A Book with a Special Purpose
Deedee Cummings’ journey to becoming a published author has been far from traditional. While the Louisville native has always worked with children, she initially had a career in Child Protective Services and later attended law school before becoming a therapist. “I wanted to help people, and I wanted to solve problems. I wanted to try to fix things,” Cummings said.
When working with her young clients, she “realized that when I read with a child and the characters had stories that sounded like their life or the characters looked like them, they were more invested in reading the story.” She began to help them write stories about their lives as a way to process their experiences and give them the power to create their own positive narrative about themselves. Cummings quickly became aware of how rare it is to find children’s books that reflected the diversity of her young therapy clients. “They didn’t have characters that reflected what they looked like, or the experiences that they had been through.” After witnessing how therapeutic storytelling could be, she began writing stories of her own, and now has published 11 children’s books. In 2014, she founded Make a Way Media, a Louisville publishing company that focuses on telling diverse stories.
Cummings’ newest book, In the Nick of Time, holds a special place in her heart. Over a decade ago, she began collecting Christmas stories with African American characters to give to her children. “But then one year, there were just no more books to give, which was astounding to me. If you want to get a book on almost any topic, you can get one, but when I was looking for holiday books with black characters, the selection ended.”
One of Cummings’ favorite classic storylines is when it’s up to a child to help Santa save Christmas. When she was unable to find a version of this storyline with a black main character, she decided it was up to her to write one. Inspired by her son Nick, In the Nick of Time tells the story of a young boy who accidentally was sent a letter for St. Nick. He soon learns how privileged he is and works alongside Santa Claus to give a local family the Christmas they deserve.