Local Author Ponders “What Is A Dream” In New Children’s Book
by James Coulter
I wonder what I’ll dream tonight?
What places will I go?
I guess until I close my eyes
I’ll never really know.
Little Ari ponders this very query while preparing for bed. She soon hears a voice ask her, “What is a dream?”
She looks to see that it’s none other than her dog, Pepper, talking to her. At first, she’s surprised to hear her pet talking to her; but upon realizing that Pepper is her friend, she quickly calms down and accepts her dream-like reality.
Together they go on an epic journey to find the answer to their question. Through the five senses, they learn how a dream looks, sounds, feels, and also what a dream smells and tastes like. Little Ari even reveals a magic formula to create your own dream.
“What is a Dream?” is the second book in the children’s book series, “Let’s Go Dreaming”, written by Lakeland author Shanita Allen. Last year, she published her first book in the series, “Sleep, Tiny Dreamer”, a lullaby-ish book that encourages children to think about the things they will see and do in their dreams as they go to bed.
Allen works as a Behavior Analyst. She has more than 17 years of experience serving individuals with developmental disabilities in the Hillsborough County area. As someone who loves to read and write, she wanted to create her own children’s book series to put the skills she learned as a Behavioral Analyst into practice.
“My driving inspiration behind all of my books is to encourage young minds to believe in themselves, to know that they can have anything they set their minds to as long as they have the confidence and courage,” Allen said.
Her journey towards becoming a children’s book author started nearly two years ago. She wrote the initial rough drafts of the first nine books in her series in August 2018. She even shared her preliminary work with fellow writers at a local writer’s group, Writer’s For All Seasons, led by local author and agent Evelyn Rainey.
Since her first book, “Sleep Tiny Dreamer”, was published in September 2019, Allen has experienced tremendous success as an up-and-coming author. Her Facebook page has received more than one thousand likes, and the Amazon reviews for her first book have consistently received five-star ratings.
One of the reviewers even visited the skit that she performed for several children at the New River Library in Pasco County last year to promote her book. The reviewer mentioned how much his eleven grandchildren loved hearing the story read to them by him.
“This young Author should be very proud,” he wrote. “She’s touching so many lives of all ages, reminding some of us, To Dream again!”
Allen also had the honor of being featured in a cover article in The Ledger, receiving a thank you letter from the British royal family, and even receiving a personalized letter from the Honorable Sheriff Grady Judd.
She was scheduled to have her first book signing at Barnes & Noble earlier this year in April, but that event, like many other events, were postponed due to the current COVID-19 crisis. Allen had the opportunity to visit countless schools and classrooms to speak to children about her book, yet recent events have forced her to do most of her promotional work virtually.
“My expectations are eventually to get back to somewhat of a normalcy, so that I can physically connect with my audience,” she said. “I love being able to go into a classroom, and read to the children and have that individualized attention I was giving each and every one of them when I read them my story and ask about their thoughts and input and what their dreams were.”
Allen not only hopes to eventually return to visiting schools, libraries, and book stores for books readings and other events, but she also hopes that children will be able to safely leave home to attend these events.
“I want to give them hope that everything is going to be okay, things will return to normal at some point, they just have to be patient and keep thinking positive,” she said.
Moreover, she hopes that children will be just as inspired reading her books as she was writing them. She wanted to share an inspiring message for young readers to dream big.
“Nothing is beyond your reach,” she said. “Doesn’t matter where you came from, doesn’t matter how much money you have, doesn’t matter your race or religion, all that matters is that you believe in yourself and you keep striving, you don’t take no for an answer.”
To learn more about “Let’s Go Dreaming”, visit her website at: https://www.letsgodreaming.com
Her two books are available for purchase on Amazon: amazon.com/author/shanitaallen