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New book starts a conversation with kids: Let's Talk About Masks

Have you had 'the talk' with your kids? No, not that one, the one about face masks.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — She is a PR professional and a mom and now the Nashville native is also an author. 

The coronavirus pandemic inspired Sara Jo Walker to write a children's book about face masks.

"I honestly tried to avoid any conversations about any of the pandemic for a long time and then I realized this isn't just a cold or flu, it's not going away any time soon. We need to start having some honest conversations," she said. 

Some of those conversations with her own young children focused on face masks. 

"They had one way of life, they get quarantined, and then as they re-enter the world it's totally different. Everyone around them is wearing masks. Their teachers are going to be wearing masks this coming fall. Everywhere you go you're going to see them," she said. 

Credit: WBIR
Variety of cloth face masks

Sara Jo Walker wanted them to get used to the concept. 

So she wrote a book for her son as a file on her computer and called it "Let's Talk About Masks."

Then she realized it would be good for other kids, reached out to a publisher, and now it's for sale online and in some stores.

Credit: Sara Jo Walker
Children find out that beekeepers are among those who wear masks

"It walks children through the man professions that have always worn masks like doctors, veterinarians, bee keepers, astronauts, athletes. So it shows children that this isn't so scary. A lot of people and a lot of our every day heroes have been wearing masks. We even go in to how superheroes wear masks," she said. 

Credit: Shutterstock
The book features people in real life who wear masks

She made a deliberate decision to feature real photos instead of illustrations.

"It's such a real issue and it's a real thing that they're going to be seeing in the community so I decided that real pictures would be great."

"Let's Talk About Masks" is simple and direct and fun to read. 

"It's my hope that this book will provide children with a little bit of clarity about masks and it will take the scariness away," she said. "My three year old is still not into the idea of him wearing masks but he is very comfortable now with other people wearing masks." 

And knowing that behind every mask is a friendly smile.

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Credit: Shutterstock
Behind every mask is a friendly smile