Barron and Kim Ressler, founders of Wigu Publishing, inspire children to reach for the stars.
By Alli Tong
When we were kids, our parents all asked us the same question: What do you want to be when you grow up? We would often say, “A veterinarian!” “A firefighter!” or “A teacher!” But did we really know what those career paths truly meant? Two Laguna Beach parents, Barron and Kim Ressler, who have four children of their own, strive to help youngsters ages 6 to 12 connect their interests to their futures and overcome their fears with a new book series called “When I Grow Up I Want to Be …,” which introduces them to various vocations and challenges in life. Since founding the company, Wigu Publishing—short for When I Grow Up—the husband-and-wife duo has published four books, with several more expected to debut later this year.
Here, Barron and Kim share how they’re inspiring the leaders of tomorrow.
Laguna Beach Magazine: What inspired you to start “When I Grow Up I Want to Be …” book series for children?
Barron Ressler: I’ve always wanted to have something that was my own. … The fact that we had four children, and we were doing something good for the kids, [is why we started this venture.]
Kim Ressler: [We started it because we want to be] able to inspire them to dream and think a little more about what they want to be and [give] them something fun to read that gives them a fun story with a lot of information.
BR: There are so many different careers out there that they don’t even know what it [takes] … for them to be a nurse or a dentist. So, maybe, this is going to give them a little more “Wow, I can probably do that, too.” These are all people in our community who we consider heroes, so [we want to] let kids know that, hey, that’s in their reach, too.
KR: It’s a great learning tool of teaching a child—regardless of who they are—about diversity, fears, anxiety, et cetera, and trying to overcome them.
LBM: Why do you think it’s important to start this conversation early on?
KR: I think when they’re younger, they’re sweet, innocent and they have so much out there available to them. … You can change how they feel. We want children to dream about what they can become.
LBM: How do you come up with the storylines for the books?
BR: They’re not based on any one person, but they’re all based on the actuality of the situation. [For instance,] when we go and start our firefighter book, we interview a lot people in the firefighting industry [to help children understand what these careers are truly like.]
LBM: Where can parents or teachers find the books locally?
KR: Right now, Amazon, barnesandnoble.com and Laguna Beach Books [have] them. At this point, for us to deliver the books, we’re going to be green about it. … We don’t print 500 books at a time. … We’re [also] working on an accelerated reading program to be able to get the books in schools.
BR: Our goal is to be in all the elementary schools and public school libraries.
LBM: What advice would you give to parents who want to push their kids in a certain direction or career path?
KR: What is more important: Do you want your child to be successful or happy? Realistically, for me, for my child, it’s to be happy and productive. I don’t care if he’s making a million dollars, if they’re happy they’re going to be successful. … There are so many careers out there that we don’t know about. … Just inspiring your kids to explore all the opportunities, even if it’s something different than what the parents want, it’s OK.