EVELETH-GILBERT — Melissa Lautigar, Eveleth-Gilbert elementary school teacher, has wanted to write a children's book for a long time. It finally became a reality with the publication of "Somebody's Hero," dedicated "to my 4th grade students who inspire me every day." And the inspiration came to Lautigar in a dream.
Lautigar told the Mesabi Tribune, "It is hard to try to find a unique topic for a book that others would like to read. As a teacher, I always try to look for books that I can use in my classroom, to teach skills, so my heart was set on a children's book. So where did the story idea come from? About two years ago, I had a dream. It was about every day acts of kindness."
Specific scenarios appeared in Lautigar's mind, "so at 3:00 a.m. I was up writing them down. When I got up in the morning, I added to the list. I set this project aside for a bit, because I was doubting myself... I went back and forth wondering if people would want to read something that I wrote." And when she came back to the book, "the overall theme was random acts of kindness that make you a hero in someone's eyes when they receive that act of kindness."
Lautigar's wish was "to show the kids that they didn't need to be famous to be a hero and to be a hero, you don't need to have a lot of money." She said, "All you need to do is small things that would make someone else's day, make them smile, or save them when they are down. This stuck with me as I began to write."
Lautigar's process was to write a little, set it aside. "As COVID hit, I was seeing a need for my story, because I felt that we were getting away from thinking about other people’s needs first, and we were too wrapped up into ourselves. That is when I decided to publish."
The book printed by Balboa Press with colorful illustrations begins:
I was a hero to somebody.
Never mind how big or small.
I was a hero to somebody,
to some people at the mall.
The door was opened for a family whose young ones wailed and cried.
Also, for an older guy who smiled as he walked by.
Just before the door was closed another man arrived.
Somebody in a wheelchair with a thankful high five."
The overwhelming response to "Somebody's Hero" has been positive, she said. "I've had friends say that they have read this with their family, and the kids, without prompting, wanted to be heroes, so they began a list of ideas that they could do to help others." Another friend of Lautigar "uses it at her day care to get her students thinking about how they can help their families and others they care about." Lautigar said she has seen projects at Franklin Elementary in Eveleth where she teaches "focusing on everyday acts of kindness" and she is "humbled and thankful for the outpouring of support from my family and friends and for their inspiring words and actions in regards to my book."
The author is a McKinley native, daughter of Tom "Crow" and Cathy Lautigar, and she attended Nelle Shean Elementary School in Gilbert. In her ninth grade year Gilbert and Eveleth merged and she graduated from Eveleth-Gilbert High School, where she took part in volleyball, basketball, softball, band and cheerleading. After graduation Joyce Wirtanen recruited her to play volleyball at Mesabi Community College, where she also participated in basketball and softball and made lifetime friends. After Mesabi she attended Bemidji State University, graduating with a degree in elementary education. She later earned a master's degree through St. Mary's University-Winona.
The book can be purchased through Jon’s Drug of Eveleth, Margie’s Roosevelt of Eveleth and Amazon.com. Lautiugar said, "I hope this story will inspire teachers and families to think about small acts of kindness that they can perform to make someone's day."