Dayton kids write book about the tornadoes, and you can help get it published

“If anybody thought Dayton was a small city or town that was disconnected, they were very wrong,” program’s founder said.

They say words can heal.

Latesa Williamson, the Dayton poet and performer known as A Slate, said that has been true in her life as well as the students she instructs through The WRITElife Village, her program to empower Dayton Public Schools students through reading and writing poetry.

“Poetry lets us talk without telling our business,” she said.

>> 100+ Daytonians of the Week: A shoutout to Daytonians who did something when the city needed them 

Williamson recently completed a summer series of workshops as part of the Dayton Leadership Academies'  Souring Eagles Enhancement Program (S.E.E.P), an after-school program directed by Krista Matthews.

Now she hopes to see the works of 63 students published in four books and to present them to the children as gifts.

Her organization hopes to raise $555 to print 111 books for the students, some contributed to multiple books, including “After the Tornado: Rainbow Poetry and Fresh Apples.”

Children as young as first-graders wrote poems, haiku, short plays and raps song lyrics for the books, including the one dealing with the tornadoes.

Topics in the other books include summer fun, depression, bullying, equality and self -love.

About $180 has been raised thus far.


Donations can be made via Cash App to $godleadsme
and Pay Pal via

“After the Tornado” is broken up partly by colors found in the rainbow. The elementary school age students express their feelings and thoughts about the 15 Memorial Day tornadoes that caused destruction throughout the Dayton area.

>> RELATED: Tornado changed everything, but mother vows: ‘I have to be strong’

Williamson said people would naturally expect the children to write about despair and the destruction they saw.

That’s not what happened.

Instead, many of the children expressed strength and gratefulness.

“They were shocked that that (destruction) was happening, but all they were talking about is people helping people. It was all about community, and it was beautiful.”

Williamson, a recent TEDxDayton presenter, said community members from around the region came together as one in the aftermath of the tornadoes.

>> RELATED: Dayton is more connected than ever. But will it remain that way? 

“ I call the tornadoes the winds of change. If anybody thought Dayton was a small city or town that was disconnected, they were very wrong,” she said. “We are a city of compassion were are a city of strength. We are a city of determination. We are a city of togetherness.”

Examples of works found in the book 64-page book:

Red by Raven Mitchell 


I am thankful for God


I am thankful for my family

I’m grateful for food

I’m thankful for everything I have

I’m thankful for my friends

I’m thankful for my home

Yellow by Kennadi Bailey

I am blessed for this community and how they

helped when the tornado happened

It was sad

I saw many houses knocked down around me

The next day me, my mom and my dad went to The Arena

We was passing out water and food and snacks.

The community is a rainbow

The rainbow is bright

It is full with God’s blessings

I am blessed for this community

I am community

>>  CeeLo Green playing concert in nearby 568-seat theater

Credit: WRITElife

Credit: WRITElife

Orange by Faith Clemons


My feelings were trapped inside a cage

I filled with rage as I stomp off the stage

Inside my mind

On the outside I felt numb and fragile,

My wings were blue

I just want to go home

My mother

I remember

Was sweet

Yet sad

The cage was made with words of hate... about me.

But what if I changed

And felt sane

Which created a scene

I got my thoughts stuck between my heart

I found the key

It was inside of me

I no longer felt trapped inside my mind

I broke free

From inside

I flew home, but the storm was finally gone

I was home,

The wall of stone was not my only home

I loved my mom

As an eagle

I flew home with my heart filled with love

And my Mom was watching


From above

About the Author