Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton just released a picture book with an inspiring message about how everyone—including children—can come together to make the world a better place. In exclusive interview with Parents.com, Clinton, a grandmother of two, gives us insight into the making and meaning of It Takes A Village, and reveals what children’s literature has shaped her.
Parents.com: What inspired you to create a children’s book in the spirit of It Takes A Village?
Clinton: I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the original version of It Takes a Village, which I wrote more than 20 years ago. It was about the idea that none of us can raise a family, build a business, heal a community, lift a country, or really do anything in life worth doing by ourselves. We have to do it together. I believe more fiercely than ever in that message today, and I wanted to share it not only with my own grandchildren, but with little readers everywhere. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and of all the books I’ve written, this one is especially close to my heart.
Parents.com:Can you tell us a bit about the process, particularly how you worked with Marla Frazee?
Clinton: I was fortunate to have a wonderful partner in Marla Frazee, who did the stunning illustrations. Because this book is an adaptation of the grown-up version of It Takes A Village, and because it reflects some of the beliefs that are most important to me in the world, I knew what I wanted to say. But the first time I saw Marla Frazee’s beautiful illustrations, I was overwhelmed. Suddenly, the words came to life. Marla is phenomenal.
Parents.com:What message do you hope children take away from reading this book with their parents or grandparents?
Clinton: This book is about looking out for one another, and working together to solve problems. I hope this book will help children—and adults!—understand that they are a part of a diverse community.
Parents.com: During your time as Secretary of State, can you recall a few first-hand examples of children making the world a better place?
Clinton: I still think about the children I met all over the world who risked so much to stand up for their right to go to school, speak out against things like child marriage, and reach across longstanding divides to build compassion and understanding. One of those inspiring young people was Malala, the young Pakistani woman shot in the head by Taliban fighters for trying to get an education. I’m thrilled to say she’s now a college student.
Parents.com:Have you read the book to your granddaughter Charlotte? If so, what was her reaction?
Clinton: Yes, and I’m happy to say it got rave reviews!
Parents.com:How do you envision that elementary school teachers might be able to use this book in the classroom?
Clinton: I love to imagine elementary school teachers using this book as a jumping off point to talk about service, then leading students in a project that will help others in their community.
Parents.com: What was your favorite book growing up? What was Chelsea’s?
Clinton: I can’t pick just one favorite! I have very vivid memories of my first grade teacher, Miss Taylor, reading us Winnie the Pooh, which I loved. Once I got a little older, I was always reading something—from Nancy Drew to Little Women to James Michener. When Chelsea was little, she couldn’t get enough of Curious George, Goodnight Moon, and The Runaway Bunny. Now, Bill and I get such a kick out of watching Chelsea and her husband Marc read some of those same books to Charlotte and Aidan.
Karen Cicero is a senior editor at Parents magazine.