FONT & AUDIO

MORE STORIES


'How's Your Heart Today?' teaches healthy emotional expression to youngsters.

Highland Elementary School educational assistant Michelle Lynae Clark wrote the children's book "How's Your Heart Today?" to teach kids how to express their emotions in a positive way.

Clark grew up in an era where children were to be seen and not heard at home. She penned the book as a way to not have future generations grow up like she did.

"We were all dressed in our Sunday best most days, and the house was spotless," Clark said. "We looked great on the outside, but we often were hurting inside." PMG PHOTO: MATT DEBOW - Michelle Lynae Clark shows a photo of her kids during a book presentation at Highland Elementary School  on Wednesday, April 3. Her three sons were part of her inspiration to write a childrens book.

Her parents just did not know how to ask "How are you feeling today?" "Are you okay?" Or "What's wrong?"

When Clark had her three sons she was determined to not continue a legacy of unheard children.

"I wanted them to know that their mom cared about their daily life and feelings, without creating any negative patterns of expression," Clark said. "So I developed a little ritual: I would put my hand over their heart and ask them, 'How's your heart today?' Then I would further teach them how to appropriately share their feelings of any kind."

As an educational assistant, she started using the ritual with her elementary school-aged students, and it led Clark to self-publish the children's book last December.

Her illustrated rhyming book uses her "How's your heart today?" refrain throughout, and it gives examples of how children can share their emotions in a healthy way. A couple of instances include expressing pain when children scrape their knees or get stung by a bee.

Positive feedback

A woman purchased Clark's book to read with her 5-year-old granddaughter who was having trouble sharing her emotions, and the child also was being mean to other kids. PMG PHOTO: MATT DEBOW - Michelle Lynae Clark presents her book Hows Your Heart Today to a third grade classroom.

"And she started to open up, and share how she was feelings," Clark said.

As a byproduct of the story, the youngster started to think about how her actions were affecting her kindergarten classmates.

"So, she was learning empathy for the kids she was not being so kind to," Clark noted.

The grandmother and her daughter now check in with each other every day, by asking "How's your heart today?"

The book was published just before last Christmas, and Clark was thrilled to hear that story less than a month later.

"Wow, that is what I wrote the book for — would I like to sell a million copies? Yes — but that's what I wrote the book for, to touch a little girl like that," Clark said.

About Michelle Lynae Clark

Sandy resident and children's book author Michelle Lynae Clark grew up in Gresham near Centennial High School.

Her family moved to New York while she was in middle school before moving back to Troutdale. PMG PHOTO: MATT DEBOW - Michelle Lynae Clark finishes her presentation with a sing-along version of her book story: Hows Your Heart Today.

She graduated from Sam Barlow high school in 1977. Her first job was at Heidi's Restaurant and Lounge as a bus girl at age 14. 

She found a passion for writing, but didn't attempt to do anything with that until she became an empty nester and grandmother.

"I fell in love with writing and rhyming when I was a kid, basically," Clark said. "I loved poetry, and I am finally making that dream happen. I wasn't the best reader, but loved the information. I dreamed of writing, but tucked it deep inside my heart and did what a lot of girls did in the 1970s: Got married and had three amazing boys."

About the book

"How's your heart today?" is a rhyming children's book written by Michelle Lynae Clark and illustrated by Estacada artist Kerrie Hubbard.

The book is available online at www.amazon.com/Heart-Today-Michelle-Lynae-Clark/dp/1730978002


You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.