Dallas Clayton: Dare to Dream Big
You don't find many people quite like Dallas Clayton.
When the whimsical children's book author is not dreaming up stories or jotting down poems, he can be found spreading joy at schools across the country.
Wearing his signature colorful sneakers, Clayton goes from school to school, helping kids realize that no matter where they come from, anything is possible.
Clayton's adventure started a few years ago after he wrote and illustrated a book for his son called An Awesome Book!. The drawings were bold and the message was simple: Don't ever stop dreaming, and when you do dream, dream BIG.
Not a single publisher was interested in the book, so he took matters into his own hands and published it himself. Clayton also made the story available to read for free online.
Quickly the book made an impact. "It became a bit of a snowball that changed my life in the most dramatic and awesome way," he says.
Since then, he has written two more books in the Awesome series: An Awesome Book of Thanks! and the soon-to-be published Awesome Book of Love!.
His first collection of children's poems, Make Magic! Do Good!, comes out this week.
Clayton says that he loves writing children's books, but they aren't the end-all, be-all.
He is all about sharing ideas and has created a website in the same vein. He explains on his site that while making books is "great fun," it can take a long time. He created the site as a place anyone can post free daily poems, stories, drawings, photos, and ideas.
Clayton says since he first published An Awesome Book!, the biggest thing he's realized is the universality of the idea of dreaming big.
"To me," he says, "it's the greatest compliment in the world to have someone say I'm 45, I don't even have kids, but I'm having a tough time and your book inspired me in some way."
The way that Clayton shares ideas is contagious and he's become a sought-after presenter at schools nationwide. He visits private, charter and public schools in all kinds of communities. He also reads at colleges.
The message he presents at each of his visits can be summed up in a line from his first Awesome Book!. It reads: "Please dream for those who've given up, for those who've never tried."
Jenny is the Education Editor at TakePart. She has been writing for TakePart since 2009 and previously worked in film and television development. She has taught English in Vietnam and tutors homeless children in Los Angeles. Email Jenny | @jennyinglee | TakePart.com