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The Future is Inclusive

Updated: Nov 17, 2023

An interview with children's book author, Lindsey Larsen!



 

The Confidence Loop's author interview series is back this week to share an inspiring conversation with the talented children's book author, Lindsey Larsen! Her remarkable book, "Meeting Exceptional Friends," has garnered well-deserved recognition as the winner of the prestigious 2023 Nautilus Book Awards. As an Amazon best-selling picture book, it brilliantly combines entertainment with education, shedding light on the lives of children living with disabilities.


Through its vibrant and cheerful illustrations, "Meeting Exceptional Friends" captures the attention of young readers while addressing their curious nature about disabilities. The book serves as a gentle reminder that taking the time to educate ourselves about differences can significantly enhance our interactions and personal growth as individuals.


While "Meeting Exceptional Friends" is primarily designed for children, its impact reaches far beyond. Parents, teachers, and caregivers of all kinds will find it to be an invaluable resource. Lindsey Larsen's book empowers adults to engage with young minds in meaningful discussions about diversity, inclusion, and empathy.


Join us in this captivating interview as we delve into the inspiration behind "Meeting Exceptional Friends," Lindsey's creative process, and the profound message she hopes to convey to readers of all ages. Whether you're a child or an adult, this book promises to leave a lasting impression and promote a more compassionate world for everyone.



Meeting Exceptional Friends

Written by Lindsey Larsen

Illustrated by Lora Look


Interview with Lindsey Larsen


Q - Meeting Exceptional Friends was inspired by your own children. Can you share a little bit about them and why you wanted to write this book?


A - My oldest daughter, Madelyn, survived a massive stroke shortly after birth which resulted in her having various medical conditions as well as visible and invisible disabilities. As she was growing up, we often encountered similar situations over and over. Children would start asking a question about my daughter wearing earmuffs or asking why she is moving slow or engaging in a certain behavior. I found these questions delightful because children are inquisitive and want to understand their world. However, we often noticed embarrassed or upset reactions from caregivers when their children would ask about these differences. I wanted to find a way to validate young children’s inquisitive nature and help caregivers start a conversation about disabilities with the children in their life. I also want the world to know that you don’t have to wait for those moments in public! It can start right at home, with a book!


Charlotte is three years younger than Madelyn and she is her sister’s biggest advocate. By about age 5 she was starting to educate others about Madelyn’s differences. She has always found ways to play and interact with Madelyn, so I know it’s 100% possible for anyone to engage with her.

 

Q - What inspired you to become a children's book author? Was there a specific moment or experience that sparked your interest in writing for children?


A - The moment to write a book came to me after mulling over ways to possibly spread this message. I thought about volunteering in schools to educate students during various disability awareness days and weeks. However, I was afraid that if the parents didn’t receive the message, then there was still the risk of children feeling shame or embarrassment for their questions about differences.


When thinking about how this message could reach both children and adults, the answer was a children’s picture book!

 

Q - What is the main message you wanted to convey to young readers with this story?


A - There are two main messages for young readers. The first is that it’s okay to ask questions! Asking questions is an important way young minds learn about their world! Parents, grandparents, caregivers, and teachers can help to answer these great questions. The second message is to please look for opportunities to include all friends!! We can never have too many friends, and it can be fun to learn new games or how to play something a little differently, so everyone is included!

 

Q - What was your experience like working with Lora Look on the illustrations? How did you communicate and what was the collaboration process like?


A - Lora has been living and working in Ukraine, her home, while Russia has continued this unjust war against the people of Ukraine. We communicated with the help of translation software over a freelance service platform. There was a lot of back and forth because I am a terrible artist, so I found it easier to cut and paste her sketches into the spreads I envisioned. She is absolutely wonderful, and I hope we can work together again in the future!

 

Q - The discussion questions at the end of this book are amazing! What advice would you give to parents, teachers, and caregivers on how to use your book as a tool for promoting acceptance and fostering conversations about differences?


A - I would say to just start with the book! Snuggle up at bedtime and just see where the conversation takes you! Next, I would say, check out my website! I am continuing to make resources to help parents and educators feel comfortable about discussing disabilities with their children. The conversation should continue to evolve as the child gets older and the resources I have (and are currently working on) span Pre-K to 3rd-4th grade.

 

Q - Are there any other resources or initiatives that you'd like to recommend for further promoting acceptance and inclusivity? Are there any authors or organizations that have inspired or helped you in your own life?


A - What I have found is many many parents out there, like myself, who are all trying in their own way to promote awareness, acceptance, and inclusivity. While some of us are authors, others are starting non-profits to provide employment opportunities, and others like my friends over at Create Awareness (www.createawareness.us) are producing merchandise to spread this message and support the disabled community. What is amazing is that the foundation of all these initiatives is educating the public! Education brings about understanding and understanding leads to inclusion! It really is that simple as long as people are open to learning and growing!

 

Q - In the spirit of "authors supporting authors", what advice would you give to aspiring children's book authors who are just starting out? Any key insights or tips that you'd like to share with them?


A - One thing I didn’t expect was the amazing community of children’s book authors! I waited until after I published to start joining the social media communities and I wish I hadn’t! The community is so supportive and willing to help with questions or issues! So, start getting involved even before you publish!


Also, go for it! After combing through books online and at the library trying to find the book that I wanted to see and coming up empty-handed realized that it probably doesn’t exist because this isn’t a story just anyone would feel comfortable writing. We all have a unique perspective about something, so don’t be afraid to share it with the world!

 

Thank you to Lindsey for sharing her journey and insights with The Confidence Loop!


To learn more about this author, please check out her website at lindsey-larsen.com. "Meeting Exceptional Friends" can be found on Amazon, and you can also get your hands on a special SIGNED copy of her book right here!

 

Are you a children's book author with a story to share? The Confidence Loop is always looking for new and exciting ways to promote confidence, acceptance, and overall kindness through children's books, so please get in touch via the Contact Us page!


Don't forget to follow @theconfidenceloop on Instagram and Facebook for more inspiring content and subscribe to the email list at the bottom of this page to "stay in the loop" (a.k.a. be the first to know about new interviews and blog posts)!


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