A children’s book that ‘teaches kids about the world’

When the U.S. financial industry imploded in 2008, Robin Barone was caught in the middle of it. But rather than rushing to find a new job, she decided to take her “New York City banker buyout,” as she calls it, and travel the world for a year. One year turned into nearly two as she traipsed through Southeast Asia, India, China, and Europe, blogging about her experiences and checking off countries from her bucket list.

Along the way, Barone searched for something to bring back as presents for her young cousins. She wanted something fun and educational, something that would help open their eyes to the wider world and the people in it.

Where’s Waldo? has these beautiful pictures, but there’s no content,” Barone says. “There’s no meat. And it’s like, ‘What was the point of that?’”

Her cousins have access to good education, phones, horses—“everything you could think of,” she says. “And yet, they don’t have any awareness of the world outside of them.”

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When she came up empty-handed, she realized she would have to make it herself.

Fast forward to 2016 and Diplomat Books, the project Barone has been working on over the past six years, is up and running and about to launch its first children’s book: Where Is Robin? USA.

The mission of Diplomat Books is at once large and small, global and local.

“We’re a platform that teaches kids about the world, and our medium is through adventure travel books,” the WeWork Park South member says. “My whole theory is that by introducing kids at an earlier age to different cultures, people, and places, and trying to find commonality, it will lead to greater respect and compassion in them as people. And that relates…to not just how we view the political situation in the Middle East, but it comes down to how do you treat your neighbor?”

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Where Is Robin? is a riot of color and activity (Barone feels that “learning should be colorful, creative, and fun”), with illustrations by Robyn Mitchell. It tells the story of a young bird who takes off from home in order to see the U.S. from all of its many angles.

“In the first book, I have history covered, culture, dates, and facts,” Barone says. “My whole theory is that certain things will resonate with different kids—like the outdoorsy part, the urban part, culture—and whatever it may be, let them come gravitate toward that naturally and explore their curiosity on their own.”

To this end, Barone is creating a teacher tool that will act in tandem with the book, adding value to the learning process. She’s also working on the answer to the question several of her friends’ kids have asked: where’s Robin going next? Six new books are in the works focusing on major American cities. After that? Robin takes on Europe.

Photos: Katelyn Perry

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