Thank You, God – J. Bradley Wigger and Jago

Thank You, God by J. Bradley Wigger
Published by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers on March 19, 2024
Genres: Children's
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A joyful reminder to view the world with gratitude and wonder.

• Booklist Top Ten Religion & Spirituality Books for Youth
• Spirituality & Practice Ten Best Spiritual Children’s Books of the Year

With warm, colorful art and lyrical text, this inspiring poem of praise invites children to see God’s goodness in the everyday. We can thank God for our big, beautiful world. We can praise God for the stories and songs we share. We can bless God for the love that holds us all together. From the first light of the sun to the peaceful quiet of night, we can find so many reasons to give thanks.

Now available as a board book for the littlest readers, this simple yet meaningful prayer encourages children to live with gratitude. Thank You, God is perfect for both ordinary and special moments, from mealtime to bedtime to Thanksgiving celebrations.

Every night, as I put my son to bed, we say what he calls the “Dear God.” We talk to God, tell them about our day, thank them for creating our family, and share about what’s on our mind. (For my son, it is always that he does not want to have a cough and does not want to dream. He hates both coughs and dreams.) We also, quite often, read a book or two. Thank You, God checks off both boxes, containing a beautiful prayer with enrapturing illustrations.

J. Bradley Wigger, professor of religious education at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary offers the text, thanking God for a variety of things beginning with the day and ending with night: the sun, family and friends, a home, food, fellowship, nature, and more. I particularly appreciated the inclusion of “Thank you God for the new words I learned today.” My son didn’t talk until he was three and the beginnings were slow. Today, a phrase I hear quite often, in reaction to word he’s read (he can read!) or heard is “What’s that mean?” In a prayer meant to be from the perspective of children, it was great to see how this aspect of development and learning was singled out specifically.

Jago provides the illustrations and they are incredible. You may have seen his work as Sally Lloyd-Jones illustrator of choice, but he’s done so many things and never fails to disappoint. He is able to draw out the theme of a particular paragraph’s refrain and evoke both awe and wonder. In thanking God for the night, he paints a hauntingly luminous moon set in a purple and black expanse dotted by stars. In thanking God for family and friends, he offers a lively, diverse landscape. The size of the book is also something to mention. This is a big book, which only accentuates the grandeur of the artwork.

Thank You, God was originally published in 2014 as a hardcover book with paper pages. In March 2024, Eerdmans Books for Young Children released a board book version, perfect for younger readers. One of my least favorite things of having young kids was watching good books get destroyed despite my best efforts. Board books are more durable and able to withstand the clumsiness of hands still figuring out fine motor skills.

I’ve very thankful for books like this that engage young kids through their embodied selves—through reading, speaking, looking, touching—to participate in spiritual disciplines and grow their relationship and communication with God. Thank You, God is a beautiful book.