Children’s Author John Rocco: Committed to Telling Stories | Publishing Perspectives.
“Making books that fit everybody ends up making books that don’t fit anybody.”
Having spent time both within and outside of the publishing industry, Rocco has very strong opinions of what matters to him, and where publishers are going wrong. “Publishers today are averse to risk — half the books we loved in our childhood wouldn’t be published today. In The Night Kitchen [by Maurice Sendak] wouldn’t be published today. Much of Dr. Seuss wouldn’t be published today.” And even when you have an idea that the publisher likes, Rocco notes, there are still problems. “Say you were going to do a book about four young boys and the trouble they get into. The publisher is likely to ask, ‘Can you make one of them a girl? Can you make one of them black?’ But that’s not what this book is supposed to be about! Making books that fit everybody ends up making books that don’t fit anybody.”
What matters, Rocco insists, regardless of whether you’re an author or an illustrator, is creating a connection between parent and child — one that can only exist, he feels, with a physical book. He speaks from personal experience. His daughter goes to a school with a no-media policy. She’s six, has never watched TV, and Rocco and his wife read her three books a day — an estimated 7000 books total. And she loves it.