Published by Thomas Nelson on November 10, 2020
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, Joanna Gaines and illustrator Julianna Swaney celebrate how creativity and acceptance can come together to make for a bright and beautiful adventure. The book follows a group of children as they each build their very own hot-air balloons. As the kids work together, leaning into their own skills and processes, to fill the sky with beautiful colors, we discover that the same is true for life--it's more beautiful and vibrant when our differences are celebrated.
Together with Joanna, you and your kids will take a journey of growth and imagination as you learn in full color that:
We should celebrate every child's one-of-a-kind strengths as well as teamwork and acceptance of differences
Everything can be made more beautiful when we share our talents and abilities
We should lend a helping hand and do our best to take care of one another
The World Needs Who You Were Made to Be is a vibrant picture book perfect for:
Parents, libraries, classroom story times, and discussions about diversity and being a good human being
Households that enjoy watching Chip and Joanna on Magnolia Network and HGTV's Fixer Upper
With plenty of pink, a bounty of blue, orange and green and yellow too, this vibrant hot-air balloon adventure celebrates every child and teaches kids that we are in this together. "You're one of a kind, and it's so clear to see: The world needs who you were made to be."
Identity formation begins even before birth, as children absorb who they are from those around them. In the first few hours after birth, they can tell one smell from another, one voice from another, one presence from another. In their early years, formative experiences forge their identities and as children began to learn and grow, their natural personalities begin to show. Some of it is nature; some of it is nurture.
And it is at this point that adults begin to want to control children. We needlessly gender toys and clothes and types of play. We stifle their emotions and their creativity in the name of compliance. We do everything we can to get them to conform to the system—the educational system, the economic system, the social system. We is a general term, of course, for the prevailing culture. Maybe, perhaps particularly within the church. And that’s why to review a children’s book, I’ve written two paragraphs on early childhood psychology. Because this is a book that gets it. This is a book that understands that the cultural limitations and boundaries and expectations needs to be broken, because, child, The World Needs Who You Were Made to Be.
Written by Joanna Gaines and illustrated by Julianna Swaney, Who You Were Made to Be is a bold manifesto written to tell our little ones: Be fully and unapologetically you. The story, told more through the pictures than the words, symbolically follows a group of children as they collaborate on building a whole fleet of hot air balloons. Everybody brings their own unique talent and skill. Gaines points out that we all work differently. The illustrations show a variety of children all building their own style of balloon in their own fashion.
Gaines writes that we all have different working styles (alone or with others, quietly or in conversation, thoroughly or whimsically). There is a whole array of skin color and hair color, including children in wheelchair—with an accessible entrance to her balloon! Sometimes we’re scientific and rely on our smarts. Sometimes we’re creative and lean into the arts. Page to page to page, your children will learn that it takes all types of people to come together to build community and that we are all needed. In the last quarter of the book, the balloons take to the sky as Gaines exhorts her readers that even thought we may not be the same, we all have an important part to play. The world needs who you were made to be!
Julianna Swaney’s illustrations are absolutely delightful and certainly eye-catching. Gaines’ exhortations are thoughtful and encouraging. The rhyme structure is a bit weak and choppy at points. The wording could have been refined even as the message is absolutely spot-on.
I could honestly see this as one of those books, like Dr. Seuss’s O, The Places You’ll Go that get shared with high school graduates as they move to a new chapter of life. While the message is geared toward children, the message is ageless and timeless. Whether your three or thirty-three or ninety-three, let Joanna Gaines speak these prophetic words of inclusion, belonging, and power over you.