Not many 12-year-olds can boast about being a published book co-writer. But that’s precisely what Baylei Hinds-Perry is. Baylei is the co-author of “Faith’s Freckles,” a story about a freckle-faced girl who learns the importance of self-love with the help of a friend. Her co-writer is her aunt, Shermaine Perry-Knight, a published author.
Much more than that, however, the seventh grader at Cedar Grove Middle School hopes that young people can be inspired by her stories to celebrate themselves for the differently beautiful, fascinating individuals they are every day.
The book’s dedication proudly boasts that “(t)his book is dedicated to every Black and Brown girl in the world. Every freckle, mole, beauty mark, dark spot, and blemish on your body is where it is supposed to be. Every one of those are extra special. You are beautiful.”
These inspirational words come naturally to Baylei. Starting in the 2nd grade, she developed a passion for writing through her studies in her school’s reading and language arts classes. That enthusiasm led her to this point in her young career.
“I loved drawing and writing stories, so I just started doing that, and I realized that [writing] is what I really wanted to do,” she said.
The first story she wrote was about a cat wanting to be a dog because it thought dogs were superior.
“Later in the story, the cat realized he was ok with being a cat. That’s what “Faith’s Freckles” is about,” Baylei said. “I know some people struggle with accepting that they have freckles or beauty marks on their face, and I just wanted to write a book to make them feel better about themselves.”
Baylei and her aunt started writing “Faith’s Freckles” two years ago, and the process was immensely creative and fun. From picking the illustrators and editors of the book, it’s been a thoroughly rewarding experience.
“She inspired me to write the book,” Baylei said. “All the books she has written have sold really well, and I decided I wanted to publish my own book.”
To date, the book has sold more than 250 copies. Seeing so many people supporting her and buying her book has been exciting for Baylei.
“Every time I go to events, I say, ‘I wrote this book; that’s my book.’ It makes me feel like I have accomplished a lot,” she said.
Her success has certainly not gone unnoticed.
Cedar Grove Middle School Principal Dr. Marcia Coston-Scott said she is proud of Baylei for following her dreams and accomplishing her goals.
“When I found out we have a published author here, I was excited because what’s important is that we celebrate our scholars that are doing well,” Dr. Coston-Scott said. “She’s an example for others. I feel honored as her principal.”
Not one to rest on her laurels, Baylei is already working on her next book. One that is taking her on a very personal journey because it’s about her life. She plans to continue writing children’s books in the future, but in the meantime, she is hopeful that her stories will inspire other students to follow their dreams.
“It really has to be a passion of yours, something you believe in,” Baylei said. “Once you know that this is something you want to do, it’s amazing when it’s done and you’ve accomplished your goals.”
“Faith’s Freckles” is available for purchase on Amazon.com.