Dream Jobs: Writing a Children’s Book About Barack Obama


Garen Thomas had been a children’s book editor for years, working on important projects about Harriet Tubman, Negro League Baseball, and the largest slave auction in United States history; when it came time to cover the topic of Barack Obama, she wanted dibs on the writing duties, too.

No surprise that the resulting book, Yes We Can: A Biography of President Barack Obama (the “President” part was added in the newest edition), became a New York Times bestseller — Thomas was working with incredibly popular source material. After the jump she tells Flavorwire how good it feels to give the next generation of kids a White House hero they can relate to.

If only we could have been so lucky

“As a child, I looked up to my parents and several of my teachers. I admired their intelligence and their commitment to helping other people. They looked beyond their own interests and had a broader, more inclusive definition of the meaning of success.

“This generation will likely view their parents and teachers as role models too, but they might also add our next president to their list. His story is not one of privilege — it is the story of someone who fell many times and could have stayed down, but who chose to rise up again and not get swept away by despair and hopelessness. He too has a broader view of success and is interested in the well being of both American citizens and citizens of the world. Although there will be hard times ahead of us, it seems as though through this election Americans, especially your generation, are taking responsibility for their futures and insisting that we do better in terms of caring for one another and investing in each other’s happiness.

“I am excited that there will be young children coming of age in the White House, perhaps setting trends, but mainly demonstrating the beauty of both diversity and dignity — traits Sasha and Malia have already displayed on the few occasions they’ve shared the spotlight with their father. As Colin Powell said, Barack Obama’s inauguration to the White House demonstrates a generational shift in terms of how America will act on the world stage. It’s time for younger voices to count and for today’s youth to have a say in how the world they are inheriting is managed.

“Lastly, I barely have the words to express how moved I am that there will be a family of color representing this nation. I hardly believed it possible, not even on November 3, 2008. Our country has had a long, tumultuous history in terms of recognizing its ills and its role in creating divisions among its different ethnic groups. (Of course, it is not alone in doing so — many countries can’t seem to get past their cultural differences long enough to embrace them.) But Obama continues to remind us that America is the place that made his victory possible — that the framework is here for dreams to become reality. That’s how our nation was conceived and his story is proof that, in the grand scheme of things, the American experiment is working.”