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Houlton woman pens children’s book

HOULTON, Maine — Houlton resident Kim Larkins always dreamed of one day crafting a children’s book, and now that dream has become a reality.

A licensed clinical social worker for the past 30 years, Larkins has dedicated her career to working with children and families in the mental health and human services field. 

So it should come as no surprise that her first book, “Emma Lou the Yorkie Poo: Breathing in the Calm,” draws heavily from her experiences in that field.

Published by Loving Healing Press, the story revolves around Emma Lou, a playful pup, who is a little dog with big worries. 

According to the author, Emma Lou loves playing with her best friend, Pearl, but Pearl doesn’t always pay attention to Emma Lou’s worries. With the help of some new friends, Caleb the Calico cat, Patrick the pig and Gigi the ginormous giraffe, Emma Lou and Pearl begin to learn a new technique to calm their minds and bodies. Parents, educators, counselors — and especially children — can benefit from Emma Lou and her friends’ curious adventure to a mindful experience.

Both Emma Lou and Pearl are family dogs of Larkins.

Most recently, Larkins worked in an educational setting with Southern Aroostook and Katahdin schools to focus on the development of mindfulness skills in the classroom as part of a three-year grant. She now has a private practice in Houlton. 

This fall, she has contracted with East Grand School  and Katahdin to continue offering her services to students.

“When I go  into classrooms, I teach kids mindfulness,” Larkins said. “You see a lot of kids with anxiety and depression. Those are the main referrals I get. There are many kids with ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) or who have experienced some form of trauma that causes difficulty in their ability to focus.”

“Emma Lou the Yorkie Poo: Breathing in the Calm” introduces parents, therapists, educators and children to some of the many benefits of mindfulness. 

Larkins said research shows that mindfulness in education improves attention, emotional regulation, compassion for self and others, and overall well-being for both students and teachers. The Mindfulness Curriculum focuses on body awareness, thoughts, mindfulness of breathing, mindful bodies and listening, mindful seeing, emotions, slow motion, walking, mindful eating, mindful test takin, and heartfulness.

Writing is part of a family tradition for Larkins as her mother, Kay Trickey, worked for years at the Houlton Pioneer Times newspaper. 

“I have always been interested in writing and felt that I wanted to write a book someday, especially since there are not enough books out there on this topic,” she said. 

Getting the book published was about a year-long process, Larkins said. She sent in to numerous publishing companies and either did not receive any response at all or received a standard rejection letter.

“I was getting discouraged,” she said. “I was at a national conference on trauma in southern Maine and there was a publisher there selling books. I chatted with him, but didn’t mention my book.”

When she returned to Houlton, Larkins said she decided to reach out to the individual to discuss her book. She sent a copy of her story and the publisher expressed an interest in printing her book because of its unique content tying mental health issues into a children’s book.

In her first month, Larkin’s book has already sold 100 copies and she is already thinking of a follow up story.

Larkins has a master of social work degree from the University of Maine. She has two adult children, Sarah and Theron and two grandchildren, Guyer and Giavanna. She enjoys travel, music, quilting, and the serenity and pleasures found in nature. You can contact her by email at kimlarkinslcsw@gmail.com or on Facebook @kim.larkins.author.

Her book is available for purchase at Houlton Regional Hospital’s gift shop and online through Amazon.

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