A Kids’ Lesson in Kindness

November 2022 View more

Gina Marie Lehman wrote Onions Mean I Love You six years ago—before she became a mom, before the pandemic, and before she was diagnosed with breast cancer. By the time it was published this year, the children’s book and its message of kindness held an even deeper meaning for the St. Charles resident.

The idea came to her as she was chopping onions. “My eyes were stinging, and I thought: Why do we do this if it hurts so bad? I realized it’s because I love my husband and I love that he loves my cooking,” she explains. Thinking of how strange this would seem to a child, she began compiling a list of random acts of kindness that often go unnoticed. “The book is essentially about showing love in the smallest ways, through the eyes of a child.”

When the pandemic hit, Lehman’s husband encouraged her to self-publish. During that two-year process, Lehman was diagnosed with cancer and overcame it. Despite such stark challenges, her positivity kept her going. She even tapped her cousin to illustrate the book, portraying characters with all different abilities. “It’s a very inclusive book,” Lehman says. “I want any kid who reads it to think, I can do this.”