I’ve been a mom for fifteen years now, which means I’ve read my fair share of children’s books. In the last couple of years spent reading to my youngest son, Crew, I’ve been struck by the way that books written for children are able to simplify a message that adults have somehow made so complex. It might take hundreds of pages of a textbook to dissect the same concept that a children’s book articulates as clear as day in only a few short pages. Yet another reminder of the beauty of simplicity, and how seeing the world through the eyes of children is oftentimes best.
And that was the beauty of writing this book. The goal was simply to convey a message that all of us need to hear—no matter who you are, or where you are from, or how old you are, or what you look like, or who you love, or what the color of your skin is, or what you believe in—the world needs you. It needs your abilities and your talents, your quirks and your curiosities, your unique thoughts and your beautiful mind. It needs you just the way you are.
The idea for this book was inspired by my kids. One of my greatest joys as a mother has been to watch them grow and change and become who they are. And, between the five of them, they are all becoming very different people—in their likes and dislikes, in how they approach situations, in how they solve problems, and simply in how they go about their day to day. My hope is for each of them to know, deep in their bones, that who they are is good, and that the differences that they see in each other and in themselves are to be celebrated.
And I’m carrying that same hope for the rest of the world—for me and for you and for your kids. I hope that we can throw out any standards that say you should be this way or that way and hold tight to only the standards that require us to take care of each other and be kind to one another, as well as ourselves. Because we’re here right now—on this great adventure together—working it out, each of us bringing our own stories and strengths and personalities to the table. And though it is imperfect and requires lots of learning and unlearning and learning again, I’ve come to realize it’s more beautiful this way. The world is better off when we all lean into who we truly are and fight to uphold the unique goodness in all of us.
So, this book is more than just a sweet story about a group of kids building their hot air balloons for a big adventure. It’s a declaration for seeing and celebrating the differences in one another. It’s a proclamation for loving the person next to you for who they are as well as loving yourself for who you are. And it’s a reminder that the world needs both you and me.
I hope that as you read it to your kids, it inspires and spurs them on to know and love who they are for all of the beautiful and unique and magical gifts they have to offer to the world. And I hope that it does the same for you, that it encourages you to love yourself—because I mean it when I say that the world needs who you were made to be.