ATLANTA — During a year with so much uncertainty, a 21-year-old college student spent 2020 trying turn a passion project into a way to help children understand critical topics about hardships they may face.
In 2019, Earnest Lewis took a break from Georgia State University, but he couldn’t take a break from all the ideas in his mind. He started writing short stories for children, filled with uplifting themes.
“Just imagine a modern-age Dr. Seuss," he described.
“Imagination, from self love, loving others. Hope, prosperity, determination, discovery."
Lewis’ stories started getting published - and he kept getting ideas.
"I figured, why not? I couldn't let them go to waste," he said.
He said he decided to keep writing; he finished 11 books last year. A majority of his books are part of an Imagination Series, aimed at helping children's mental health and minority communities.
One of his favorites is "The Journey of the Little Brown Boy."
"The short story focuses on this young brown boy who moved to a purple neighborhood where he saw purple everywhere. And he had to learn to overcome that and just embrace who he really was - his gift conforming to the purple society," he explained.
Lewis’ stories take inspiration from his own experiences and what he sees happening around him. He said he wanted start at the root planting positive messages about real-life situations in the minds of children. His hope was that they sprout into a life of inspiration.
He’s had the chance to read his stories to elementary students in Georgia. And for the children who saw someone who looked like them, it was a subtle reminder for them to know how strong they all are.
"And I remember my very last school visit before the pandemic hit, I actually was brought to tears," Lewis recalled. "Because at the end, they came up and hugged me and said, 'Thank you.'”
Lewis said he doesn't necessarily do it for the money, but for the message.
"That is a thousand times more important to me, actually," he said.
At the end of the book, Lewis said the little brown boy becomes who he truly is.
"He learns to become himself, which is the most most important thing to him," he explained.
“His mother urged him to stop crying and to always keep his head held high. Because you truly a strong one little brown boy, she said a true warrior in my eyes," he said reading the book.
The little brown brown boy then dries his tears.
"He then stood up and shouted to himself, 'I am the little brown boy, and this is who I am.'”
Lewis currently attends Gordon State and is studying psychology. He plans to return to Georgia State to complete his studies in neurology and psychology.
He hopes to write more children’s novels and encourage kids to be passionate about what they love and who they are. His first story, which was 26 pages long, was scrapped and never published.
Nine of his current books are for children, and the other two are short stories for adults to educate them.