Review of The Gift I Can Give

Many people have opinions about Kathie Lee Gifford. On the one extreme, to many she’s been the face of the loud, shrill vapidity that is weekday morning television. On the other extreme, many people may not know that she’s a devout Christian, and not just in name only. She’s involved in many charitable projects, she uses her public platform to speak of faith in Christ, and she’s been through a number of very public and often humiliating trials, and somehow seems to continue to have joy in her heart.

The Gift That I Can Give is clearly written for young girls–all the illustrations center around a little girl observing the world around her and trying to understand what are the gifts that God gave her. As the father of a 3 year old, I appreciated this. So many “find your gift” messages seem to be focused on boys and “what do you want to be when you grow up” messages where the end goal is to make money or be successful in a worldly sense.

I like that the word “gifts” is (correctly) applied to many different things that can be used to help others–having a talent for things like art, music, or sports; having compassion for animals; being able to encourage others; helping those in need; or showing love to others. It reminded me of 1 Corinthians 12, which talks about how the Holy Spirit distributes different gifts to different people for the common good. It also reminded me of the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, where we’ll all be asked one day to give an accounting for what we did with the gifts we were given.

The book does mention God, but it doesn’t come off as “preachy”. I’m not sure when it became “controversial” to mention God in a children’s book, but in this book God is mentioned in the context that God made you special, God pours out a gift in your heart, you can ask God to reveal your gift, and that he wants you to use your gift to help others, and that the greatest gift is his love. All lessons that seem to be lost in our secular world, but all which hold the keys to real success in life. In fact, while this book was written for young girls, as a middle aged man I find myself still asking the same questions–what did God put me on earth to do, and when the time comes for me to show what I did with my talents, what will I have to show?

When I look at the negative reviews for The Gift That I Can Give on Amazon, I’m guessing that a lot of them made up their mind about this book without even reading it. For example, there’s one review that talks about how this book is about “adult career choices”. I had to re-read the book a few times to make sure that I was reading the same book because if anything, the book does the opposite (it focuses more on gifts like love and compassion than things like professions).

Overall, I highly recommend this book. I’ll be honest–I purposely avoided this book at first thinking, to paraphrase John 1:46, “Can anything good come out of Kathie Lee Gifford”. But I stumbled upon the book in the Amazon bookstore (hurray for brick and mortar), leafed through it, and found myself drawn to the surprisingly deep message and Julia Seal’s beautiful illustrations. Highly recommended for any parent of a young girl with dreams.

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