Behind the Scenes with Kobi Yamada and His Mom

Apr 20, 2021
Kimberly

Mother’s Day is just around the corner! It’s the perfect time to celebrate moms everywhere for their love, for their support, for their wisdom—for all that they do. Our new book, Because of You, Mom, was written by New York Times best-selling author Kobi Yamada and was largely inspired by his relationship with own mother. We chatted with Kobi and his mom to ask about their heartwarming bond as mother and son.

Kobi, what inspired you to write this book?

If anyone deserves a book to honor them, it’s mothers! Following the success of Because I Had a Teacher, I welcomed the chance to work with illustrator Natalie Russell again to create a book to appreciate and celebrate mothers everywhere.

Ms. Yamada, do you have a favorite part of the book or something that resonates with you most?

We all know that life can have its trials and tough moments, but I love how Kobi finds strength and inspiration in highlighting these moments. One of my favorite parts in the book is where the little bear goes out into the world to explore and travel, but thankfully home always calls him back with stories to tell.

What is your favorite attribute or personality trait about each other?

Kobi: I love my mom’s independence. She grew up on a rural ranch in South Dakota and left on her own to find a bigger world at 17. And while she made a life for herself across the country, she never lost her ties to her family or the people she grew up with on the ranch. I’ve always respected that about her.

Ms. Yamada: I love how Kobi engages and is genuinely interested when meeting a new person. He listens closely and gets involved with them.

Do you have any special family traditions you would like to share with us? Or do you have any special Mother’s Day memories together?

Kobi: I think our family traditions always seem to involve food. At least that is the way I remember them. And it still is one of my favorite things to get together with my extended family for a celebratory dinner.

Ms. Yamada: Kobi makes me feel very special all through the year with small gifts, phone calls, and texts. He does spontaneous, spur-of-the-moment things for me. If I mention something, he does his best to take care of it, so Mother’s Day is always special.

Kobi, what’s one of your favorite memories of your mom?

One of my favorite memories of my mom is spending the summers on the ranch where she grew up in South Dakota. We would all pile in the car and make the long drive from Washington each year. My fondest memories are not of something big or special, but rather the simple things like doing chores, making meals, and seeing the world through her eyes. I think I was very fortunate to get to experience life on a ranch for a few weeks each summer.

Ms. Yamada, what’s one of your favorite memories of Kobi?

Kobi is the youngest of four boys so he was always being challenged to keep up. His toughness showed in many different ways, especially while competing in sports with his older brothers. But even more memorable was his tenderness. Kobi was a sweet, loving child, and he was especially fond of our little dog, who slept on his pillow with him each night. He even got bit on the face one night because the dog had a nightmare, and yet, that didn’t dissuade him at all from their night routine.

Kobi, what is one life lesson your mom taught you?

I think one of the lessons my mom taught me was that if you want something in life, you need to rely on yourself to get it. My mom wasn’t much of an enabler and I really respect that about her. It allowed me to develop many life skills like independence and self-starting that have served me well.

And Ms. Yamada, what’s something Kobi has taught you?

Kobi tells me that life is an adventure. He encourages me to get outside my comfort zone and to see more of the world. He has taken me on several cruises and trips to places I might not have ever seen without him.

Kobi, what inspires you about your mom?

There are many things that inspire me about my mom. But what inspires me most is that she stands up for what she believes in. My parents were a mixed-race couple at a time when that was severely frowned upon. They faced a lot of prejudice from their community and their own families. And yet my mom kept both sides of the families together. She shielded us from the undercurrents of racism and created an environment of inclusion and love for me and my brothers. I think that’s pretty inspiring.

Ms. Yamada, what inspires you about Kobi?

His love of life, his love for people and animals. I so admire the father that he is to his children and the brother he is to his three brothers.

--

Celebrate the special moments between you and your mother with Because of You, Mom, available here.