Think back to your favorite children’s book, and you will instantly feel a sense of wonder and excitement. A really good children’s story will open your eyes to the world, and at the same time, help you understand it. It stimulates your imagination and touches your heart. It’s the best reading experience you can have.
Writer, artist, father and philanthropist Dallas Clayton specializes in giving this experience to as many people (as in both children and adults) as possible. He writes, illustrates and reads children’s books that encourage people to dream big and see the beauty of the world around them. His first effort, An Awesome Book, started as a story for his son, Audio Science Clayton, (whose mother is actress and musician Shannyn Sossamon). “I wanted to write a book for my son while he was still young enough to appreciate it,” he says, “So I started to write a book a day. An Awesome Book was the first book I wrote. Then it changed my life.”
The meticulously and richly illustrated book, which took 10 minutes to write and six months to draw, is an inspiring and moving pro-imagination manifesto that urges its readers to keep dreaming of fantastical things like rocket-powered unicorns and candy cane machines, instead of resorting to dull aspirations such as owning matching silverware and cars that “don’t even run on jellybeans”.
He then followed it up with the possibly even lovelier An Awesome Book of Thanks, which meditates on the magic and beauty that can be found in both mundane and profound things i.e. “balls to kick and kites to fly and places to go when you want to cry”. Clayton promoted and distributed the self-published books through a DIY internet campaign, word of mouth and book tour, and quickly started selling tens of thousands of copies though his website–where you can also download his books for free. (However, it may have helped that Björk and Matthew Barney hosted the initial book launch party). The books spread all over the world, and Dallas found himself traveling all over the country for readings. He uses the profits for his own charity, The Awesome World Foundation, which promotes literacy. For every Awesome book sold, a copy will be donated to a hospital, library, camp or shelter.
The ideas for the books are often born from conversations with Clayton’s son, whom he says influences the way he works, lives and thinks “1000%. Every single aspect of it. All of it.” No wonder then that Clayton’s life seems taken straight out of his books. He encourages his fans to give Valentines to strangers and gives as many books away as possible. He blogs in poetry and can rarely resist jumping into an open body of water. This is his bio:
Dallas Clayton tries to make things that are beautiful.
Sometimes these things are written down.
Sometimes they are drawn.
Sometimes they are wrapped in plastic and sold in important stores for more money than they cost to manufacture.
He loves making most things.
He is most interested in making people happy.
He has a son who is six years old.
He enjoys making him happy most of all.
He would like to do this more and more every day forever.
This is why he writes for children.
When he is not writing for children he is writing for adults and the companies adults run, drawing pictures for those adults, and reading things out loud to crowds of strangers.
He loves strangers.