General Nash students Lewis and Ndlovu on a quest to inspire others through writing

Makayla+Lewis+and+Nokukhanya+Ndlovu+proudly+holding+their+published+book+at+Nash+elementary.

Emily Dahms

Makayla Lewis and Nokukhanya Ndlovu proudly holding their published book at Nash elementary.

Most authors spend their entire lives devoted to writing new books or other pieces to add to their published collection. However, for a talented eleven and twelve year old at General Nash Elementary, writing and publishing a book was just a stepping stone in their, well… very young careers.

Makayla Lewis, eleven years old, and Nokukhanya Ndlovu, twevle years old, are sixth grade students currently attending General Nash. Along with being published child authors, these two girls are aspiring entrepreneurs, singers, dancers, and actors, looking to make their next big mark.

The girls kicked off their writing careers with the creation of their first published work, The Quest of the Dragon Diamond. The novel is about two sisters, May and Maya, who are going through a tough loss, leading them to move to Camden Falls, Rokanda with their grandparents where they meet new friends, partake in many adventures, and even end up saving their town along the way.

Lewis and Ndlovu were only around the ages of nine and ten when they got inspired to write this story. Once the idea sparked them, they immediately took action and began brainstorming.

“It happened back in fourth grade. We were sitting in class like any other day, and Nokukhanya got this idea of writing a book and she asked me, and I said that it was a great idea,” Lewis said.
“We got paper and a pencil, went over to where the books were, and we found some inspiration from two books, one involving two girls; that’s how we got the inspiration for May and Maya, and another book, where we got the idea of a boy named Theodore.”

The process of writing and revising did not always run as smoothly or as quickly as the girls had hoped. It took two and half years until their book was finally published when they were in sixth grade. Trial and error played a big role in their steps to publication.

“It was complicated because we had a wild imagination process. We started out with twenty chapters, and most of it didn’t make sense… We ended up shortening it down to fourteen chapters that got to the main plot,” Ndlovu explained.

“The process was definitely a long process, especially when we were starting to learn how to write a book, but it was really fun…After we wrote the whole book, with the twenty chapters, we printed it out. We read through the whole thing and kind of revised and edited it on paper,” Lewis said.

The girls knew what it took to work as a team to get the job done. Lewis and Ndlovu were able to figure out a manageable process that worked for both of them, which resulted in productivity.

“Our writing process was sort of that I would write a rough draft of my ideas, and just scoot it over to [Makayla]. I like to call it “Makaylafying” it, where she would add more detail,” Ndlovu described.

Of course, they couldn’t have accomplished this feat by themselves. Lewis and Ndlovu received an abundance of support and help throughout their writing journey. The pair had assistance from multiple teachers, their parents, as well as illustrators and professionals to take their work to the next level.

“My mom is a teacher, and she’s also an author so she definitely helped us a lot. She’s kind of like our editor and manager,” Lewis explained. “We had a lot of people along the way, helping us get through and write the book.”

“We also had our teacher Ms. Truesdell re-read it,” Ndlovu added. “We had our parents and friends a bit inspire us and a bit help us.”

This idea wasn’t just a fun story that the girls came up with. They also wanted to portray important messages for young readers. In between the entertainment of their story, a reader is also met with inspiring themes.

“I think the theme [of the story] is that you can accomplish anything because the characters go through a hard loss, but their family helps them heal through that… I feel like [the theme] is if you go through hard times, there’s always an adventure waiting for you ahead,” Ndlovu elaborated.

I think the theme [of the story] is that you can accomplish anything because the characters go through a hard loss, but their family helps them heal through that… I feel like [the theme] is if you go through hard times, there’s always an adventure waiting for you ahead”

— Nokukhanya Ndlovu

“I think that another [theme] would be, when life can get tough, make sure to always see the good side in things. You have other people on the other side waiting for you. That is definitely something the girls and their friends had learned, and what we have learned throughout the experience of writing this book,” Lewis added.

Similar to most kids their age, Lewis and Ndlovu have so much they want to accomplish throughout their childhood. What sets them apart, is their decision to take action and achieve their goals to inspire people around them.

“I definitely feel accomplished… and I definitely feel like I’ve done something to impact the world. I want to inspire young people, like myself, to keep striving for their goals and go after what they want to do and accomplish in life,” Lewis stated.

I definitely feel accomplished… and I definitely feel like I’ve done something to impact the world. I want to inspire young people, like myself, to keep striving for their goals and go after what they want to do and accomplish in life”

— Makayla Lewis

The pair didn’t stop there. Using the money made from their book signing, Lewis and Ndlovu changed directions, and worked towards creating a small business; Diamond Dance International Academy, which teaches local kids as well as kids anywhere in the world, different styles of dance.

“This summer we got the opportunity to teach in person at a daycare with little kids. It was so much fun because we got to interact with them… it was so much fun watching them,” Ndlovu said.

“We really enjoyed that experience. We are also planning to do it again this year in person… I have been dancing since I was four years old. I definitely like to teach kids the art of dance. We want people to have fun with dance and express themselves through movement,” Lewis explained.

As for individually, the girls have very bright futures ahead of them. In Makayla’s case, she has higher aspirations than just publishing a book. Even before becoming a child author, her dream was to be an actor. She is working to make that dream her reality.

“I definitely want to continue to do acting. I’m taking acting classes right now. I’m in an agency, and I really want to take a step up,” Lewis stated.

Nokukhanya is working towards similar goals. Just like Lewis, becoming a child author isn’t going to stop her from starting her next chapter. She dreams of becoming a singer as well as taking the next step as a dance instructor, and is climbing the ladder to achieve that.

“My mom has been doing research to get me singing lessons… We would love to continue our academy, and also inspiring kids through our book, but also do what we (individually) have always dreamed of,” Ndlovu summarized

Both of these girls have remarkable accomplishments for being any age, let alone eleven and twelve. They have been recognized by many for their hard work, and the duo is using this encouragement to motivate them to take their careers onward and continue to inspire along the way.

“We just know one thing: we just want to keep inspiring people to start something young, that way they can build a bigger future for themselves,” Ndlovu concluded