Take 5 with Adam Rubin, author of "Dragons Love Tacos"

Amanda Collins Bernier
Baystateparent Magazine
Dragons Love Tacos

Children's book author Adam Rubin seems to strike a chord with kids. Five of his books are national bestsellers, but there is one that has really taken on a life of its own: "Dragons Love Tacos." The hilarious tale of dragons, tacos, and spicy salsa is the longest-running picture book on the New York Times bestseller list, and has spawned a stage show, a sequel, dragon plushies and many, many children’s birthday parties. 

This summer, "Dragons Loves Tacos" celebrates a decade in print. We caught up with the author about the book's enduring popularity, and why kids love dragons who love tacos. 

Author Adam Rubin

Did you always want to be a children’s book author? What drew you to writing for kids?

Actually, I never imagined I would be a children’s book author when I was young. I always liked to write and I always liked reading books that were supposedly meant for kids (even as an adult) but I never really put the two together until I was introduced to Daniel Salmieri. Our mutual friend Corey suggested we work together and since Dan already knew he wanted to illustrate picture books, I decided to give it a try. Our first collaboration was "Those Darn Squirrels" and we’ve been friends ever since.

What was the inspiration behind "Dragons Love Tacos?"

We had done a couple of books already and the response was really positive but I still had no idea that writing books was something I could do for a living. It was just a fun thing I did at night after my day job. There was really no pressure to come up with another idea. On some level, it felt like my brief adventure as a picture book writer might be over. But I kept thinking back to a little statue that my dad kept on his desk when I was a kid—a ceramic figure of a dragon eating a taco. That combination just clicked in my head. It made total sense that dragons would enjoy tacos. Heck, everyone enjoys tacos. But dragons might have an issue with spicy salsa, what with the fire breathing and all… I told Dan the idea for the title, “Dragons Love Tacos” and right away he said we should do it.

Are you surprised by the enduring popularity of the book? Why do you think it’s been such a hit?

Honestly, I’m surprised by the enduring popularity of anything these days. There are so many options and so much happening and such ease of access to millions of different types/flavors/styles of content that it seems like the average attention span is shorter than the average TikTiok video. The biggest TV show of the year is all but forgotten the next. Multi-million dollar movies flash and disappear. So not only am I surprised by the enduring popularity of our book, I’m deeply honored. I think it has something to do with the fact that it’s a physical object. It doesn’t go away when you turn off your screen. It doesn’t look weird when you update your operating system. Plus, there is still a somewhat sacred ritual around reading books to kids at bedtime. That ritual is important. It helps form memories and make connections. Plus, the repetition. Kids love repetition. They love it. Repetition, I mean. So most kids have read "Dragons Love Tacos" more times than I have. It’s burned into their memory.

As for why our book has proven more popular than so many others? That’s a tough question. I used to think it was because dragons were trendy and tacos are easy to make at home. But after thousands of letters and ten years of chatting with fans, I’ve revised my opinion. I think it’s because it makes people laugh. Not just kids but also the parents. And the teenage babysitter, and grandma too. It’s this absurdist little fable that has no ulterior motive other than to entertain. But I think the reason it’s stuck around for all these years is that under the surface, there is this comforting message that yes, the world is full of problems, and sometimes despite our best efforts, mistakes are made and the house gets burned down. But if we keep our sense of humor, and try to work together, love will win the day.

Do you have a favorite story involving a fan of your books?

When George Clooney went on Good Morning America and said he wanted to make a movie of the book. That was pretty surreal.

What’s one thing you HATE on your taco?

Used Q-tips.

Daniel Salmieri illustration
Daniel Salmieri illustration