Three IVP Kids titles have been honored with Independent Press and Illumination Awards. Saint Patrick the Forgiver is the 2024 Independent Press Award winner in the category of Childrens: Religion Nonfiction. When I Go to Church, I Belong and God, Right Here tied for the gold medal in the 2024 Illumination Awards in the Children’s Picture Book category.

Elissa Schauer, editor for IVP Kids, said, “Our ongoing hope for IVP Kids is that all our books offer content that sparks meaningful conversation. That requires each title to include a meaningful message, wrapped in a fun story or lyrical poem, with illustrations that children love. I’d say each of these books hit the mark!”  

The recipient of the Bronze Moonbeam Award and now a 2024 Independent Press Award, Saint Patrick the Forgiver: The History and Legends of Ireland’s Bishop, written and illustrated by Ned Bustard, is a retelling of the fascinating life of the real Saint Patrick. After escaping from slavery in Ireland, Patrick is prompted by God’s love to return to the land of his captivity and share the Christian faith with its inhabitants. Saint Patrick is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland and is Ireland’s patron saint.

Bustard said, “Saint Patrick is a bridge to our culture across which we can walk to discuss what real Christianity looks like. Many people may not have heard of Saint John or Saint Matthew, but they will have heard of Saint Patrick. For those with children in their lives, they can honor Saint Patrick’s Day as a day to celebrate with Irish food and music while focusing on God’s work through the life of Saint Patrick, which is why this book can be helpful.”

Bustard is a graphic designer, a children’s book illustrator, an author, and a printmaker. As the creative director for Square Halo Books Inc. and curator of the Square Halo Gallery, he has lectured at colleges, schools, churches, and conferences. His work is found in numerous titles including Saint Nicholas the GiftgiverSaint Valentine the KindheartedThe O in HopeRevealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-Ups, and Every Moment Holy.

A gold medal winner in the 2024 Illumination Awards, When I Go to Church, I BelongFinding My Place in God’s Family as a Child with Special Needs offers a message of inclusion and belonging. Written by Elrena Evans and illustrated by Rebecca Evans, this book follows the story of six children, helping us better understand the experiences and feelings of those with special needs.

“I want children with special needs, and caregivers of children with special needs, to feel seen—to see themselves and their stories represented in the book,” Evans said. “I want children who don’t have special needs, and their caregivers, to become curious about welcoming those with special needs into their faith communities. I also want children to resonate emotionally with the characters in the story—because I believe shared empathy can be the first step toward friendship and true belonging. And last, I want pastors, Sunday school teachers, and other church workers to be encouraged to think about ways their own churches can become more welcoming.”

Elrena Evans is executive editor of Paper&String, a digital care package celebrating faith, creativity, and beauty in its many forms. She is the author of Special Grace: Prayers and Reflections for Families with Special Needs and a short story collection, This Crowded NightRebecca Evans is an author and illustrator who has worked on more than twenty-four children’s books.

The other 2024 Illumination Awards gold medal for Children’s Picture Book went to God, Right Here: Meeting God in the Changing Seasons, written by Kara Lawler and illustrated by Jennie Poh.

Sarah Philpott, author of The Growing Season and Loved Baby, said, “Kara Lawler’s debut picture book, God, Right Here, is pure magnificence. The words and illustrations form a rich tapestry showcasing how our God is with us in each and every season. Children will delight in searching for all the ways they see God in the pages of this exquisitely illustrated picture book. Children and adults alike will be inspired to appreciate all the vibrant nature on display in each of our lives. This breathtaking book is a form of worship; we do thank God for creating such a beautiful world for us to reside in and for being with us in the here, now, and future!”

Kara Lawler is the author of Everywhere Holy: Seeing Beauty, Remembering Your Identity, and Finding God Right Where You Are and A Letter for Every Mother, but she has wanted to publish a children’s book since she was a little girl! As a contributor to several magazines and websites, some of her essays have been read and shared millions of times. 

Jennie Poh fell in love with the countryside at a very young age, developing a deep connection to nature and conservation. As an illustrator, she still loves to connect with nature—namely through making her own paintbrushes and textures with leaves, bark, flowers, and anything else she may find while walking outside.

Through story and illustration, books from IVP Kids engage, challenge, and delight IVP’s young readers. And in keeping with IVP’s historic mission, IVP Kids offers resources that reflect and celebrate diverse voices, equipping and encouraging children to follow Jesus in every area of their lives.

For a complete list of children’s titles from IVP, visit