A few years ago, after watching the Disney film “Frozen,” WilmU alumnus Lenny Williams realized that there was a major lack of diversity in animated movies.
“Instead of complaining I decided to take matters into my own hands and create a story that children all over the world could relate to,” says Williams. The result is his first children’s book, “Dreaming Their Way Out,” a story about seven orphans from diverse cultures who yearn desperately for a family.
“I truly believe in the power of all people — no matter what color,” says Williams. “I hope people can realize that this is what children’s books and movies should shoot for. I’m all about embracing people’s differences, not ignoring them.”
Several of the characters are named for Williams’ brothers, a cousin and a young friend who inspired him to create the story. “When I tuck my little brothers in at night and read them a children’s book,” he says, “I want them to be able to identify with someone in the story.”
Another inspiration is nature. Many of the scenes in the storybook are set in the jungle, forest and under the starlit night sky. Williams searched for an illustrator who could bring his words to life and found a graphic designer in Germany to illustrate his story.
Williams has received positive feedback about his multicultural storybook at local book signings and is hard at work on additional children’s stories. The author, who graduated from WilmU with a degree in Criminal Justice, currently works with youth at the Glenn Mills School, a juvenile justice facility in Pennsylvania.
“I truly believe in the power of all people — no matter what color,” says Williams. “I hope people can realize that this is what children’s books and movies should shoot for. I’m all about embracing people’s differences, not ignoring them.” — Lori Sitler
Photo credit: Ron Dubick