By Heather Pape
La Habra Journal
After stockpiling ideas for children’s books for years, retired pastor and professor Ron Kernaghan finally decided to publish his first children’s book, “The Town Without Underwear.”
As a resident of La Habra since 1992, Kernaghan has been invested in the community since his kids were in junior high. For his first five years here, he was a pastor at La Habra Hills Presbyterian Church. After that, he taught at Fuller Theological Seminary until his retirement last September. Kernaghan wanted to use his newfound free time to pursue the things he has always had a passion for—woodworking and children’s literature.
“I’ve always enjoyed writing,” said Kernaghan. “I had been thinking about retirement for a couple years, and I wanted to do some things in retirement that had always been on my mind. One of [those things] was writing.”
“The Town Without Underwear” is the story of young Carl who takes a trip to the beach with his grandma and his dog, Gavin. After a fun day rolling around in the sand, Carl and his grandma try to get rid of the uncomfortable sand and they find themselves in some weird circumstances on the road trip home. It is a tale recommended for 5-9 year olds and it is full of life lessons, funny situations and light-hearted humor.
“I know that not everything that happens for children is enjoyable, but even for those kids who suffer hard things, I want to remind them that there is such a thing as happiness and joy, and that is part of my commitment to children’s literature,” Kernaghan said.
The story was inspired by a real-life scenario that Kernaghan went through with his own children when they were younger. One day, they all went to the beach with their grandmother and got sand in places where it did not belong, but could not find anywhere that sold underwear on the way home. Kernaghan felt like this was a great story to tell that would also help his children remember their grandma fondly. He had held onto this story all these years, and now he finally had the time to see his story come to fruition.
Not only did Kernaghan decide to do something new with his life, he also decided to have it presented in a new way. As of now, the book is only available digitally on Amazon, and there’s a reason for that. Kernaghan chose to do that because he wants to revamp the way children’s books are read. He envisions a day when teachers will not have to read and then turn the book for all the kids to see the pictures. Instead, he dreams of a time when books can be shown on a large screen so all the children can see the illustrations at the same time and read along with their teachers.
“If I’ve got a copy on my computer, then I can connect that to a large screen TV,” said Kernaghan. “So if I’ve got a group of five or six kids that I’m reading to, we can all sit around family style and everybody can see the pictures—and I think even more importantly they can see the words. The reading aloud experience reinforces what they are learning about reading on their own.”
While the book has not yet gained widespread popularity, Kernaghan plans on “The Town Without Underwear” being the first book in a three-part series. Now that Kernaghan is retired, he has time to write and publish all the story ideas he has been cooking over the years, and that is something he is very excited about.
“I want there to be an element of joy in what I do, in children’s literature in particular,” he said.