LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 18, 2023) — Nigel Taylor wrote a children’s book in 2017. He held the first copy of this book, “The Endless Possibilities with Nora and Vincent,” in 2022. Though the five years between those two moments posed challenges, Taylor remained determined to bring his book to life.
A third-year doctoral student in the University of Kentucky College of Communication and Information, Taylor started the writing process when he was in graduate school in Boston. While brainstorming ideas for a creative project, Taylor came across a study that shocked him
According to a 2019 study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Cooperative Children’s Book Center, children’s books feature animal characters more frequently than they feature children of color,
“I remember reading that and thinking that’s insane,” Taylor said. “I thought about my favorite children’s books — there were no books with characters that looked like me.”
Taylor began contemplating the experiences of Black and brown children, noting they are often told they can only work in the sports and entertainment industries.
“You could be a basketball player. You could be a football player. You could be a musician. But the exposure to different possibilities is limited,” he said.
Inspired to represent more children of color and encourage them to pursue their passions, Taylor wrote the story that eventually became “The Endless Possibilities of Nora and Vincent” — a children’s book that follows two Black children, Nora and Vincent, and their exploration of different careers.
“I want to remind people that there is more out there — there are so many possibilities — and I know you might not think you can do it, but if you give it an attempt, if you give it a try, then it's possible,” Taylor said.
For Taylor, the easiest part was writing the story. The hardest part was finding an illustrator. Taylor’s mom, an English teacher, drew several sketches for the book so Taylor could provide the illustrator with a vision for Nora and Vincent’s journey.
After searching for an illustrator for years, Taylor met Bryant Billue, a UK College of Education alum, in 2020, and the two instantly clicked. When Taylor discovered by accident that Billue was an artist, he proposed they collaborate on the book. Billue accepted.
“When Nigel shared his story and purpose for the project with me, I was instantly committed,” Billue said. “I knew that with the two of us working together there was no way we could fail.”
Chanel Friday, an integrated strategic communication alum, met Taylor when they lived in the same residence hall during their freshman year of college at UK. Friday edited “The Endless Possibilities of Nora and Vincent” and showed a PDF version of the book to children to gain their perspective. They all loved it.
“I was happy to provide feedback as I could see a little of myself in Nora,” Friday said. “So, it was important to me to provide quality feedback because I know someday, I will be buying children's books. I would want my children to see books with characters that look like them and encourage them to follow their passions outside of what society projects for Black and brown kids.”
Once Taylor and Billue finalized the writing and illustrations, they tried publishing the book, but because of their busy schedules and some bumps in the road, they put their efforts on pause.
“At various points, the project became very overwhelming and frustrating,” Billue said. “Any time doubt would creep into my mind about our ability to finish the book, I would imagine the influence this story would have on Black and minority children, and it gave me the motivation to keep going.”
One day, months later, Billue texted Taylor a picture that changed everything. In the picture, Billue held a physical copy of “The Endless Possibilities with Nora and Vincent” that he paid to have printed. Billue mailed Taylor a copy, and when Taylor held the book in his hands, he knew that his dream was not far from reality.
“I held it. I opened it. I saw it,” Taylor said. “And I knew it was possible at this point.”
With the help of Billue, Taylor's mom and other friends and family, Taylor stayed persistent through the challenges and the journey taught him lessons he will always carry.
“There may be many times where you really do want to give up — or times where you might even give up,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean you can’t get back up and keep moving.”
Taylor is still in the process of looking for a publisher or any tips to get "The Endless Possibilities of Nora and Vincent” printed in bulk. Taylor encourages anyone willing to share to reach out to him via his Instagram account (@nigelmarcellus) or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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