An interview in partnership* with The Children’s Book Review and Kate Searle, author of My Soul Treasure.
Kate Searle is a geologist, wife, and mum who lives in the southwest of Australia. Becoming a mother sparked Kate’s love of storytelling. She has an innate passion for instilling in children a sense of personal empowerment. She has woven her love of gemstones into her debut book, My Soul Treasure, to teach children about the incredible powers of their own souls.
In this interview, Kate talks about mindfulness for kids, spirituality, using gemstones as a metaphor for a soul, and she shares some amazing tips for how My Soul Treasure can be used by parents and educators to help children learn about emotional intelligence.
Tell us a little bit about the inspiration for My Soul Treasure – how did you come to be writing about mindfulness for children?
Kate Searle: During the COVID lockdowns in early 2021, I felt a burst of inspiration from something bigger than me to let my children know that they were safe, they were powerful, and regardless of what happens in the outside world each day, they can draw upon their inner strengths (their soul treasure) to help them overcome anxiety and navigate this wild and woolly world. This burst of inspiration led me to write my books, Find Your Treasure (a junior fiction chapter book), My Soul Treasure (a picture book), and create a mindfulness game for children called ‘Find Your Treasure.’
Did you find the concept of a “soul” hard to understand when you were a child? What or who helped you to understand it better?
Yes, as a child, I found the explanation of our souls by religions confusing and hard to understand; it was way too complicated. But my parents and grandparents talked to me about our Guardian Angels who watch over and protect us. They taught me to pray to them. This always comforted me as a child and introduced me to the idea that there was a bigger, more timeless, and spiritual part of me that I could connect with.
Why did you choose gemstones as a metaphor for the soul?
I LOVE gemstones!! I collected them as a kid. There was literally a shell and gemstone museum/shop on the street that I grew up on! This love of gemstones led me to study geology at university and into a career as a geologist. When I became a Mum, I noticed that my children also loved collecting gemstones and rocks, and a lot of their friends did too! Children seem to be captivated and fascinated by gems.
During the COVID lockdowns, when I felt my burst of inspiration to create my books and games, the game I created was a treasure hunt for my kids. It includes clue cards that they must solve, which leads them to the treasure – a bag of gemstones with matching storyteller cards. Each gemstone symbolizes or represents a power (or inner strength) we have in the treasure chest of our souls. For example, the power to be creative, imaginative, and courageous. Using this metaphor came to me whilst I was meditating outside one night under the stars, and it resonated with me because it is a simple, fun, and engaging way that children can visualize their souls.
By understanding that they have a treasure chest within them, children can discover that they are not just their thoughts, feelings, or appearances but powerful souls being human.
The book opens with a musical score—can you tell us more about that? Why did you include it, and how did it come about?
The song in My Soul Treasure came to me as a burst of inspiration one night while I was in the shower! At the time, I was writing Find Your Treasure (my chapter book) and starting to write My Soul Treasure. The song came through clearly and directly. I started singing it and doing the matching hand gestures! I quickly recorded it on my phone (I can’t really hold a tune!). So I had to tap into my soul sapphires (my courage gems) and worked up the courage to sing the song to my children’s music teacher at their school, and he wrote the sheet music (arranged it) for me.
I included the song at the beginning of the book because I can imagine children one day singing this song in their classrooms at the beginning of their day to help them raise their vibration, connect with their souls and be in a wonderful frame of mind to start their day.
Do you feel this story is relevant to readers regardless of their religious affiliation (or no religion)? Why or why not?
Yes, I believe that My Soul Treasure can be relevant to children regardless of their religious affiliation or lack of religion. This is because it approaches the concept of our soul and inner strengths from a broader, more universal perspective that can resonate with people from diverse backgrounds. It is not exclusive to a particular religion or belief system.
The metaphor I have used of gemstones and jewels to represent our inner strengths and the idea of having a treasure chest within our soul is relatable and applicable to anyone, regardless of their religious or non-religious views. It highlights the intrinsic value and uniqueness of every one of us, emphasizing that everyone possesses inner qualities and strengths that they can tap into. By encouraging children to understand that they are more than just their thoughts, feelings, or appearances, but powerful souls being human, My Soul Treasure encourages self-reflection, self-discovery, and the nurturing of positive emotions and experiences.
These themes are not dependent on religious beliefs but rather on personal growth, self-awareness, and the development of one’s inner potential. I believe “My Soul Treasure” can serve as a meaningful and inclusive resource for children, guiding them on a journey of self-discovery and empowerment, irrespective of their religious affiliation or lack thereof.
How do you think parents and educators can use this book to educate children about emotional intelligence? What do you imagine when you picture your book being read and used in a classroom or learning setting?
I can envision My Soul Treasure being used in many ways by parents and educators to help educate children about emotional intelligence, including:
- Facilitate discussions – parents and educators can read the book aloud and then turn to one of the colorful gem pages (for example, the ruby red coziness soul gem page) and ask children open-ended questions about how it feels when we feel scared or alone and how we can tap into our soul rubies to help us feel cozy, safe and sound by saying the positive affirmation, visualizing a bubble of rosy red light around us and then choosing to do an activity or spend time being cozy, for example wrapping up in a big blanket.
- Promote storytelling – following on from the example above, parents and educators could ask children to tell a story or suggest activities or things they like to do, which helps their soul rubies shine bright. They might talk about hugging their favorite teddy, relaxing on the couch, or watching their favorite movie. Parents and educators could encourage this discussion by telling stories from their own life about what they like to do to connect with their soul rubies and feel cozy, safe, and sound.
- Identify emotions – My Soul Treasure can be used by parents and educators to help children identify and explore a range of emotions. Each soul gem page in the book provides descriptions of both uncomfortable (e.g.: overwhelmed and stuck on the orange opal page) and comfortable emotions (e.g.: creative and colorful on the orange opal page), offering a platform for open discussions. By using the book, parents and educators can create a safe space for children to freely express and vocalize their emotions, which fosters emotional intelligence. Through the uncomfortable emotions described on the soul gem pages, children can learn to recognize and understand their feelings and realize that it is normal to experience a wide range of emotions. They can engage in conversations about these emotions, which opens the space for empathy and support to be given by parents, educators, and their friends/siblings. Likewise, the positive affirmations associated with comfortable emotions on each soul gem page (e.g., “I am happy and confident”) can spark discussions about the experiences and activities that we can engage in to contribute to these positive emotions. Children can share their own stories and ideas of activities they enjoy doing to cultivate these feelings within themselves, which will help to empower them to actively manifest these positive emotions in their daily lives.
- Creative Activities – Parents and educators can use My Soul Treasure as inspiration for art and craft projects that children could undertake after listening to the story. They could draw a picture inspired by one of the colorful soul gem pages or decorate a treasure chest. They could bring in a gemstone or rock from home to decorate or design a collage or picture of their own gemstone and give it a unique inner strength. These hands-on activities help children to engage with the concept of connecting with their souls and tapping into their soul treasure in a fun way.
- Journaling and Reflection – Parents and educators could encourage children to keep a journal or diary where they can write about their soul treasure and their inner strengths. And keep a record or list of the positive experiences or activities that they enjoy doing which help their soul gems shine bright. For example, they could write a list of activities that they like to do to help them feel imaginative (e.g., dressing up, playing imaginary games, making vision boards, and telling stories). This practice helps children to develop self-reflection skills and deepen their emotional intelligence.
Ultimately, I imagine My Soul Treasure being read in a setting to create a warm, comfortable, safe space where children are encouraged to be interactive. They can sing the song together or play relaxing music in the background. Share stories or ideas about activities they aspire to experience to help their soul gems shine bright. This fosters self-discovery, self-awareness, and self-expression and encourages communication and connection.
What advice do you have for readers who struggle to control their emotions?
My advice is to let your feelings and emotions out. Children should not feel pressure to control their emotions but be encouraged to express themselves in a way that is safe and healthy too. Sometimes that means having a big cry, stomping our feet on the ground, or writing down how we feel, then ripping up the paper and throwing it in the air. Once they have expressed their emotions and some time has passed, I would encourage them to ask themselves—what soul treasure do I need? Then turn to the page in My Soul Treasure that resonates with them.
For example, if they feel like they need the yellow diamond happiness page, is there something they can do that day, out in the sunshine, which will help them feel better? Maybe sitting in the sunshine, kicking a ball, laying on the warm sand, feeling the sunshine on their back, or riding their bike.
What other favorite mindfulness resources and activities would you recommend to parents and educators working on mindfulness with their kids?
As well as incorporating gemstones to promote mindfulness, I would recommend parents and educators:
- take children out into nature as much as possible
- walk through nature together and encourage them to listen to the wind, the birds, and the leaves; point out small things for them to notice, like tiny flowers, nuts, and what the ants are doing.
- allowing them lots of time to play freely and without direction
- give them time and space to get muddy and explore nature
- encourage quiet time where they just talk to their favorite teddy bears or dolls
- teach them to talk to their angels
- at dinner, encourage them to say something they are grateful for that day
- encourage them to choose which colorful clothes they want to wear to be able to express themselves
- draw and paint often
- tell children stories from their own life about what they like to do to practice mindfulness
What stories about emotions did you read when you were young? Do you have favorite books you would recommend to readers who enjoyed My Soul Treasure?
When I was a child, I don’t remember there being many books about emotions. I would have loved reading My Soul Treasure when I was little!! My favorite books were magical stories, like The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, and I adored Jim Henson’s The Storyteller series.
I would definitely recommend readers who enjoyed reading My Soul Treasure read the picture book Aria Finds Her Voice by Sarah Palmer and all of the books by Tracey Moroney, including the ‘The Things I Love’ series.
Do you plan to work on any more children’s books? What exciting projects are coming up next for you?
I am very excited about getting ready to launch two new exciting products I have created:
- ‘Find Your Soul Treasure’ Activity Workbook – which is an interactive workbook that brings the story of My Soul Treasure to life. It has a section for each soul gem and includes hundreds of fun activities and ideas of ways children can connect with their soul treasure. Parents, educators, and therapists can use the Workbook to help children to heal and empower them.
- I am about to launch my children’s game that I have created called ‘Find Your Treasure’, which is a treasure hunt game that includes clue cards and real gemstones. The game inspires children to find their own soul treasure!
- I am also dreaming up the sequel to my chapter book!!
For more information, visit www.soultreasures.com.au.
About the Book
Written by Kate Searle
Illustrated by Alison Mutton
Ages 4+ | 28 Pages
Publisher: Kate’s Soul Treasure (2022) | ISBN-13: 978-0645415421
Publisher’s Book Summary: My Soul Treasure is a beautifully illustrated children’s book designed to teach children how to connect with their inner selves and cultivate self-awareness and self-love. It follows the story of a young girl who goes on a journey beyond her mind, body, and heart to discover her own inner treasures. The story includes positive affirmations and visualization exercises to help children develop mindfulness and self-reflection skills.
Buy the Book
This interview—Kate Searle Discusses My Soul Treasure—was conducted between Kate Searle and Dr. Jen Harrison. For similar books and articles, follow along with our content tagged with Authors and Kate Searle.