Saxe Gotha Elementary school teacher, Sarah Shealy, reads her self-published book “Maria’s Pink Mask” to her students.

A Saxe Gotha Elementary School teacher has written a children’s book to motivate her students to wear masks upon returning to school.

“Maria’s Pink Mask” is about a young girl who doesn’t want to wear her mask while going to school. When Maria’s mother explains to her the importance of wearing one during the coronavirus pandemic, her attitude starts to change.

Third-grade teacher Sarah Shealy wanted to address Lexington 1 school district’s new rule of required masks to prevent the spread of the highly contagious virus in a creative way. She thought writing a book was the perfect way to help them adjust.

“I wanted that to be a way for the kids to connect to that and realize the importance of wearing the mask in school just because it’s so new to them,” Shealy, who has taught for four years, said.

“Maria’s Pink Mask” is the first book Shealy has written and published. She wrote, edited, and illustrated the book in July, just before school reopened in August. It is now marketed in paperback format on Amazon.

Since school started on Aug. 31, Shealy said students have adjusted well to masks and the gold stars they use in hallways to stay six feet apart. Saxe Gotha principal Beth Houck said school administrators also set up sanitizing stations in the school and remind students to wear their masks.

Shealy said her passion for writing and her favorite activity with her students— reading aloud — inspired her to write the book. Reading aloud has also helped them on Zoom, one of the video platforms students use for virtual school.

“I think reading aloud to them is kind of the most fun because I enjoy changing the voices and they like that, so I just enjoy reading to them,” she said. “The books have been really helpful in teaching them expectations for Zoom and for all the assignments they have to do.”

Shealy originally wrote “Maria’s Pink Mask” for her students only, but then her family encouraged her to publish it. Her mother, Tracy Hilke, said Shealy’s book is a reflection of the writing skills her daughter had at just eight years old.

“From the time she was a young student in elementary school… when she wrote stories she always wrote dialogue very, very well.” Hilke said. “Her story ‘Maria’s Pink Mask’ has a lot of dialogue in it, and [when] she read the story to me I just loved it.”

Hilke said the book is an example of how Shealy uplifts students by telling them and showing them that they are important and that their activities are important, especially during a pandemic.

Houck said “Maria’s Pink Mask” was the school’s chosen book for the yearly staff reading at Saxe Gotha Elementary. When Shealy shared it with other teachers, they “ran with it.” The book gained reviews on Amazon and teachers started sharing it on Facebook.

Shealy is currently working on chapter books for students in middle school and older elementary school students. She plans to write more children’s books in the future. “Maria’s Pink Mask” can be found on Amazon in paperback format. The book is on sale for $9.99 where it has received four out of five stars and reviews from buyers.


The cover of Sarah Shealy’s self-published book features an illustration of a little girl with her pink mask.

The 24 page book is a conversation between a little girl and her mother about the importance of wearing a mask during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The bulletin board at Saxe Gotha Elementary school welcomes students with this Coronavirus update: ”Masks can’t hide how glad we are to see you! We got this!”

The use of masks is stressed at Saxe Gotha Elementary school in Columbia as can be seen in the hallway bulletin board and the classroom safety sheets.