As mothers, we can use books to have intentional conversations with our kids about biblical topics and incorporate the language of the Bible into their everyday lives, regardless of age.
My son loves to read, and I’ve found that the more Christian books I read with him, the more his biblical vocabulary grows. I can’t wait to keep reading with my son as he grows older and for our conversations to be enriched by more complex ideas found in the Bible and in Christian books. That is also my prayer for you and your children.
The following is a thematically-organized list of books I have either read with my son or read growing up. I highly recommend each and every one of these. Because many of our kiddos range from babies to teenagers, I have also included multiple suggestions within each genre to appeal to variety of ages:
1) Illustrated children’s Bibles
“The Jesus Storybook Bible” by Sally Lloyd-Jones, Kevin DeYoung’s “The Biggest Story” and Carl Laferton’s “The Garden,” “The Curtain and The Cross” are all wonderful and suitable for elementary age. When I was a teenager, I also loved “The Picture Bible” by Iva Hoth and illustrated by Andre Le Blanc. I almost had it memorized. Boys will love this Bible. And, for your artistic children, there is the “NIV Beautiful Word Coloring Bible.”
2) Books on theology
“Everything a Child Should Know About God” by Kenneth N. Taylor is an excellent primer for toddlers. If your child is in elementary school,”The Ology” by Marty Machowski is a good place to start. Finally, “The Case for Christ for Kids” by Lee Strobel (2010) is great; If you have a teenager, I would recommend Strobel’s original version for adults.
Tim Keller just came out with a wonderful, modern book of catechisms called “The New City Catechism.” There is a kid version for elementary-age students and an adult version for middle-school and up. Now, if your child is a history fan like I was, why not try reading older catechisms together, too? In the spirit of the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, you could read Luther’s “Small Catechism” (1529) as a family, discussing one Q&A per week and its relevance for today.
4) Books on faith and race
Trillia Newbell’s book “God’s Very Good Idea” just came out in September 2017, and it is fantastic! The book talks about how God made all of us different, yet special, and why He wants us to love Him and each other. I also would recommend the writings and speeches of Martin Luther King Jr., as he provided a pastoral view on the issues of race and racial reconciliation. Kadir Nelson has put together a book and CD called “I have a Dream” for elementary-age kids, while King’s “I have a Dream” speech and “Letter from Birmingham Jail” are great for teenagers.
5) Christian Fables, tales, and allegories
First, kids, young and old, need to read Aesop’s Fables. “Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan is a classic. It also has been adapted for young children in Oliver Hunkin’s “Dangerous Journey.” Also, R.C. Sproul’s children’s tales are a hidden gem. These include “The Prince’s Poison Cup,” “The Lightlings,” “The King Without A Shadow,” and “The Donkey who carried a King.” There also is Tony Hutter’s “How A Spider Saved a Man’s Life” and 51 other great Spurgeon stories.
6) Christian fantasy
I’m going to be picky here, because I am a literature professor. I don’t love all Christian fantasy; Some are not written well. But you can’t go wrong with the “Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis and “The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy by J.R. Tolkien. Both have kid and adult versions available.
7) Daily devotion books
I think we can and should encourage our kids to have daily devotions, no matter how young. Billy Graham’s “Hope For Each Day: 365 Devotions for Kids” is great for elementary kids as well as Max Lucado’s “Grace For The Moment: 365 Devotions for Kids.” Tim Keller’s “The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms” is suitable for middle-school ages and higher.
8) Family devotion books
There’s so much by Marty Machowski that I love to read, including his “Wise Up: Ten-Minute Family Devotions in Proverbs.” There’s also Nancy Guthrie’s “One Year of Dinner Table Devotions and Discussion Starters” and Champ Thornton’s “The Radical Book for Kids: Exploring the Roots and Shoots of Faith.”
9) Books for advent
For elementary age-kids, I would recommend Marty Machowski’s “Prepare Him Room: Celebrating the Birth of Jesus Family Devotional” and Nancy Guthrie’s “Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room: Daily Family Devotions for Advent.” For ages 12 and up, I would recommend Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “God is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas.”
10) Books on the Protestant Reformation
Because 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of Luther’s nailing of the 95 Theses, I think there is a place for kids to learn about and reflect on this special moment in church history. Check out Stephen Nichols’ “Reformation ABCs” and R.C. Sproul’s “The Barber Who Wanted To Pray,” as well as Martin Luther’s “A Simple Way To Pray” (edited by Matthew C. Harrison) and Stephen Nichol’s “The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World.”
Now, Christian ABC books aren’t on my top 10 list but, since I have a toddler, I’d recommend Kevin DeYoung’s “ABC The Biggest Story,” Stephen Nichol’s “Church History ABCs,” and “My ABC Bible Verses” by Susan Hunt. They have all been helpful in establishing basic Christian vocabulary for my son.
Do you have anything in your home library I didn’t mention here? I’d love to hear other ideas, too!
Published December 7, 2017