Remember when you were a kid and your parents didn’t have to force you to play outside? You just went, because that was where the fun and friends were waiting! That [fantastic] feeling is captured in Valerie Bolling and Sabrena Khadija’s new picture book:

Cover of Ride, Roll, Run: Time for Fun. City street scene with buildings in background and kids on street in foreground, one riding bike, one bouncing basketball, one rolling in wheelchair, and two kids running with arms uplifted.

Valerie, everyone who reads this blog loves to hear origination stories. Where did your idea for RIDE, ROLL, RUN: TIME FOR FUN! come from?

The idea for RIDE, ROLL, RUN: TIME FOR FUN! came from a similar place as that of my previous books, LET’S DANCE! and TOGETHER WE RIDE. I notice what children enjoy doing and write about those things. Children love to move, play, and have fun. They enjoy being with other children.

The first version of the story took place on a playground, the next was set at an amusement park; and then—at the suggestion of a friend—I decided to make it about children being able to play right in their neighborhood. They can walk outside—grabbing a ball, jump rope, or chalk—and start to have fun with their friends!

I love that—immediate fun! 

Why is it important to show kids in their own neighborhood?

It’s important to show kids in their own neighborhood because that’s where play often happens and where community is built. It can be fun to travel outside of one’s neighborhood, too, but it’s not necessary to have fun. Children can enjoy themselves right outside their home.

Yes! That’s how we did it back in the day…outside until the sun went down!

scene of basketball court and SWOOSH! A player shooting a free throw, plus kids all over the court cheering, jumping, running, rolling (in a wheelchair) and having a fun time

Besides “play-is-where-you-are,” what other messages do you hope to impart with this story?

I would add “play-is-who-you’re-with,” and “play-is-whatever-your-mind-can-imagine.” I want children to understand from an early age that they can play with anyone in their wonderful community. (Be inclusive.) I also want them to know that there are no limits to what they can play. They can make up games and the rules. (Be imaginative.) Exercising our creative minds is as important as exercising our bodies when we play.

You touched on a little of why play is so important to developing minds; care to delve further? 

I’m sure a doctor could provide a much more in-depth and research-based response, but I’ll share my thoughts. When children play with others, they have to communicate, collaborate, and cooperate. This requires children to exercise their minds and use negotiation and problem-solving skills. When students use their imaginations to play games, they expand their mind muscles.  In addition, physical play develops healthy bodies, which, in turn, leads to healthy minds.

As someone who is disabled, I was interested to see you had a character in a wheelchair on the cover of your book. Is that something you had planned or was that an editorial or illustrator choice? 

It was my goal to have the children in this book represent a variety of backgrounds, but I’m not sure I explicitly mentioned creating a character in a wheelchair. I’m so glad that character is in the book though and am not sure if the credit goes to the illustrator or editor. I can tell you that when I submitted the manuscript, I included a note that said, “The illustrator should utilize her/his/their creativity, but my goal for this book is to convey a sense of community with children from diverse backgrounds,” so perhaps that provided the inspiration. In my book, LET’S DANCE!, I made a specific request that there be a child in a wheelchair because I’d been at a wedding where a young man in a wheelchair was “getting down” on the dance floor. Out of my three currently published books, two have characters who are in wheelchairs, and they are just as active and having as much fun as their peers.

Three children (one black girl in wheelchair) in front of open fire hydrant. Text reads"Splish, splash. Drenched fast. Cold spray. Hooray!"

What’s next for you, Valerie?

In 2023 readers can look forward to the sequel to RIDE, ROLL, RUN: TIME FOR FUN!, the second book in this “Fun in the City” series, which is about a musical block party, titled BING, BOP, BAM: TIME TO JAM!. In addition, 2023 will welcome TOGETHER WE SWIM (check out 2022’s TOGETHER WE RIDE, if you haven’t done so yet), and my Scholastic Acorn early reader series, RAINBOW DAYS, about a girl and her dog who love to create art. So far, I have one title to share for 2024, I SEE COLOR, which I co-authored with Kailei Pew.

Congratulations, Valerie! Thanks for sharing your newest title with us.

Blog readers, we are giving away a copy of RIDE, ROLL, RUN: TIME FOR FUN!

Leave one comment below about what you loved to play outside as a kid. (Me? Kick the can, frisbee golf and Chinese jumprope.)

A random winner will be selected at the end of the month.

Good luck!

Valerie Bolling is the author of the 2021 SCBWI Crystal Kite award-winning and CT Book Award finalist LET’S DANCE! Valerie has been an educator for almost 30 years. Immersed in the writing community, Valerie is on the faculty at Westport Writers’ Workshop and a member of SCBWI, the Authors Guild, NCTE, and ILA. She is also a 2020 WNDB Mentee and a 2022 WNDB Mentor as well as a member of Black Creators HeadQuarters, The Brown Bookshelf and Highlights Foundation’s Amplify Black Stories, and 12X12 Picture Book Challenge. In addition, Valerie is a member of three co-marketing groups—Kid Lit in Color, Soaring 20s PBs, and PB Crew 22—and three picture book critique groups. Valerie and her husband live in Connecticut. Get all her links and connect with her here: