An interview-style article by the author of the children’s books: for Who Is God? and God is My Song. By Jennifer Gohl, a member of St. Paul Evangelical RUCS, Hamburg MN.
How did you get the idea for these books?
Some years ago, when my oldest was still just a baby, I was considering how I wanted to teach him (and any other children we hoped to have). I wanted him to grow up to fear God and serve him with his whole heart, so I thought a good starting place would be for him to know who this God is. At the time, I had not come across any children’s books that taught the attributes of God. Why not make one myself? I thought. Since I have always loved writing, this was an exciting thought. As I began jotting down some ideas for a book on the attributes of God, more thoughts kept coming to my mind. They were more than I wanted to attempt to fit into a single small children’s book. Now that my mind was on the track of writing, the idea of making a set or a small series was born—a set of about three volumes that would explain some basic Christian truths—theology for young children.
What is your purpose for creating these books?
I wanted to have something that would help me teach theology in a simple way to my little ones with their impressionable minds. I saw a need for something like this since I had yet to find one (perhaps it was just because I didn’t look hard enough or didn’t look in the right places). And I wasn’t satisfied with the thought of waiting until my children were much older to introduce them to certain theological concepts using books that have been written for an older age group. So I set out to create something that would hopefully start them on a pilgrim’s path as a small child. Knowing who God is and knowing who we are both are basic, essential things that are so foundational for a Christian to know. For how can you rightly worship and serve a God you don’t know, or be saved from sin if we don’t know how sinful we are? As an adult, I have found that so many of our problems come from forgetting who God is, so I figured this was a good place to starting to teach them…and for reminding myself!
Tell us about the artwork.
I never really thought of myself as an illustrator, so for the Who Is God book, I fi gured I would just try drawing the pictures on the computer. I was wanting the artwork to have a bolder looking appearance and thought I would be able to achieve that with crisp, computerdrawn images of a single object. After I had printed this book, someone mentioned to me that they thought it would have a nice effect if the artwork was hand-drawn. So when it came time for doing the illustrations for God is My Song, I figured I would give it a try drawing my own pictures. At the time of creating the drawings, I was pregnant with Baby number 4, and in order to make the pictures more relatable to my boys, I drew the illustrations with our family in mind. So there are many pictures with little boys, and their dad. I chose to use the father/son relationship throughout the book as it is something that is not only familiar to many young children but is also how God relates to us. I purposely left the faces more or less undrawn so that the reader could put his own thoughts into the illustration.
Since God has many attributes and qualities, how did you decide which ones to include in your books?
I pretty much just looked up various lists of God’s attributes and decided which ones I thought were different enough from each other to be able to have separate pages for each one. I wanted to include a good number of God’s attributes—just to try to paint a fuller picture of His character for the children. I know we can never distill all of who God is into some simple qualities, but I wanted to have many different ones included. I also tried to include many of God’s noncommunicable attributes to show how magnificent He is and to hopefully bring about a sense of awe for Him. God is like no other, and I wanted to show that by highlighting many of His qualities that are not ones alike to humans, such as patience and kindness are alike to us. For God is My Song, I went through the Bible and tried to list out all the ways that He interacts with us and who He is towards us in a relational sense. I wanted to bring out the relational aspect of God. So, putting the 2 books together: I was aiming to show the reader who God is—so great, big, powerful, and magnificent—but also that He is personally involved—having a care and love so special for His children, even down to all the tiny, fleeting things in our lives.
What was the most challenging part of making these books?
I had to combine some of the qualities because of the amount of space in the book and because some of them were pretty similar to other qualities. It was somewhat of a challenge because as I delved into God’s various attributes,some aspects of 1 quality seemed to fit better with two or even three different ones. My challenge was to, yet again, try to be including many qualities and finding which ones fit most closely with others but were yet still different. For example, God is my priest, mediator, advocate, and intercessor all seemed similar on one level, yet each one carries some differences that I didn’t want to overlook or eliminate. So I had to decide which ones to pair together on the same page that would highlight the essence of that particular quality as a whole but yet also how it was similar and different to the other quality on the page. I also wanted to include some of these big theological words that young kids may hear but not know entirely what they are.
Tell us about your third book.
My third book in the series is most fresh on my mind as I have been working much to get it in its final editing stages. This one is a little bit different from the first two in that I have more text on the lefthand pages for explanation. The title is Who Am I: The truth about the way God sees me, and in it I attempt to summarize, for children, the nature of mankind and his existence. It has three sections that delve into who we are as humans (truths for all people throughout the ages), who we are as unbelievers or before the Lord saves us, and then who we are as redeemed children of God. I’m excited to have them all as a completed set for I think they address such important truths that I want for my children, and others, to understand and meditate upon. For we need to know who God is to truly know and love Him, and we also need to know who we truly are so that we can know Him and bring Him more glory, which is our purpose.