Mom’s Choice Awards is excited to announce another post in our interview series where we chat with the inventors, designers, publishers, and others behind some of our favorite family-friendly products.
Hello, Mom’s Choice readers! We’re so excited to have gotten the chance to sit down and speak with another one of our wonderful honorees for this interview. We recently caught up with Lotus Kay, author of the Mom’s Choice Award-winning book, Friends Lift You Up! Friends Lift You Up tackles the subject of anti-bullying, how to be a good friend, and being kind towards others. Friends Lift You Up tells the story of April and her best friend Tyla and how they sometimes don’t treat each other the way best friends should. The book explores how their friendship evolves and delves into a number of issues kids deal with socially. Keep reading to find out more about Lotus Kay and her award-winning book, Friends Lift You Up!
MCA: Hi Lotus, thank you so much for joining us today, and congratulations on your Mom’s Choice Award! I’d like to first start this interview off by having you tell us about yourself and how you became an award-winning children’s book author!
Lotus: I always loved to write as a way to express myself. I started to get into sharing my writings when I was a teen who really cared a lot about things going on in the world. I was shy about sharing things I wrote but when I realized animals didn’t have voices to speak for themselves, that was my motivation in feeling I had to be theirs, so starting to share writings on animal rights and veganism is where I got started, which led me to be then comfortable sharing my writings and creativity overall. First I had to do it for them before I could do it for myself.
MCA: Since October is National Bullying Prevention Month, can you tell us a little bit of your knowledge of the issue of bullying in schools?
Lotus: It’s happening at schools everywhere. In the US, 1 in 5 students ages 12-18 has been bullied during the school year and approximately 160,000 teens have skipped school because of bullying. And negative things that happen to a person or are said to them can really stick with them their whole lives. And we need better guidance in dealing with it. There’s a saying “I’d rather be excluded for the people I include than included for the people I exclude.” And that’s a big lesson taught in Friends Lift You Up with the character Janelle modeling standing up for someone.
MCA: Tell us more about the Tips on Being a Friend section that can be found in Friends Lift You Up!
Lotus: In the ‘Tips on Being a Friend’ section I wanted to offer some ideas on not only being a good friend but also more generally how to treat each other with kindness. Things like shutting down negative talk of others and taking a pause before responding when you are angry. What feels good to say or do at the moment may make matters worse for you and for them. Cutting someone down doesn’t make you any taller. In fact, it makes you shorter.
MCA: This is your second book to win a Mom’s Choice Award! How does Friends Lift You Up fit into the rest of the “Bears for Cares” book series?
Lotus: There is a connection with how we treat animals and the Earth, a topic of my past books, and how we treat one another. It’s as simple and as small as whether or not we are going to purposely step on an ant or not and whether or not we are going to pick on the kid over there. Whether we take advantage of those we may be able to have power over or not. It’s really important we have the impulse to care for and protect the more vulnerable versus doing the complete opposite.
MCA: Can you tell us about the connection between the Bears for Cares book series and Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots youth program?
Lotus: The books are part of a project I created called Bears for Cares that I started when I was 15 with Jane Goodall’s youth program Roots & Shoots. One of my books Jenny the Chimpanzee is a bit of a tribute to Jane Goodall and has quotes from her in the back. And books such as that one have a stuffed animal chimpanzee you can buy with it, as well as my book Billie the Octopus has a stuffed animal octopus, there’s also a stuffed animal turkey from my book A Thanksgiving for the Turkeys and a stuffed animal polar bear from my book More Beautiful Than Heaven. This is why we call it “Bears for Cares” because it started with the stuffed bears from More Beautiful Than Heaven. You can also get a stuffed Earth, and all this at the website bearsforcares.com.
MCA: Tell us about the connection across the themes of the books within the Bears for Cares book series!
Lotus: It started with talking about the environment and animal rights, but I realized I had even more that I wanted to write about, and what wraps it all together is that my books are about creating a compassionate world. From caring for the Earth to talking about bullying to whichever themes I’ll write about in the future. I hope one of the things that get taken away from my stories is an overall message of compassion.
MCA: Tell us about your goal of encouraging young people to create a more compassionate world and make a difference!
Lotus: I want to not just learn from my own mistakes and from my own experiences but share these lessons with others so we can teach the young the things we learned late. I would have loved a book like Friends Lift You Up when I was younger, it would have helped me. So I feel I want to start conversations about things that really matter. And start the conversations early, in our early development when we are first grasping our ideas of the world and how to be a person in it and modeling what type of person we aim to be.
MCA: Thank you for a wonderful interview, Lotus! Please keep us posted on what we can look forward to next in the “Bears for Cares” book series!
You can learn more about Lotus Kay and her award-winning book, Friends Lift You Up by visiting her MCA Shop pages.