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  • What about Bob?

    This website features the work of Bob McKinnon. He is a writer, designer, podcast host, children’s author and teacher. What unites all of his work is the desire to help others move up in life – just as others have helped him.

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  • America's Dreaming

     

    The cover has just been revealed for Bob’s next children’s book!  America’s Dreaming tells the story of a child whose simple dream is to feel welcomed and seen.

    Now Available for Preorder
  • Three Little Engines

    New York Times’ best seller Three Little Engines, a  modern retelling of the beloved classic Little Engine that Could, is now available in Spanish!

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  • NPR Special Program

    On the 50th anniversary of The Piano Man, Bob interviewed Billy Joel to discuss his contributions to our ideas of struggle and success in America.

    The Piano Man at 50
  • New Series

    Check out Moving Up in Communities, our new  series sharing stories of innovation and advancement in communities across the country. This series is supported by the journalism nonprofit Economic Hardship Reporting Project

    Fast Company Moving Up in Communiities
Three Little Engines

From Bob McKinnon comes this modern retelling of the beloved classic, Little Engine that Could, that asks young readers, “How does your journey differ from others?” It also serves as a thank you letter to all the parents, teachers, role models, and even strangers, who help to clear the storm or pull the tree trunk from their track.

Available in your favorite bookstores.

How did you end up here?

Have you ever asked yourself this question?  Or wondered why your life turned differently than you expected or from others you know.  On this site, you’ll find tools, writing and podcast episodes that explores this question and others.  Watch Bob’s TEDx talk to learn about his journey and the science behind how we see our lives and those of others.

Children’s Books

I think I can, I think I can, I think I… can’t?  What’s an Engine to do when even believing in yourself won’t get you to the top of the mountain? In this modern retelling of the beloved The Little Engine That Could, The Little Blue Engine and her friends attempt to reach the town on the other side of the mountain, but they quickly realize that not every engine is on the same track, and they all face different obstacles in their journey. In Three Little Engines author Bob McKinnon asks young readers: How does your journey differ from others?

While paying homage to the beloved classic, author Bob McKinnon acknowledges that although positive thinking and confidence are important, they are not always enough to help you succeed. In many instances, success requires a helping hand. This book is a gentle introduction to the idea of socioeconomic mobility and inequality in America. Heavily inspired by his own experiences, McKinnon teaches the youngest of readers how to recognize opportunity and inequality in the American Dream, and, most importantly, how to extend a helping hand to those on different tracks of life. At its heart, Three Little Engines is a thank you letter to all the parents, teachers, role models, and even strangers, who help to clear the storm or pull the tree trunk from your track.

Three Little Engines is now a New York Times best seller!  Order your copy today from your favorite online bookseller or your local bookstore:

 

What is Your American Dream Score

What is Your American Dream Score?

Spend five minutes taking this quiz, and you’ll find out what factors were working in your favor and what you had to overcome to get where you are today. At the end, you’ll receive an overall score and a personalized summary of the results (and probably a big dose of pride and gratitude).

Newsletter

Reveal

A few weeks ago, we revealed the cover for my next children’s book, America’s Dreaming, which will come out on June 4th. The story is about our universal dream to feel seen and welcomed. As revealed in the author’s note at the end, it is based on my own difficult move in the middle of a school year from Boston to Pennsylvania.

The cover reveal was assisted by John Schu, who is a well-known librarian and best-selling author. John was kind enough to share my book with his followers, even as he was about to publish his own book, Louder than Hunger.  In that moving and important book, he reveals a story based on his own life and experience with anorexia.

Like many words, reveal has many meanings. In this instance, two definitions – “to make something, hidden or previously secret, publicly or generally known” and “to open to view” – apply.

When we reveal something we do so in the hopes that others will find it of value. The act of revealing or sharing something hidden about yourself can be wrought and painful. There is a reason it has been hidden.  I suppose this is why we often mask our revelations behind fictional characters – regardless of the age of its intended audience.

When we reveal something about ourselves, it also provides the opportunity for others to follow suit, to see themselves in the story of another and as a result feel more free to reveal their own experiences.

Take this example from a recent episode of American Idol. A performer opts to choose the song “How Could You”  – that she says “was like I had written it myself” – to reveal her own experience in an abusive relationship. The performance is courageous and gut-wrenching. I wept as I watched it with my family, trying to shield myself from the thoughts of my daughters ever experiencing something similar. Her act of bravery undoubtedly moved millions who watched it, as evidenced by the many tears of those in the live audience. Her reveal and desire to share something hidden was a profound act of generosity.

To reveal something is to embrace a certain degree of our own innate vulnerability. It is a risk to put anything out into the world, let alone something so personal and painful. The fear of rejection is steeped in our own shame, embarrassment, and confusion. Yet the reward of doing so is undeniable. It is both cathartic and freeing for ourselves and hopefully connects us with others who share our experiences,

America’s Dreaming opens with the question: “Have you ever felt alone in a crowd?”  The hope of this book and other acts of revelation is that we feel less alone.

Of course not all reveals need to be public. They can be the simple, yet equally difficult act, of revealing something of ourselves in private to a loved one. This act of courage brings us closer to those we most care about.

In ways big or small, thank you to all the brave souls who chose to reveal a part of themselves that helps the rest of us feel seen.


See all posts from Moving Up Mondays blog

Monday Morning Notes

Delivered to your mailbox each Monday morning, these short notes offer an opportunity each week to reflect on who and what contributes to where we end up in life. Readers tell us it’s a great way to start their week on a positive note. See the latest note below:

Reveal

A few weeks ago, we revealed the cover for my next children’s book, America’s Dreaming, which will come out on June 4th. The story is about our universal dream to feel seen and welcomed. As revealed in the author’s note at the end, it is based on my own difficult move in the middle of …

Continue reading

Attribution with Bob McKinnon

Attribution is a podcast, where people from all walks of life, reflect on who and what has contributed to where they ended up. Our hope is after each episode, you feel a little more inspired, grateful, or supported, then when you first hit play. Check out the latest episode below:

Episode 28: Family w/ Brittany Means

Brittany Means is author of the critically acclaimed memoir, “Hell if We Don’t Change Our Ways”. Reviews have called it “gut-wrenching and triumphant.” “Readable and rigorous.”  “Brutal and beautiful.’  At its heart, it is a book about family. as Means recounts her complex relationships with her mother, father, brother, and grandparents and eventual guardians. What does it mean when those closest to us hurt us? Is understanding or forgiveness even possible?  How do children make it through it all to find support and love?  This was a particularly moving discussion.  I hope you find it of value. 

Links to learn more about: 

Brittany Means

Hell if We Don’t Change Our Ways