College life is supposed to be about pursuing your dream. It’s your chance to discover more about your identity while you begin your work that will impact the world. College is supposed to be a path to making dreams come true.
All too often, though, those dreams you once nutured die in college. They are replaced with dreams for silly things, like the new iPad, or realistic ones, like to just get any job when you graduate.
We learn about the negativity in the world, the constant injustice, and that trying your best doesn’t always yield the desired results. We get busy worrying about what others think. We are taught and encouraged to think logically and critically, to find ‘real’ solutions, and to recognize when a battle cannot be won.
But, should we be so quick to give up on our dreams of a better world? Who doesn’t want things to be different?
Too often we forget those lessons we learned in elementary school of how dreamers impacted the world. Worse yet, we forget how to imagine.
Author and illustrator Dallas Clayton created the Awesome World Foundation to inspire the young and old to hold true to their dreams and to keep their imaginations thriving. The foundation resulted from a children’s book he created that is simply titled “An Awesome Book” which teaches young and old some valuable lessons.
“Yes, there are places in the world where people dream up dreams so simply un-fantastical and practical they seem to lose of all possibility of thinking super things,” the book reads with equally awesome illustrations of ‘dancing animals with diamond-coated wings.’
“Please dream for those who’ve given up, for those who’ve never tried. Please use your dreams to make new dreams for all the dreams that died,” another line reads.
The book was originally created by Clayton as a gift to his son. He shared the book with others who were inspired and began to ask him to make them a copy. Soon enough, the book began to take on a life of its own.
Clayton discovered that the popularity and inspirational message of the book gave him an opportunity. He decided to sell the books, and for every book he sells he gives one away to libraries, schools, hospitals, camps or anywhere where people need a positive message.
This led to the creation of the Awesome World Foundation to promote literacy and dream-making. Clayton went on tour sharing his story with groups young and old and distributing free copies along the way.
While on tour, Clayton got to hear the stories of people who had been inspired by the message of the book.
“I’ve heard so many amazing stories, it’s especially touching to hear from people who are dealing with great hardships, overcoming illness or loss or personal setbacks, who find a kinship and confidence in my work. Those to me are just priceless. Really powerful,” Clayton said in an interview with The Northerner.
Even though the book was geared for children, Clayton said that some of the best audiences on his tour have been with high school students.
“Since writing it I’ve definitely found a lot of support from the college market and as graduation gifts, which was a pleasant surprise,” he added. “Well, although I set out to write for kids I also set out to write from a thematic place, meaning rather than making a story about a monkey or a goat I wanted to write a story that answered larger questions. In this book the theme is “dreaming” which is something that transcends age, race, region, background and can essentially be interpreted by any number of people all over the world.”
You can read the entire book online at veryawesomeworld.com. The Awesome World Foundation gives away a book for each sold. In addition, they take donations on their web site.
“In terms of what makes it worthwhile, I guess that’s up to the person donating to judge what they think is worthwhile but for me I think supporting children’s literacy, reading to kids, giving to kids who might never have gotten a book like this and teaching them that their dreams can become a reality no matter how big is a pretty worthwhile cause. Plus it’s fun!” Clayton said.
Additional writings by Clayton are also available free for viewing, including several poems.
Clayton left The Northerner’s readers with the following advice: “Be stoked on what you are doing. Don’t do anything unless it’s rad.”
For more information on working with The Awesome World Foundation, or to find out how you may quality to receive books for your school or cause, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.