In the Schools: Paraprofessional has second life as children’s book author

For the students at Waterford and East Lyme High Schools, Linda Laudone is a familiar face.

As a mother, she wanted a job that would allow her to have the same schedule as her kids, and being a paraprofessional met that need. She loved being involved with her kids’ schools, but actually working at them gave her a much more in-depth view into school life. Laudone loves helping kids and felt comfortable working with special needs students, making her a perfect fit for the job.

She worked as a paraprofessional at East Lyme High School for 20 years before coming to work at Waterford. Unbeknownst to many, for most of the time she was working at East Lyme, Laudone was holding onto a children’s book she had written. Now, she has released two books about animals and loves to see the looks on kids’ faces when she reads to them.

Laudone says that children gravitate to her books due to the animal characters. She believes that they are a good way to relate to kids because almost all of them like animals. She enjoys reading to the kids and inspiring a love of reading.

Teaching children a lesson about the environment is what Linda Laudone’s book “How Will You Change the World?”, co-authored with Susie Scheyder, seeks to accomplish. Laudone tries to teach kids with a heartwarming story that follows a mother elephant and her baby, while she explains how every animal helps the Earth.

Her first book, “My Dog Wants to Be a Cat,” was written about her own pets and what she observed them doing around the house. It teaches kids how sometimes people, or cats, just need time for themselves.

While “My Dog Wants to Be a Cat” was first published in 2015, Laudone actually wrote the book about 15 to 20 years earlier. She got the ideas for the book by writing down on pieces of scrap paper little things she had seen her pets doing. She compiled these scraps together into a manuscript but forgot about it as she was busy taking care of her kids.

Getting published was a long process, and it was a dream she had almost forgotten about until she opened a drawer with the draft of “My Dog Wants to Be a Cat” in it. A friend happened to be a publisher with Andres & Blanton and convinced her to put the story out there. Jacob Scheyder provided illustrations.

She was finally able to get her book published after 20 years.

Laudone’s second book, “How Will You Change the World?”, was commissioned by Ivory Ella, and part of the proceeds goes to protecting elephants. Ivory Ella is a retail company with a mission to help the world, mainly the conservation of wild elephants. The company wanted a book written to educate kids about how important animals are, and Laudone was ready to write again.

Along with the messages present in her books, Laudone wants to send an inspirational message to potential authors. “Don’t give up on your dream” and “dreams can happen” were two ideologies that she repeated during an interview. She wants to encourage other authors to keep trying because even though it may take 20 years, good things can happen. Laudone said there may be more books on the way and that she keeps a notebook of potential story ideas to keep herself writing.

Both books are available on Amazon and in local stores, and a portion of the profits from “How Will You Change the World?” go to protecting elephants.

Jack Lange is a journalism student at Waterford High School.

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