Cover Image: When I Go to Church, I Belong

When I Go to Church, I Belong

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Member Reviews

Simple, well written story about the experience of children with disabilities at church. This book could be used both with children that have disabilities, while also helping children who do not get a glimpse into the experience of people who have different needs at church.

I really appreciated the different types of needs that were mentioned, things like companions, ramps, and quiet spaces.

Overall an excellent choice for a church library, for parents wishing to talk to their children about differences, and children's leaders wishing to encourage positive experiences for all children.

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This book was so adorable, I loved everything about it, the illustrations were so well done, they suited the book perfectly, the story was amazing as well, even thought is very short I could really connect with the characters. I’m sure the kids are going to be just as enthralled with this amazing book as I was. I will definitely recommend! Thank you netgalley and the publisher for this early copy

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Where can I join this church? As a mom and I teacher, I know how important it is for children to know they belong. This book lets ALL children know they are welcome in the House of God.
I think this book should be read to every child in religious education, regardless of ability. The illustrations are also delightful. Highly recommend! Thank you to InterVarsity Press and NetGalley for a complimentary copy of this book. My options are my own.

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This is a sweet story about love and acceptance in a church setting. Loved the illustrations that showed people from different walks of life. I especially loved the story being told from a child's perspective. I wish everyone felt loved and accepted in church.

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I received an electronic ARC from InterVarsity Press through NetGalley.
Encouraging reminder for all of us to be aware of how our children perceive our churches. Evans offers an empowering look from the children's POV. Readers see differently abled kids share how their church families make them feel welcome and have adapted spaces for their needs. The illustrations offer further details about each scenario so readers feel they are included also.
A much needed book for church leadership to be sure they are welcoming to all. Families will appreciate the connections for their own children.

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Review of eBook

Children, despite their disabilities, talk about having a feeling of belonging in the Church. Here they enjoy being with friends, sharing meals, learning about God, and sharing in fellowship with the others in the Church. There are always happy things; sometimes there are hard things, but every child knows the feeling of acceptance and of being an integral part of the Church family.


In the Bible, we read the words of Jesus, saying, “Let the little children come to Me . . . .” In this book, readers see this become a reality as inclusion is the norm and children with a variety of disabilities are, like everyone else in the Church, a special part of God’s family. Uplifting and heartwarming, this is the story everyone should read and take to heart “. . . for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Charmingly illustrated, the gentle text in this compassionate book affirms everyone as it shows the children that they are indeed welcomed and treasured.

Highly recommended.

I received a free copy of this book from InterVarsity Press, IVP Kids and NetGalley and am voluntarily leaving an honest review.
#WhenIGotoChurchIBelong #NetGalley

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5-stars! This is a lovely book and perfect for inspiring important conversations among church staff. The connections between the mentioned Scriptures, the beautiful illustrations, and the story's message are distinct and clear.

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This story is a wonderful addition to an inspirational library. Church is for everyone, including those with disabilities. Each page demonstrates the many ways church can be accessible to all children from ramps to special comfy rooms catering them. 4/5

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When I Go to Church, I Belong by Elrena Evans is a beautifully told story that reflects the message "come as you are." Opening with a portion of Scripture from the Gospel of Matthew, the story reminds readers that Jesus told His followers not to hinder the children from coming to Him. Inspired by the author's life experiences mothering children with special needs, When I Go to Church, I Belong shares the love God has for all His children, and how the Church heeding that message creates a welcoming environment for children to grow, learn, and experience what it truly means to be part of a church family.

The warm and engaging artwork by Rebecca Evans is the perfect complement to this story. The illustrations are as beautiful as the story itself. They capture the sights, sounds, scents, and feelings of a community.

When I Go to Church, I Belong is a must read and would be a great fit for any church or home library. It is a celebration of a life where everyone can belong.

Highly recommended!

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A lovely, Christian picture book that contains beautiful illustrations with an important message of inclusion for all. I especially appreciate the choice to represent children with physical and emotional challenges along with images from many cultures.

Evans wants children to understand that attendance at Church allows them to become familiar with children who are similar and those who may appear completely different. It is a safe, warm environment where everyone gets to feel comfortable and celebrated for their own uniqueness.

Recommended for all ages but especially appropriate for children in the four to eight-year-old age range.

- Reviewed by children's book author, Barbara Ann Mojica for Net Galley

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I enjoyed this book showing how children with special needs can be embraced by the church. A variety of diagnosis, including deafness, Down’s syndrome and mobility issues are all shown as well as the way the church can welcome them all in. Not only do I think this book would be good to show churches what they can do to provide a truly welcoming environment, I hope that it would also help children understand and accept children who are different than them. The illustrations are nice and I think children would enjoy looking at the details in them.

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley, all opinions are my own.

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I think that there needs to be more diversity in the church and books written in the church. And this book fits the bill. I am so happy to have found this book to share with my godchildren. The illustrations are beautiful and show how everyone is unique and perfect in their own way.

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This is a beautifully illustrated book full of a cast of diverse characters all gathering to learn about God. There were so many different abilities and how each one was made to feel comfortable, taken care of, accepted, and cared for. When I Go to Church, I Belong (Finding my place in God’s family as a child with special needs) is an absolute must have for every child’s home library and I will absolutely be adding it to (and reading to) my grandmuffin; it was generously offered by NetGalley and Elrena Evans in digital format in exchange for an honest review

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I am so glad I came across this book in the Read Now section. What a beautiful story to bring forth how God has made everyone differently but as the author states at the end, “relationships grow not from the absence of differences but from the presence of what is shared.” It made me stop and think about what my church does or does not offer for children and adults with disabilities. Thank you so much Elrena Evans for such an eye opening story. And also such beautiful illustrations by Rebecca Evans.

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When my son was two and a half my husband and I started to get feedback on our son. Sometimes it was curious or kind, but oftentimes it was critical and judgmental; as a young, inexperienced mother these negative comments took a toll, and Sunday mornings became a thing to dread. Was I doing something wrong? Was there something wrong with my son? Why, out of all the free advice I had received, had no one offered any guidance on this matter? The critics seemed the loudest, but there were those who came alongside my family, and offered love, encouragement, and a kindness I will not soon forget. These people made Sunday mornings bearable, helped lessen my anxiety, and most importantly, loved my son well. Fast forward several years. More comments, more critiques, more free advice. Lots of prayer, lots of books, and lots of time searching for and talking to professionals willing to listen to a concerned mother. We have a diagnosis, we have a treatment, and we have plans in place to help my baby in a plethora of situations. Perhaps more importantly, we have a church home where my family feels welcome, and my son feels safe.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I want you to know how deeply I connected with Elrena Evans and Rebecca Evans' book, When I Go to Church I Belong. I have read this book multiple times, and each time I am floored by the beautiful message represented here: love thy neighbor as thyself.

This important book is a beautiful example of how every church should look - full of love, compassion, and grace. Rebecca Evans does a wonderful job of illustrating a diverse church compiled of different races and different abilities. Children are shown with both visible and invisible disabilities, and I saw my own son's needs reflected in these pages, as well as other sweet children I've known throughout the years. Everything from mobility to neurodivergence is reflected within these pages, along with viable ways to assist families. A ramp on a playground, an adult "buddy", or a calming room where the sermon can still be enjoyed are all ways churches can feel more welcoming and accessible to families who cope with disabilities daily.

I am so thankful for this book, and I agree wholeheartedly with the author. I hope this book is a conversation starter for congregants, committees, and pastors. I hope they recognize not everyone feels welcome at church because their needs - important needs which may not be visible - are not recognized, provided for, or accepted. When a family has a need or a struggle, they already feel isolated, and sometimes ashamed, but it doesn't have to be that way. Pastors, ministers, Sunday School teachers, and other church leaders can come alongside families and walk with them. Encouragement, provision, and acceptance are stepping stones to make families feel at home at church, and really, that's something every church should strive for.

I highly recommend When I Go To Church I Belong, especially if you're a leader within the church. I hope and pray this book has a large impact, and sheds light on an area the church is oftentimes found lacking. Publication for this title is set for September 19, 2023. Thank you Netgalley and IVP Kids for the chance to review this book.

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This was a wonderful book! Every child and adult should read. We all need to be understanding of those who have struggles whether a child or an adult. Opening lines of communication with your children and yourselves will help foster compassion and understanding of what other children are struggling with. God made us all unique yet in his image. We all need friends and need to be accepted. Loved the illustrations! The German shepherd service dog drew me to this book. I have raised German shepherds as future guide dogs…hero dogs for the heroic! Loved this book. Well done! We also have a buddy program and sensory room in our church. I will be purchasing this book for our church library!,,

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My kids (7 & 2) are not special needs, but they are very familiar with church and engaged fully with this book. My 7yo asked questions about why some parts of church weren’t always easy for kids, so it was great exposure to people and kids who may be different from him. I felt that many different diagnoses and needs were covered, and special needs families would hopefully feel seen in these pages.

Wonderful and definitely recommend to church attendees with young children and to any special needs families.

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Our family is blessed with a special little one and sometimes church and crowds can be hard. This was a perfect story to share with him so that he knows he is not alone. I love the soft illustrations and peaceful text that calmly explains how even those who are different belong at church. I will definitely be sharing this story with my friends who face the same situation with their little ones. Very heartwarming story and we adored it.

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This is a wholesome and heartwarming take on how an inclusive church can provide a refuge and a support system for a child who is not like other children.

A faith-based institution that models the values upon which it is founded can provide immense support and succour to a family with a special needs child.

And by accepting each child for who he or she is - each with their special gifts and constraints - the church can create a home and community that every child feels at home in. This book does a good job of explaining that from the perspective of a special needs child.

The author's explanation of her own journey and why she wrote the book was also very moving and well worth a read.

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When I Go to Church,I Belong by Elena Evans

This book should be required reading for the outreach department of all churches and places of worship, since it shows pictures, and tells in plain words, exactly how to make all children feel welcome and comfortable in those circumstances and those times.

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