Kids, and heck adults too, should be encouraged to dream big. Dreaming big has cured diseases and built wonderfully complicated structures. It has also encouraged some people to take matters into their own hands to try to make the world a little bit of a better place.
I would like to introduce you to Dallas Clayton, a Los Angeles-based children's book author who not only created an An Awesome Book, but also dared to share big dreams. His goal is simple, but wonderful: Promote children's literacy by encouraging children to dream big. An Awesome book is Dallas' first foray in Children's literature. It is a self-published book sold primarily through the internet and his foundation. With every book sold one book is given away free.
Below is a little interview we conducted with Dallas based on his current book.
Tiffany: How did you get into children's literature?
Dallas: After my son was born I knew I wanted to write a book for him while he was still young enough to appreciate and enjoy it so I set out to write a kids book a day. "An Awesome Book" was the first one I finished. I had never written a kids book before. I didn't really know anything about the world. But like most things I just figured... this looks like fun! So I drew some pictures (never done that before either) and I made some copies and put the book online, and things just sort of took off. The first pressing sold out in about a week, and from there it's just been a real whirlwind. I don't even know how many pressings I'm on right now, I've lost count...Swept up in an amazingly wonderful career.
*For the simple version of this story you can watch this :
Awesome Book Tour from Dallas Clayton on Vimeo.
Tiffany: What was the inspiration for An Awesome Book?
Dallas: My son would always tell me about these dreams he had of magical creatures and fantastic places, but then in contrast a lot of my adult friends when talking about their dreams, their hopes and goals, would say things like "I've been dreaming about buying that sofa." The idea behind an awesome book is inspiring kids and adults to dream a little bigger by remembering how much more fantastical all of their hopes and aspirations can be.
Tiffany: What's your work flow method? Do you do the art first or the text first?
Dallas: Like I said, before I wrote "An Awesome Book" I'd never really drawn anything before so drawing is something I'm still figuring out. I like to approach things from a thematic place. All the best kids books (and in my opinion the best artwork in general) answer larger themes rather than just following a direct action or character. So I like to start with a theme everyone can relate to and just build from there. Dreaming, for instance - that's something everyone can relate to no matter how old, or where they live, or what race, or how much money they have. So once I had that, the rest is just putting sprinkles on the cake.
Tiffany: How long did it take you to write the book?
Dallas: It took me about 30 minutes to write and 6 months to illustrate. Drawing takes forever. Sheesh. I hope it gets quicker as I get better at it. Hat's off to Michelangelo!
Tiffany: What are you hoping people take away from the book?
Dallas: I'm hoping that for a small moment of their day they can have a little break and think about all the amazing possibilities life has to offer. I'm hoping they will be inspired to do fantastic things, solve large problems, make life better for everyone around them. Pretty much just 100% awesomeness.
Awesome World Foundation: Update with Dallas Clayton from Dallas Clayton on Vimeo.
Tiffany: What are your plans for the future? Any new books on the horizon?
Dallas: Yes, since the book came out my life has been non-stop. Lots of touring, reading, writing, drawing, international translations - tons of giving away books to kids with the foundation I started Very Awesome World. I wrote and illustrated five books this year as well, the first of which- a follow up to An Awesome Book - is coming out in October. I kind of just wake up every morning with a new invitation to go somewhere amazing or do something fun in my inbox and just go from there.
Now I dare you to dream big. If you would like to win a copy of An Awesome book you will need to answer the following question: What fantastic dreams do you have for your child (or children you know). Leave your answer in the comment section. Three winners will be chosen at random.
Update 8/25/2010: Thank you everyone for sharing your wonderful dreams. The three winners have been chosen and will be contacted via e-mail.