Shakeeka Watts is aiming to inspire African-American girls to work hard to become whatever they want in her first self-published children’s book, “Dream Big.”
“Being an African-American girl in today’s society may have its challenges,” Watts said. “We may be faced with many difficulties such as racism, colorism, and sexism.”
It is very important, shed added, to inform these little girls that no matter what obstacles get in their way, they can become anything they want to be — such as police officers, architects or firefighters — as long as they work hard, set goals and … dream big.
Watts said that she was inspired to write the book while visiting her daughter’s 2nd-grade class.
“Each student was given the opportunity to say what he or she wanted to be when he or she grew up,” Watts said, with the majority of students wantong to be doctors, lawyers and engineers.
“Sadly to say, the African-American students only wanted to become singers, football players or basketball players,” she said, which made her wonder, “Why?”
“Is it because, as African-Americans, we don’t educate our children about different career opportunities or is it because there are not many African-Americans in higher positions for our kids to associate with,” she queried. “At that moment, I decided to write a book to educate our youth, particularly girls, about the opportunities they have.”
The idea of “Dream Big” originally started in January 2011, but Watts postponed it until after graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Art degree with a concentration in advertising and graphics from Wingate University later that year.
“Five years later, I stumbled across my notes in the attic and decided it was time to complete this journey,” she said.
The book was self-published on Sept. 9, 2017 with Kindle Direct Publishing, and can only be purchased at Amazon.com.
Watts enjoys pine-needle basket weaving, and her basketry can be found in Drake Gallery in Wadesboro and the Falling River Gallery in Albemarle. Most importantly, she loves spending time with her daughter.
“As an African-American woman myself, I realize the challenges and burdens African-American little girls have to endure and face to make it in today’s society,” she said, adding this is why she feels that it is important to educate and become positive role models.
“I would like to thank my daughter for inspiring me, and always telling me to never give up on my dreams,” Watts said. “I would like to thank my family for being such an awesome support group and for their professional criticism.”