“Children and books go together in a special way. I can’t imagine any pleasure greater than bringing to the uncluttered, supple mind of a child the delight of knowing God and the many rich things He has given us to enjoy. This is every parent’s privilege, and books are his keenest tools. Children don’t stumble onto good books by themselves; they must be introduced to the wonder of words put together in such a way that they spin out pure joy and magic.” – Gladys Hunt, Honey For A Child’s Heart. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002. (This book is a good resource for choosing books for children)
Having raised five children – all of whom enjoy reading immensely – and now having two grand children – I believe strongly in reading daily with our children and that there are tremendous benefits – especially books that convey Biblical values and a Christ centered world-view. Here are my top 25 books for reading to your children – ages 2-11:
(1) The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name By Sally Lloyd-Jones & illustrated by Jago. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007. Product description: A Bible like no other, The Jesus Storybook Bible invites children to join in the greatest of all adventures, to discover for themselves that Jesus is at the center of God’s great story of salvation–and at the center of their own story too! The Jesus Storybook Bible tells the story beneath all the stories in the Bible. At the center of all is a baby, the child upon whom everything will depend. From Noah, to Moses, to the great King David–every story points to him. He is the missing piece to the puzzle–the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together. From the Old Testament through the New Testament, as the story unfolds, children will pick up the clues and piece together the puzzle. The Jesus Storybook Bible makes an excellent gift at Christmas, when we all remember that he is the puzzle piece that makes all the other pieces in our lives fit. Recommended for ages 4 to 8.
(2) 3 in 1: A Picture of God By Jonne Marxhausen. Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2004. Product description: This book effectively explains the Trinity to young children by using an apple. Just as the apple consists of three parts: the skin, the flesh, the seeds…it is still one apple. God had three persons: Father, Son, Holy Spirit…but He is one God. Ages 2-9.
(3) My ABC Bible Verses: Hiding God’s Word in Little Hearts By Susan Hunt & Illustrated by Yvetter Banek. Wheaton, Crossway, 1998. Product description: Knowing God’s Word helps anyone of any age know Him better. With this colorful book Susan Hunt has developed a fun way to help kids learn His truths. Each letter of the alphabet has a corresponding Bible verse, and each verse is accompanied by a story to illustrate the scriptural passage. Presented in an easy to use format, it’s perfect for use in family devotions, churches, Christian schools or Bible clubs. Recommended for ages 3 to 7.
(4) The Big Picture Story Bible By David Helm & Illustrated By Gail Schoonmaker. Wheaton: Crossway, 2010. Product description: Everyone loves a good story especially children! But what we sometimes overlook is that the Bible is more than a collection of great stories. It is the real account of God’s love for the world. The Big Picture Story Bible presents this remarkable true story. Simple words and striking illustrations unfold the story line of God’s Word and His love for the world from Genesis to Revelation. All ages will enjoy this exciting discovery of a God who keeps his big promise! Especially recommended for ages 2—7.
(5) The King Without a Shadow By R.C. Sproul & Illustrated By Liz Bonham. Philipsburg, New Jersey, 2000. When a little boy asks a powerful king, “Why do we have shadows?” the ruler doesn’t know—and neither do his wise men. But then the king hears about somebody who’s so great that he’s only light, with no darkness—and no shadow! A wonderful story about the holiness of God for your children ages 4 and up.
(6) The Lightlings By R.C. Sproul, & Illustrated By Justin Gerard. Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust, 2006. Product description: The Lightlings, Dr. R.C. Sproul weaves an allegorical tale that captures the essence of the biblical story of redemption in a manner that will fascinate and delight children. A race of tiny beings known as Lightlings represent humanity as they pass through all the stages of the biblical drama–creation, fall, and redemption. In the end, children will understand why some people fear light more than darkness, but why they need never fear darkness again. With richly detailed illustrations by Justin Gerard, this picture book also has discussion questions and Scripture references that will help parents guide children into the deeper meaning of the story. Recommended for ages 4 and up.
(7) The Prince’s Poison Cup By R.C. Sproul & Illustrated By Justin Gerard. Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust, 2008. Product description: With The Prince’s Poison Cup, Dr. R. C. Sproul continues his series of books designed to present deep biblical truths to children on their own level. In this work, he focuses on the atonement to show that Jesus had to endure the curse of sin in order to redeem His people from their spiritual death. When Ella gets sick and has to take yucky medicine, she wonders why something that will help her get well has to taste so bad. When she puts the question to Grandpa, he tells her the story of a great King and His subjects who enjoyed wonderful times together until the people rebelled against the King and drank from a forbidden well. To their horror, they found that the beautiful water in the well made their hearts turn to stone. To reclaim His people, the King asks His Son, the Prince, to drink from a well of horrid poison. The poison will surely kill the Prince but He is willing to drink it to please His Father and help His people. Richly illustrated, The Prince’s Poison Cup will help children appreciate the great love of God for His people and the awful price Jesus had to pay because of sin. A For Parents section provides assistance in unfolding the biblical elements of the story. Recommended for ages 4 and up.
(8) The Barber Who Wanted to Pray By R.C. Sproul & Illustrated By T. Lively Fluharty. Wheaton: Crossway, 2011. Product description: An excellent gift for children of all ages and a wonderful addition to any family’s library, this new story by R.C. Sproul will help open you and your children’s minds to prayer. Follow this story as you meet a Barber who discovers that his last customer for the day is the outlaw Martin Luther. Rather than turning him in, he asks him a simple question, “How can I pray better?” Discover, along with the Barber, the simple ways that you can pray better through The Lord’s Prayer, The Apostle’s Creed, and The Ten Commandments. All three prayers are listed in the back for reference. Ages 4 and up.
(9) The Priest with Dirty Clothes By R.C. Sproul & Illustrated By Justin Gerard. Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust, 2011. Product description: Darby and Campbell decided to make mud pies outside, and have made a mess of their clothes and ruined them. When Grandpa comes to visit and sees their muddy clothes, he remembers an amazing story. The story that he tells Darby and Campbell is about a young priest who, on his way to preach his sermon to the royal family, falls from his horse and ruins his robes. Unable to preach before the King with dirty clothes he is sent away, but must return in a weeks time with clean clothing. Unfortunately, nothing will get the mud out of the clothes and they are ruined. But when the young priest goes to see the great prince, he is given a wonderful gift. Teach your children the love, grace, and kindness forgiveness that God gives us with this beautifully illustrated book. Included in the back is a section “For the Parents” with questions to help guide discussion of this book with your young ones. Ages 4 and above.
(10) The Donkey Who Carried a King By R.C. Sproul & Illustrated By Justin Gerard. Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust, 2012. Product description: Give kids a unique perspective on the events of Jesus’ Passion Week with this illustrated story by R.C. Sproul, The Donkey Who Carried a King. Davey was a young donkey who never had anything to do . . . until one day some strangers arrived and Davey was given a very special task: to carry the King, Jesus, into Jerusalem. Davey sees things that he doesn’t understand, until another donkey helps him see that the King is willingly a Servant on behalf of His people. Ages 6-12.
(11) The Merchant and the Thief By Ravi Zacharias & Illustrated By Laure Fournier. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010. Product description: When Raj left the room, Mohan tiptoed over to his belongings and searched hurriedly under Raj’s pillow. Again he found nothing. Mohan longs for Raj’s treasure. He plots and he schemes and his plan seems perfect! But along the way, he discovers an important lesson about wanting what someone else has … and about the most important treasure of all. From bestselling author Ravi Zacharias comes a retelling of a classic Indian folktale that teaches powerful truths about faith. Ages 4 and up.
(12) The Topsy-Turvy Kingdom By Dottie McDowell, Josh McDowell and David N. Weiss. Product description: This colorful book will fascinate children as they learn the significance of right and wrong. The McDowell’s focus on the importance of truth and the chaos of relativism so that your children can understand how to worship God in spirit and in truth. Ages 2 and up.
(13) Right Choices: Helping Kids Live God’s Way By Kenneth N. Taylor & Illustrated By Kathryn Shoemaker, Wheaton, Tyndale, 1999. Product description: One of the toughest jobs parents face is teaching children to make right choices. In Right Choices, Dr. Taylor’s grandfatherly chats can help you with that job. Poems, Bible verses, prayers, and delightful pictures work together to make the job fun. Your kids will learn that it is WRONG to lie, steal, go with a stranger, fight, make fun of other people, cheat, throw a tempter tantrum, and more. They will learn that it is RIGHT to be thankful and polite, to talk to God, forgive people; control their temper, and more. Recommended for ages 3-7.
(14) The Big 10 for Little Saints By Matt & Lisa Jacobson. Sisters, OR: Multnomah Books, 2000. Product description: In a chaotic, increasingly immoral world, this important volume enables parents to teach their children God’s Ten Commandments. These simple, yet clear explanations, along with incredible artistry make an indelible mark on young impressionable minds. Ages 3 and up.
(15) Cows In The House By Beverly Lewis & Illustrated By Chi Chung. Minneapolis: Bethany, 1998. Product description: The lighthearted tale of a little barefoot boy who struggles to live with five quarreling sisters and learns a valuable lesson in contentment from his grandfather based on Philippians 4:11. Captivating stories and verses for children ages 4 to 8.
(16) Big Truth For Little Kids: Teaching Your Children to Live For God By Susan Hunt & Richard Hunt. Wheaton: Crossway, 1999. Product description: Your children are a blessing from God. A gift that brings an abundance of joy and the privilege of teaching them God’s ways. When they’re young their potential to learn is amazing. And because actions and beliefs go hand in hand, the lessons they learn from you now will shape their lives forever. How we live is based upon what we believe. Susan Hunt wants to help parents systematically teach their kids the basic truths of faith so that they live for the Lord. This wonderful book, with its easy-to-use story format, can help you teach the basic truths of the Christian faith to your children. Each lesson in this devotional for children begins with simple questions and answers about a biblical principle and is followed by a story of two youngsters, Caleb and Cassie, that portrays how that truth can be applied. You’re children will learn right along with Caleb and Cassie that God’s ways are best–and that even as kids, they can live for His glory every day. Recommended for ages 5 to 9.
(17) Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God By Bruce A. Ware, Wheaton: Crossway, 2009. Product description: Big Truths for Young Hearts encourages and enables parents of children 6 to14 years of age to teach through the whole of systematic theology in an understandable, chapter-a-day format. Parents can teach their children the great truths of the faith and shape their worldviews early, based on these truths. The book covers ten topics of systematic theology, devoting several brief chapters to each subject, making it possible for parents to read one chapter per day with their children. With this non-intimidating format, parents will be emboldened to be their children’s primary faith trainers – and perhaps learn a few things themselves along the way.
(18) The Big Book of Questions and Answers By Sinclair B. Ferguson, Genies House, Fearn, Tain, Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus, 1997. Product Description: Questions! Questions! Questions! Children are full of them. Where did I come from? What is God like? Is there only one God? This book is a family guide to the Christian Faith that will help you to answer these questions. This is a book for families to discover the key doctrines of Christianity in a way that stimulates discussion and helps children want to know more. Each page is set out in a clear child friendly way with A Question, The Answer, A Memory Verse, Reading Time, Talking Time, Action Time and Prayer Time. Ages 5-10.
(19) The Big Book of Questions and Answers about Jesus By Sinclair B. Ferguson, Genies House, Fearn, Tain, Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2000. Product Description: Following on from the success of the original Big Book of Questions and Answers, this book tackles the many questions that children have about Jesus, including: What was so special about Jesus? Why did Jesus heal sick people? Why did Jesus have to die? How can I give my life to Jesus? An invaluable tool for introducing children to Jesus and helping them to get to know Him better, in an enjoyable and interactive way. Recommended for ages 5 to 10.
(20) Hero Tales: A Family Treasury of True Stories from the Lives of Christian Heroes, Volume 1 By David and Neta Jackson. Minneapolis: Bethany, 2005. Product description: Drawn from the lives of fifteen key Christian heroes, Hero Tales is a beautifully illustrated treasury of forty-five exciting and educational readings designed to help foster Christian character qualities in families with elementary-age children. This inspiring collection presents a short biography and three true stories for each hero, including: Amy Carmichael, Martin Luther, Dwight L. Moody, Samuel Morris, Harriet Tubman, William Tyndale and John Wesley. Whether read together at family devotions or alone, Hero Tales is an ideal way to acquaint children ages six to twelve with historically important Christians while imparting valuable lessons.
(21) Hero Tales: A Family Treasury of True Stories from the Lives of Christian Heroes, Volume 2 By David and Neta Jackson. Minneapolis: Bethany, 2005. Product description: Drawn from the lives of fifteen key Christian heroes, Hero Tales is a beautifully illustrated treasury of forty-five exciting and educational readings designed to help foster Christian character qualities in families with elementary-age children. This inspiring collection presents a short biography and three true stories for each hero, including: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Eric Liddell, John Bunyan, Jim Elliot, Florence Nightingale, Amanda Smith, John Newton, and Corrie ten Boom. Whether read together at family devotions or alone, Hero Tales is an ideal way to acquaint children ages six to twelve with historically important Christians while imparting valuable lessons.
(22) Hero Tales: A Family Treasury of True Stories from the Lives of Christian Heroes, Volume 3 By David and Neta Jackson. Minneapolis: Bethany, 2005. Product description: Drawn from the lives of fifteen key Christian heroes, Hero Tales: Volume III is a beautifully illustrated treasury of forty-five exciting and educational readings designed to help foster Christian character qualities in families with elementary-age children. This inspiring collection presents a short biography and three true stories for each hero, including: Billy Graham, Luis Palau, Mother Theresa, Brother Andrew, Lottie Moon, and Jonathan & Rosalind Goforrth. Read together at family devotions or alone, Hero Tales: Volume III is an ideal way to introduce children ages six to twelve to historically important Christians while imparting valuable lessons.
(23) Hero Tales: A Family Treasury of True Stories from the Lives of Christian Heroes, Volume 4 By David and Neta Jackson. Minneapolis: Bethany, 2005. Product description: Drawn from the lives of fifteen key Christian heroes, Hero Tales: Volume IV is a beautifully illustrated treasury of forty-five exciting and educational readings designed to help foster Christian character qualities in families with elementary-age children. This inspiring collection presents a short biography and three true stories for each hero, including: C. S. Lewis, Joy Ridderhof, Ricky and Sherialyn Byrdsong, William J. Seymour, John and Betty Stam, and William Wilberforce Whether read together at family devotions or alone, Hero Tales: Volume IV is an ideal way to introduce children ages six to twelve to historically important Christians while imparting valuable lessons.
(24-25) Bible Doctrine For Older Children, Books A & B, By James W. Beeke. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage/Soli Deo Gloria, 2009. Product description: Bible Doctrine for Older Children is a two volume series consisting of twenty chapter which contain simple explanations of all major biblical doctrines. Book A contains chapters 1-10 and Book B chapters 11-20. The explanations were written for children eleven years of age and older. This series contains more than 150 stories and illustrations to help explain the doctrinal concepts being taught. These books were written for home, personal, or family reading; school Bible doctrine teaching; or church catechetical instruction. Ages 9 and up.