I’ve always enjoyed writing, I do write a lot, and I’ve just never really had the courage to move forward with any of it until I finished writing ‘It’s Okay,’” she says. “I said, ‘There’s nothing to be afraid of, it’s a book, there’s nothing scary about publishing a book.’ So I went for it and I instantly fell in love with the idea of it. It’s prompted me to edit and finish up some of the projects I have started and start some new ones as well.”