By Sarah Sikandar
Signal Staff Writer
When Lisa Kort’s son was 5, they were once driving down Valencia Boulevard around Memorial Day weekend. The avenue was lined with American flags and images of soldiers.
Intrigued by the commemoration, her son asked her about the flags. Kort told him those men and women were national heroes who fought for the freedom of our country. Then came the question that would end up in Kort’s first children’s book more than 20 years later: “Mom! What’s freedom?”
“Freedom Is in Your Heart” answers the question in ways a child would comprehend. From the freedom to choose who you are, to choosing how you want to be, and who you play with, the book encapsulated small but significant examples of how a child understands personal freedom in social settings. But how do you make a child understand what freedom is?
Kort wanted answers without getting lost in the details. Her book is about what freedom to choose means – where you choose to live; what you choose as a profession; what you eat, and which sports you want to play. From small choices leading to important life choices, the book is an initiation into the idea.
Kort’s son is now 25, but during pandemic lockdowns and an unpredictable employment situation, she had time and space on her hands to work on the book. Pandemic-driven lockdowns brought in immense negativity and uncertainty. “During those times I thought to myself, this is the time to do something positive.”
Through the process, the book itself became a nurturing experience for herself.
“I constantly reminded myself that just because you’re not working and socializing, life doesn’t end. That’s when I decided to pick up the project.”
Publishing a book for a first-time writer, however, can be a daunting task. Kort said, “It isn’t easy. I gave a lot to this book, and now I’m hoping it is endorsed by more parents and teachers to introduce a simple yet important topic.”
Freedom means different things for everyone. For Kort, it meant the freedom to be whatever you want to be. “Writing it has been pretty simple.”
Although freedom is a nuanced concept, Kort thinks the book is a great starting point for parents who wish to speak to their kids about what freedom can mean within their own settings.