Retired elementary teacher becomes children’s author
Leigh Ann Kaminski, of Buffalo, was an elementary teacher for 36 years. For most of her time teaching, she taught first grade in Mound-Westonka, and for her last 11 years, she taught fifth grade. “My favorite thing was always reading to the students,” she shared.
Kaminski has lived in Buffalo for 31 years with her husband, Mark. Her and her husband have three daughters, Kalyn, Anne, and Lauren, who all attended BHM schools growing up and now, as adults, all live out of state. “My husband and our three daughters really encouraged me to follow my dream of writing a children’s book,” Kaminski said.
She began writing her book during the COVID-19 pandemic. “During the pandemic I felt like we needed a feel-good story,” she expressed. “After retiring, I knew I had to do something,” she continued.
Kaminski published her first book, “Pete the Peacock” in January of this year. Her book was illustrated by one of her past students, Anna Saholt. While a student, Saholt illustrated a book for her cousin; when Kaminski learned this, she asked, “Someday when I write a book, will you illustrate it for me?” Kaminski and Saholt ended up making this happen years later.
“I had so much excitement about it coming to fruition,” Kaminski remarked. She explained that she learned a lot through the publication process. “Waiting was the hardest part; to me, it was so long because I was so excited,” she said.
Kaminski has had the support of family and friends throughout the process of writing her first book. She shared a piece of advice for anyone aspiring to be an author: “Don’t be afraid to try,” she imparted.
“Pete the Peacock” is about a peacock who lacks colorful feathers. Instead of focusing on what he lacks, he focuses on helping his friends. “The five characters in the book are very purposeful,” Kaminski revealed. Each character has a different struggle, and as Pete helps his friends with their struggles, he gains color in his feathers.
“The best children’s stories have a lesson,” Kaminski articulated. One of her favorite parts about having her own book is being able to get back in the classroom. “I just missed being in the classroom, and now, I get to go back in to read my book,” she told.
Kaminski has done readings at several schools, including Northwinds Elementary in Buffalo, Hilltop Elementary in Mound, her niece’s school in Brooklyn Park, kindergarten classes, and she did a book signing at Buffalo Books and Coffee.
Her readings become interactive for the children using a puppet. “I love that I can still work with kids,” she declared. Kaminski plans to do more readings and events. She has already been working on her next books. “My goal is three books,” she conveyed.
Kaminski’s second book is titled “A Work of Art” and is a non-fiction children’s book. Her goal is to have the book completed by October or November of this year. She shared the message in her second book will be about appreciating differences.
“Pete the Peacock” is available at Buffalo Books at 6 Division Street E, Buffalo, Minnesota.