This is me.
Back when my hair was done. Back when one of my best friends and I could steal away on a Saturday afternoon and take silly pictures at a bookstore. Back when I got dressed every day and carried a purse.
My name is Deedee Cummings, and I don’t think I’ve ever introduced myself to you. My story is a long one, but I’ll tell you this part: I love books.
I didn’t always know how much until I became a therapist.
I started my career as a CPS worker. It was the toughest job I’ve ever had. I was a single mother, a CPS worker, and went to law school at night. Everyone asked me how I did it. I have no idea. My gut response has always been, I just “made a way”.
It took me six years to get a four-year college degree, three years to get a two-year Master’s degree, and five years to finish a three-year law degree, but I did it.
By the time I finished law school, I wanted nothing to do with family court anymore. I became a therapist because I wanted to heal instead of fight. I worked mostly with children in foster care, and it was the saddest job I’d ever had. There were many more heartbreaking stories than success stories.
It was then that I figured out the power of storytelling and books. I saw how helping children in terrible situations tell their own story on paper changed their entire perspective on life. I saw how it gave them hope. I saw that it gave them power.
After that, I started to write my own stories. It was just as powerful for me. I embraced this newfound joy, and I couldn’t seem to write fast enough.
I once saw a cartoon, and I wish I had saved it because it summed up my ambition back then (and now!). There was an overweight man on an exam table, and as the doctor enters the room, the man says, “What’s wrong with me, Doc?” The doctor says, “Well, you’ve got about 5 or 6 books inside you.”
This was so me. This was, and is, my life. Books are my therapy. Writing is an intervention.
In five years, I published eleven diverse children’s stories. All focused on mental health techniques, coping skills, and something we need right now: HOPE.
Through therapy, and now through a reading program for adolescents I founded called It Pays to Read, I work with children on sharing their stories of trauma as a way to heal from the terrible things they have experienced. Something that some of us as adults will never experience, and yet as children, they have seen some of the worst behavior humanity has to offer.
Yet they have HOPE.
James Baldwin said, “You think your pain and heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.”
This work has also lead me to want Louisville, Kentucky, to have a premier book festival- one that spreads a love of books and the power of literacy on behalf of our city to a national level. It was a natural transition for me. One that I am so very proud of and one that I hope you are too.
I have HOPE that I will see you at the Louisville Book Festival in October.
Stay in touch right here or on our website at LouisvilleBookFestival.com.
Celebrate with Make A Way Media!
My 2019 diverse picture book, This is the Earth has been winning awards!
This is the Earth, a diverse picture book that shares a message of peace, love, respect, compassion, and inclusion. Published in early 2019, the book’s core message is this: peace is meant for all of us and it is everyone’s responsibility to care for each other like the family that we are. AND it has won TWO notable awards! Read more about this timely (and much-needed) picture book HERE.
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