I recently attended a Family Day at the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco with my 7 and 3-year old sons. I was prepared for the “My legs are broken and I can’t walk anymore” or the “This is soooo boring” comments, but I was determined to go even if we stayed for only 15 minutes.
Much to my surprise, the boys lasted 3 hours and had a blast. Our favorite activity was the book reading by our favorite children’s author, Todd Parr. Todd is known in our house for his Underwear Do’s and Don’ts book. We read it at least once a day. Todd had my boys mesmorized for a solid hour as he read from his new book, The I’m Not Scared Book and his New York Times bestseller, The Earth Book. Hearing the giggles and cheering from the kids reaffirmed to me that Todd truly has a gift: he knows how to reach kids and deliver positive, powerful messages to them. The boys even went home and froze a pair of underwear (Tip #10 from his The Earth Book) after stopping to say hi to a worm (Tip #4).
When I talked to Todd and asked about his inspiration and keys to success with children, he modestly said his secret is “Bright colors, engaging the kids, and having fun.” He went on to say that he really wants to “Empower kids to feel good about themselves while learning about differences.” He talked about how in high school, art was a passion of his, but he failed art class and the result was that he lacked the self-confidence to pursue his dream. In his books, he teaches kids to always believe in themselves and love themselves for who they are.
Todd is active with this message and finds ways to be involved beyond his books. He partnered with Hilton Hotels and the US Olympic Committee to write his book, Be Hospitable, which included messages of teamwork, graciousness, and multiculturalism. Part of the proceeds from the book went to the US Paralympic Team. He also teamed up with Stouffer’s to write Let’s Fix Dinner, a book about ways dinner can bring families closer. Stouffer’s donated a portion of proceeds from the book to Habitat for Humanity. He works with Target, Reach Out and Read, People Magazine, and several other organizations to promote reading. ToddWorld, his preschool television show, was nominated for an Emmy and he is currently working on two more short films for Sesame Street that will air this fall.
Todd said if he could pass on one empowering message to all kids, it would be:
IT’S OKAY TO BE DIFFERENT. YOU ARE SPECIAL AND IMPORTANT JUST BECAUSE OF BEING WHO YOU ARE. THE END, LOVE TODD.
My children love all of Todd Parr’s books, and I appreciate what a great role model he is for kids. What are some of your children’s favorite authors and books?