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Finding Truth in Children’s Books

Nobody else can do your job the way you do. And that’s a good thing.

One of the most enjoyable things about being a dad is reading books to my kids. My daughter, Daisy, will turn 5 this spring, and my son, Liam, will be 3 years old in June. So we spend a lot of time reading children’s books. And the content of those books I read them every evening is very different than what I read to myself throughout the day.

Kids’ books are amazing for a host of reasons. First, the pictures add so much to the reading experience. In the books my kids enjoy, the illustrations range from silly to sublime, and I find myself appreciating the artwork now in a way I never could have as a child.

I also love reading these books because they are full of boundless creativity and some really extraordinary writing. It doesn’t matter who sits atop the adult bestseller list; I would put Dr. Seuss up against them any day.

Reading a kids’ book can instantly transport me back to my childhood. I have fond memories of my parents and grandparents reading me classics like “Blueberries for Sal” and “Make Way for Ducklings.” Now, I read those same books to Daisy and Liam.

But more than all this, I love that children’s books are so uplifting. These short stories are often packed full of wisdom, encouragement and empowering messages. I often read things to my kids that I, myself, need to hear.

Among the most powerful messages in my kids’ books is the extraordinary importance of each person’s uniqueness. One of our favorite books, “On the Night You Were Born,” puts it this way: “Never before in story or rhyme — not even once upon a time — has the world ever known a you, my friend. And it never will, not ever again.”

As we grow up, society teaches us to compare ourselves to others. We become hyperaware of who has the most money, the biggest success, the best looks and the most acclaim. And since we’re all digitally connected to every person on the planet, we have an infinite number of opportunities to feel inferior.

But we were never intended to compare ourselves to others or conform to a socially acceptable standard of perfection. As my pastor often says, God made you on purpose and for a purpose. And He put you where you are, with the people in your life, because He made you to serve them in ways that nobody else can.

This principle applies to each of our lives in many ways. It certainly applies to the way you lead your church’s travel group. You may know of people who have bigger ministries or go on fancier trips. They may be funnier or more charismatic than you are. And maybe every one of their trips sells out. But you shouldn’t spend too much time trying to emulate them. Because what works for them may not work for you.

The gifts, talents and personality traits that make you unique also make you uniquely qualified to do what you do. So lean into your strengths, and go make a difference in the way only you can.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.