As the mom of a son of Caucasian and Hispanic ancestry, I am always looking for books that feature diversity. It is so important to me that I read children’s books to him that he can relate to and identify with.
If you go
April 20, 7 p.m.
Anderson’s Bookshop Naperville
123 W. Jefferson Ave.
Credit: Joseph Kuefler
Recently I stumbled upon “Rulers of the Playground” and I fell in love with the book because of its diversity, powerful messages and vivid illustrations. I interviewed “Rulers of the Playground” author and illustrator, Joseph Kuefler, to get his take on why this book is important for kids.
What is “Rulers of the Playground” about?
“Rulers of the Playground” is about two kids who decide they want to take over the playground and claim it as their own. Obviously when this happens it confirms or discusses teams of collaboration, coexistence, friendship, and how one can wrestle with his or her own ambitions while also being a good citizen. It’s tackling scenes of power, playground politics, and it’s a way for kids to begin thinking about who leads them, and how good of a person they are. It’s ultimately a fun story about the ridiculous things that happen on the playground. If you have kids of your own, or you ever visited a school playground, you know that all of life’s great dramas unfold on the playground deception, struggles and fun.
What age is your book best suited for?
It would be in that four to seven age range.
What are three messages kids can learn from your book?
– To never just follow blindly Always question who’s in charge of you.
– Remember that collaboration is always better than taking control of something. When we all enjoy life we’re better for it.
– Be aware of yourself in any situation and try your best to make sure you’re never putting your own interest in front of the interest of everyone else.
Why do adults and kids both love the book?
I’m a parent myself and I try to write books my kids love and are funny and approachable. But, I also try to write stories that have a subtext or an additional layer. I hope that people see that I write books that are fun and approachable, and imaginative for children. But also have enough substance to them that allow the parent to pull a theme or moral out of them. I try my best to write what I think are classic tales; things that might live on ten years from now and never really attached to things happening today.
I noticed your book is multi-diverse, why did you decide to go that route?
There is quite a bit of diversity inside of the characters. I tried to make sure there was a character whose Caucasian, African-American, Asian, Hispanic or Latino. It’s really just because if you look at the playground in this country and most modern cities that’s what they look like. I tried my best to represent the world as it was.
Joseph Kuefler will be holding a book signing on April 20 at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville. If you buy his new book from Anderson’s Bookshop you can get it signed for no additional charge.