The Most Important Book You Can Read With Your Kids

by Dr. Jessie Voigts /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture
Jul 27, 2020 / 0 comments

One of our very favorite people in the world (not to mention one of our very favorite artists: read our profile with her here!), Lara Smith, has a new book that, honestly, is a must for any parent or educator to share with their kids.

Be Kind to Me is a beautiful book, full of interesting and beautiful creatures and plants. Each section has an extraordinary, hand-drawn, whimsical illustration of the subject, and then (best of all), a story told from the perspective of the subject, ALL about how awesome they are, what they do in nature, and how to be kind.

The Most Important Book You Can Read With Your Kids

For someone (ahem) who is freaked out by spiders, this book was a good reminder to think of them. I learned so much about bees, dandelions, wild flowers, and more. But truly, this gorgeous book is an excellent way to teach our kids to be kind to both nature, and to learn about things we don't understand. In times like these, it's more important than ever. 

Get your copy, and read it with your kids. Order some for every family with littles that you know. It's an important tool for teaching ethics, as well as conservation. Highly recommended!

We were lucky enough to catch up with Lara, and ask her about her new book, what's next, and more. Here's what she had to say...

The Most Important Book You Can Read With Your Kids

Please tell us about your new book!
Be Kind to Me is a book of reason to love the often underappreciated creatures that we share our planet with. It features 14 illustrations of plants, insects, and animals that are a little misunderstood or maybe even a little scary, and they get to tell us why they're actually very, very important! It's both written and illustrated by me, and it's my first published book.

What inspired you to create this book?
I have a huge bleeding heart for animals and plants and bugs, and I'm an advocate for approaching any situation with kindness whenever possible. There have been too many times that I've seen people bagging their lawn leaves in plastic bags, spraying their garden with insecticide, and reacting fearfully to harmless insects that we need in order to keep balance in our ecosystem.

Most of the time I think this comes from a lack of information, and it's my hope that with this book I can help educate both parents and children about how cool, cute, and important these creatures are. I want to inspire kindness towards the things we share our planet with.

The Most Important Book You Can Read With Your Kids

Did you imagine each section being read in a different voice? We had such fun, trying to think of great voices for each section.
I love that!!! I really hope that each one comes across as a relatable and lovable character.

The Most Important Book You Can Read With Your Kids

How can educators and parents best use this book?
Be willing to learn something from it! Like I said before, often times it's not the kids that need to learn, it's the parents. We have a lot of catching up to do, changing our outdated bad habits so that we live in harmony with the planet instead of exploiting it. It's okay to be wrong about things, as long as when we learn new information we change! Sometimes the issue of saving the planet seems very big and overwhelming, so I've included 10 easy, low cost, low effort things we can do that make a huge difference. We don't have to completely turn our lives upside down to be making a real impact.

A friend of mine told me she's used the book to try and soothe her daughter when she was upset over a mouse in the house. I was so happy to hear that my book was helping change a fear reaction to one of respect! I still find spiders pretty scary, and that's just fine, but I never do them harm. I hope that this book can be part of a curriculum that encourages people of all ages to get outside and see some of these wonderful things in a new light.

The Most Important Book You Can Read With Your Kids

PLEASE tell us you have other books coming, in a series!!
At the moment, I don't have any plans to do more of Be Kind to Me, sorry! However, I do have at least two other children's books in the works, and a short illustrated story for adults, and a novel for young adults. And who knows, maybe I'll find more creatures whose voices need to be heard! If so, I'm sure I'll happily dive into a sequel. There are SO MANY amazingly weird little creatures and plants, after all!

What's up next for you?
I'm still so new to self publishing, and it's quite the roller coaster. There were lots of bumps on the road to getting Be Kind to Me out, and honestly I'd like find a way to produce it better than it is now. I'm teaching myself design and looking for better print on demand resources. I'm also debating making the leap and trying for a real publishing deal, so I'm researching that. As an artist, I'm also ALWAYS learning, and I'm looking to take some writing and painting classes so I can do better quality work! The goal is for the next book to be an even smoother process and look 10x as cool. So I'm off to make more mistakes and learn from them!

How can readers find your work (and this book!)?
The book is available only through my Etsy at this time!

Preorders were set to end August 1st, however because of this interview and an artist feature for a zine I will be in, I've decided to extend the date!

So now preorders end Sunday August 9th 2020. After that the book will be available in small batches that I'll announce on my social media. If at some point they are in local book stores, I'll share that information as well!

To make it super easy, here's a link tree where you can find links to my website, etsy, and social media with one click! Yay!

I'm on facebook, instagram, and tumblr for regular updates on new work, upcoming shows, or later book releases. You can read samples of my stories, see my commission prices, gallery, and some tutorials on my website at

The Most Important Book You Can Read With Your Kids

Thank you so much for being kind, and for caring about this project as much as I do!



All photos courtesy and copyright Lara Smith