Sunday, May 10, 2020

Q&A with Katie Burke

Katie Burke is the author of the new book Urban Playground: What Kids Say About Living in San Francisco. She writes a monthly column for the Noe Valley Voice, called Noe Kids. Also a family law attorney, she is based in San Francisco.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for this book, and how long did it take you to work on it?

A: I had been writing since 2004 about living in San Francisco, and for a few years for and about kids, when my now-publisher, Brooke Warner of SparkPress, suggested in 2018 that I write about kids growing up in cities.

In September 2018, I started interviewing kids in cities across the U.S. about living in their respective cities. In February 2019, after I had interviewed over 60 kids in various cities, Brooke suggested we switch the focus to San Francisco kids.

I spent the next five months interviewing San Francisco kids and writing up their profiles, then finished writing all the profiles in early September 2019. So it was about a year overall, but a handful of months, before revisions, on the actual San Francisco book.

Q: How did you find the kids who participated in the project?

A: I started with my friends who have kids, who posted on parenting social media pages for me and introduced me to their friends with kids.

Q: The book focuses on San Francisco--do you think it's applicable to other places as well?

A: Absolutely. One of my favorite observations about the kids I interviewed, which I didn't realize until I wrote up their interviews, was how many of them love the park near their house and ice cream. Most kids can relate to that, wherever they live.

And one of the aspects of the book that touches me most is seeing how curious kids are about each other when they read the stories.

Q: Who do you see as the audience for the book, and what do you hope people take away from it?

A: The audience is kids between 5 and 12 living anywhere. I hope these kids read the book with the significant adults in their lives, learning about each other as they answer the discussion questions following each profile, and learning about the kids featured in the book, who are great.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I am interviewing kids between ages 5 to 12 living anywhere, on their experiences with COVID-19 and sheltering in place.

I'm asking them whom and what they miss from the world, what makes them happy these days, and what questions they have about the virus. This will become either a column or my second book.

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: Readers can find out more about Urban Playground at

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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