God Counts: Numbers in His Word & His World – Irene Sun

God Counts Irene Sun
God Counts: Numbers in His Word and World by Irene Sun, Alex Foster
Published by New Growth Press on November 2018
Genres: Children's, Children's Educational
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In this engaging, illustrated children’s book by Irene Sun, young readers learn how numbers declare the glory of God, discovering Bible stories and the truth, beauty, and goodness of our sovereign God through numbers and patterns. With countable illustrations and an easy-to-learn structure, children who are always seeking, finding, tracing, and counting numbers will be captivated by God Counts.

Through simple language kids will understand, God Counts shares theological truths and helps children become familiar with Scripture, exploring the patterns of creation, numbers in the plan of redemption, and the intimacy of a personal relationship with God. This children’s book explores how God counts every fish in the sea, every star in the sky, every hair on their heads, and every tear in their eyes.

This playful children’s book serves as a beginner’s theology book for young readers who love numbers and patterns, introducing the Trinity, the God of order, the holiness of God, the problem of sin, the rescue and love of Jesus, and much more. Children who love to count will be filled with wonder, leading them to understand deeper truths about God, themselves, and the world around them.

There are a lot of children’s books that explore God’s creation through letters. I’ve not run across any that did so through numbers, not until now. In God Counts, theologian Irene Sun invites young readers and pre-readers to master their numbers through learning about the way God uses numbers in the Bible to teach us about himself.

I have to admit that I was skeptical at first. Other than a few number combinations—3 for the Trinity, 2 for animals on the ark, 7 (or 6) for days of creation—I wasn’t sure what concepts Sun would use to fit the construct of counting. I couldn’t envision how it could be done and not seem contrived.

I was wrong.

So wrong.

And Sun defies convention and expectation. 2 wasn’t about animals on the ark. 12 wasn’t about the disciples. Instead of searching for a number in Scripture and plugging it into her book, Sun gets deeply theological. The concepts she covers range from how God speaks to us, how we were not made to be alone, that we were created to reflect God’s character.

This is not a counting book.

This is a theology book.

When I turned to the back cover, I found that Sun studied liturgy and literature at Yale. She definitely brings that academic background to this book, applying it at a level that your youngest readers and pre-readers will be able to follow. She’s also written a recent article called You Can Teach Theology With Picture Books, which you should definitely read.


  1. One tells us that God is first and best.
  2. Two tells us we are not alone.
  3. Three tells us God is love.
  4. Four tells us God made everything beautiful.
  5. Five tells us God speaks.
  6. Six tells us God hates sin.
  7. Seven tells us God is with us.
  8. Eight tells us God rescues his children.
  9. Nine tells us to be like God.
  10. Ten tells us God does not want any of his children to be lost.
  11. Eleven tells us God forgives us.
  12. Twelve tells us we will live forever with God.
  13. Infinity is a symbol for something that has no end.

Each of these statements is followed by one or two Bible verses that illustrate the concept. For many of these, that is enough to get the point across. Others needed more explanation or a greater connection. Just a sentence or two of commentary would have really made this book shine. But I’m really grasping at straws to find any sort of criticism. This is a beautifully thought-out book that defied my initial expectations of it.


God Counts InsideAlex Foster’s illustrations really bring the book to life, with a simple painted look filled with pastels and soft tones. It really fits the style and tone of the text and captures the meaning of each number. His painting for infinity is especially beautiful and serves as a perfect parallel for the panel that begins the book.


God Counts is a beautifully written, wonderfully illustrated book of numbers and theology for young children. It’s everything I want a children’s book to be. I really hope this is only the beginning of Sun’s ministry. She’s shown a distinct ability to turn a simple children’s book into a beautiful liturgy for young readers.