LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - She may just be in high school but a Louisville 17-year-old is wise beyond her years. The Atherton High School junior wrote a book that has already won an award, but it's the message the book contains that is winning hearts.
"All she wanted to do is to talk to them and be friends with them," Shukri Aden reads from her story, Basket of Friendship.
Friendship and loneliness, fitting in and standing out are themes to which every child can in some way relate. Her story is different.
"Anyone can write a storybook but not the same as this one," she said. "Even though they never talk to her, they just judge her because of the way she looks," Aden explains about her character.
Her assignment from her Future Educators Association club was to write a children's story for a competition.
"In this story there are three girls, one Maasai and the others are Kenyan," Aden explained.
In some ways what she wrote is the story of her life.
"I knew it was coming from her background when she was writing that," said one of the sponsors of the FEA club, Tammi Yowell.
Born in a village in Kenya, Aden said she coexisted with the Maasai people, famous for their reputation as warriors.
"We see them and we run away from them because we're scared of them but they never did something bad, we're just afraid of them," she remembered.
At age nine, when she left the refugee camp she and her family had called home, she realized the lessons of her childhood were not all they seemed.
She said her opinions changed, "When I came to America because I see all of people and like Caucasians, African Americans - It's actually the adults who tell the young kids to do this and that: stereotype and racism."
So her story is really just the life lesson she learned, maybe earlier than most. That lesson: despite our differences, in our hearts, we are all the same.
"Nala, Gamma and Amelia laughed and they realized they were just innocent girls," Aden read from the book. "They didn't believe the stories anymore."
Aden's story of acceptance got her the approval of the of the judges at the FEA competition in Louisville this fall. She won first prize.
Her teachers see something blooming that wasn't there before.
"When I had her in class, she was so shy, timid, only participated in lesson activities," said FEA sponsor Willie Rhodes.
Now Aden is thinking "happily ever after" for herself and her story.
She read the ending of the book, "'Let's climb a tree,' Amelia said. 'Great,' said Gamma. 'I know one that has big juicy mangos.' THE END.'"
Aden will go to the national competition with her book in April.
She said after she graduates in two years, she wants to go to University of Louisville, where she hopes to study to become an English as a Second Language teacher.