When I Get Older book cover

When I Get Older

In his first book for children, When I Get Older, Somali-Canadian poet, rapper, singer, and songwriter K’NAAN tells his own story. Born in Somalia, he grew up in Mogadishu. His grandfather was a renowned poet who passed on his love of words to his grandson. When the Somali Civil War began in 1991, K’NAAN was just thirteen. His mother made the difficult decision to move her family so that they could grow up in safety. Like so many other immigrants, he had to make a place for himself in a world of alien customs, clothes, and language. His road was a hard one: he lost many friends to violence. But K’NAAN’s love of music, and his enormous talent, became a way for him to connect with his past, with his classmates, and eventually, to millions of people around the world.

Ideal for:
International Day of Peace Sept. 21, International Day of Music October 1, World Kindness Day November 13, Human Rights Day Dec. 10, International Migrants Day December 18, Canadian Multiculturalism Day June 27.

When I Get Older: The Story Behind 'Wavin' Flag. Text © 2012 K'NAAN Illustrations © 2012 Rudy Gutierrez. Reproduced by permission of Tundra Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers, a Penguin Random House Company, Toronto.

Book Creators


K'NAAN portrait

Winner of three Juno awards and recently named the Globe and Mail’s Artist of the Year and, now, children’s book author, K’NAAN has a moving and inspiring personal story. K’NAAN (whose name means “traveler” in Somali) spent his childhood in Mogadishu surrounded by a loving family which included his aunt, one of Somalia’s most famous singers, and his poet grandfather. When K’NAAN was thirteen, he and his family fled war-torn Somalia and immigrated to Toronto. His story is inspiring, and his struggles as a new immigrant will speak to many young North Americans.

Rudy Gutierrez

Rudy Gutierrez portrait

Rudy Gutierrez is an American artist-illustrator of Puerto Rican heritage whose art has been described as "Wall Medicine", ancient yet contemporary, urban in a sense and musical in feel and is known for creating images that combine elements of indigenous art with that of urban culture. He is a professor at Pratt Institute, New York.