Angel of God,
My guardian dear,
To whom God’s love commits me here.
Ever this day be at my side
To light and guard,
To rule and guide.
Today is the Feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, which makes it a great time to talk about a darling new kids’ picture book. The book is God Gave Us Angels, written by Lisa Tawn Bergren and illustrated by Laura J. Bryant. It’s a gentle, very appealing introduction to angels for the preschool/ early elementary set.
In the book, a little polar bear cub asks Papa Bear about guardian angels, and they have a conversation about angels as they move throughout a snowy landscape. Other creatures make an appearance – penguins, birds, rabbits – and as they discuss guardian angels, a polar bear angel occasionally hovers in the background, wings unfurled, giving visual proof of the daddy bear’s words.
The question/answer format is an effective way to cover the range of kids’ questions about angels. What do angels do? Will I ever be an angel myself? Can we pray to angels? (Papa says no, you only pray to God, which Catholic parents can turn into a teachable moment about how different people believe different things about prayer). Papa also emphasizes the role of angels as messengers and protectors; the very last page shows Little Cub asleep in bed, her guardian angel watching over her as she sleeps.
My favorite question/answer page is when Little Cub talks about how she hasn’t always been safe, sometimes she has gotten hurt. “Why didn’t God give me an angel those times?”
“I’m not sure, Little Cub,” is Papa’s response. “But no matter what happens, we can trust he is near and watching. He loves us, even more than the angels do.”
I like how a child’s book has the honesty to admit that sometimes we just don’t know why bad things happen. If there’s one thing I am learning, it’s that kids are smarter than we often think, and they can see through us if we try to give a phony answer, particularly to the question that has stymied believers for centuries. And I really like how the book immediately reinforces the fact that God loves us always, constantly, no matter what.
God Gave Us Angels is a lovely book, one full of gentle warmth. It makes me want to check out the other books in the series (they include God Gave Us You and God Gave Us Love). My kindergartener is enjoying this one thoroughly and I like reading it with him, especially at bedtime. At the end of a busy day, it’s nice to send kids off to bed with thoughts of angels in their heads.