Encouraging Kindness: Interview with Author and Illustrator Todd Parr

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Todd Parr
Todd Parr is the New York Times bestselling author and illustrator of over fifty children’s books. Todd inspires and empowers children through his stories about kindness, inclusivity and love featuring vibrant images that utilize eye-catching primary colors.



Todd Parr is the New York Times bestselling author and illustrator of over fifty children’s books. Todd inspires and empowers children through his stories about kindness, inclusivity and love featuring vibrant images that utilize eye-catching primary colors. He has won many awards for his books, which have been published in approximately twenty languages. Todd also served as the co-creator of the popular animated TV series “ToddWorld,” which has been nominated for three Daytime Emmy awards. Moreover, several short “Sesame Street” movies have been based on Todd’s work.

Todd worked as a flight attendant before becoming a full-time author and illustrator. His first book, “The Okay Book”, was published in 1999. Todd devotes time to numerous philanthropic causes supporting pet adoption, children’s hunger, health, and literacy. He is also a fund-raiser for The Ronald McDonald House and is on the board of directors for the Virginia Children’s Book Festival.

All of Todd’s books are designed to inspire and empower children, which he recently discussed via an exclusive interview.

Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you discover your talent for writing and what was it about the children’s book genre that most interested you?

Todd Parr (TP): It was through my art! I’ve always loved to draw, ever since second grade. My current editor suggested I write children’s books after seeing some of my original art on canvas and merchandise.

MM: How did you form your colorful and unique illustration style and break into the publishing industry?

TP: I have always loved primary colors and, basically, I have always drawn like I do now. My art has just gotten more refined. It’s one of the reasons I did not pursue art after high school; I felt I would never make it drawing as I do. Then I saw Keith Haring’s work. That, along with traveling around the world working for United Airlines as a flight attendant, really gave my confidence a boost.

MM: What was your childhood like and how did it impact your creativity?

TP: It was difficult. But everyone did the best they could. I have learning disabilities that were later in life identified as ADD and Dyslexia. My mom had a prescription drug problem that developed from a back injury in a car accident. I think my childhood played a major role in my books.

MM: Growing up, what was your favorite book?

TP: “Go, Dog, Go!” P.D. Eastman’s Book of “Things That Go”!

MM: Where do you get the ideas for your books from?

TP: From growing up and also from learning about the many ways my books are used around the world to help others.

MM: You’ve published dozens of books, so have you any special favorites?

TP: I do. My favorites are “It’s Okay To Be Different” and “The Goodbye Book.”

MM: What is some of the best feedback you’ve gotten about your stories?

TP: Figure out how to make whatever you are writing about uniquely you: “If there are hundreds of children’s books about love, what makes yours different?”

MM: To date, what has been the best thing about being a children’s book author and illustrator and/or the highlight of your career?

TP: Being able to make a difference for so many other kids in the world. There are many highlights, such as launching my first four books in FAO Schwarz in New York City and San Francisco and seeing my art light up all the windows. Another was being nominated three times for a Daytime Emmy Award for my show “ToddWorld.”

MM: What other projects are you working on right now and what themes might you like to explore in future books?

TP: I’m currently working on a book that highlights LGBTQI.

MM: What are your ultimate goals for the future and is there anything else that you would like to mention?

TP: I’m going to continue to write about things that will make a difference in the world. I also love food and cooking. I would love to open up my own Taco Todd’s one day and do a cookbook.

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To learn more, visit the official website of Todd Parr.