While studying her Juris Doctor postgraduate law degree, Bond University student Anita Kissi has also found the time to publish her first children’s book, Little Hope, Big Hope.
Through the colourful illustrated paperback, which hit shelves recently, Anita aims to instil hope in young people of all ages and stages, encouraging them to ‘dream big’.
The Canadian from Toronto says she has always been passionate about inspiring children not only through her writing, but as a musician, speaker and budding lawyer.
“Little Hope, Big Hope is the book I wish I had when I was a little girl,” says Anita, who has spent the past two years studying law at Bond, while also acting as a university student ambassador and a Commonwealth Student Ambassador for the Mayor of the Gold Coast.
“With my book, I wanted to give children and their parents a tool to have hope in their lives and learn it is possible to dream big and have a positive outlook towards life from a young age.
“When kids have a positive outlook from childhood, it carries on into their adult life.”
Even though Little Hope, Big Hope is aimed at readers up to six years old, the book tackles some big issues like multiculturalism, diversity and equity. It tells the story of a group of young boys and girls from different cultures living in an orphanage who are visited by the book’s mascot, a ‘fairy kangaroo’, who takes them on a journey of self-discovery – a character inspired by Anita’s time living in Australia and on the Gold Coast.
“With my legal studies, I’m really interested in family law and mediation, corporate law, and international human rights law, so a lot of those topics are covered in my book – but in a way that is light and still appeals to very young children,” says Anita.
“I’ve always hoped to establish a career fusing children’s law with advocacy and human rights, so my book is really a result of that.”
Anita says writing runs in her family and she always knew she would write a book.
On the inside cover of Little Hope, Big Hope, she dedicates the book to the memory of her grandfather, who she remembers fondly as an educator and published author in Ghana.
“I always wanted to become an author – I just didn’t know how I was going to do it, but writing is definitely in my genes” she says.
“My grandfather was notable in Ghana for introducing a popular children's grammar book at a time when the nation had gained independence from colonial rule and the education system needed bilingual English and Twi language grammar text books for children.
“His textbook was required reading for young Ghanaian students, and many of my mates’ parents of Ghanaian heritage in Canada tell me they studied his books as it was part of school curriculum.
“I remember when I was in Canada and would sit down with my grandfather – he would have so many thoughts running through his mind.
“He would always ponder life and nature. As a kid, I used to love sitting with him and hearing about how he sees and processes life, and how he loves writing.”
Anita has plans to take Little Hope, Big Hope to the world next year, with book tours planned in Canada, England and her parents’ home country, Ghana.
If she were to dream big herself, Anita says her aim is for Little Hope, Big Hope to enable her to give back to disenfranchised children.
Anita’s passion and service within marginalised communities and schools have been recognised with notable Canadian awards such as the Doris Ferguson Award for leadership in the areas of social responsibility, anti-racism, equity, multiculturalism and peace initiatives in elementary schools.
Anita was also the recipient of a Good Citizenship Award and Celebrating Youth Excellence Award and has spoken at several international events, including a United Nations Development Programme meeting in Thailand.
“In a lot of ways, my desire to promote hope amongst children is inspired by what I see on the news in places like Syria and Uganda,” says Anita.
“Children are in such compromised situations and exposed to such negativity in some parts of the world and I think it is important to bring them hope and positivity in all its forms.
“Eventually I want Little Hope, Big Hope to become more than just a book – I want it to be a non-profit organisation that allows me to bring hope to children in Africa, Asia and also indigenous communities in Australia.
“If we can inspire our little people to hope and dream, they will grow up with a sense of belonging and become significant contributors in our societies.”
Little Hope, Big Hope is available via Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Anita is offering a locals’ discount for Gold Coast families who contact her directly via Facebook or Instagram at @littlehopebighope.