The World Needs Who You Were Made to Be by Joanna Gaines, illustrated by Julianna Swaney

The World Needs Who You Were Made to Be
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An inspiring statement from Joanna Gaines summarizes the “unity in diversity” gist of this wonderfully illustrated book: “May you always look at life with your eyes wide open. Be quick to learn from others and see and celebrate the differences in all of humanity.” It depicts a scene when a diverse group of children ran to a hilltop to build hot-air balloons of all colors. Each child brings his or her unique gift, be it spontaneous creativity, down-to-earth experimenting, extravagant decorating, resourceful inventing, or serious research. Everyone leans into their skills to create together, celebrating every child’s one-of-a-kind strengths and unique ways to live. There is room for everyone to grow in their special talents, and all gifts are welcome.

Gaines emphasizes that people who work differently can work together toward a common goal. Working as a team is also about affirming each other’s gifts and taking care of one another. The vibrant colors of hot-air balloons of all styles symbolizes the wide spectrum of humanity. This is a great way to teach children about inclusion and diversity from early on. Most importantly, it encourages the child to become assertive in his or her own identity. It is encouraging even for adults to read these affirming words: “So remember who you are. This is your life to live. Don’t ever hold back. You have so much to give! You’re one of a kind, and it's so clear to see: The world needs who YOU were made to be.” (Tommy Nelson)

About the Author

Mary Li Ma, Ph.D., is a a member of Plymouth Heights CRC church in Grand Rapids, Mich.

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