Resources for Young Readers
by Heidi Sweet
For a Children’s Ministry Director, picking a favorite book is like a musician having to pick their favorite song. We can easily narrow the list to one – the Bible- which is all we need for life and godliness. It’s useful for teaching, correcting, rebuking, and training in righteousness, and giving us endurance and encouragement to live in harmony with one another (2 Peter 1:3, 2 Tim. 3:16-17, Rom. 15:4).
Of course, we are not seeking to go beyond the Bible, but rather good literature helps us understand God’s Word, explain it to kids, and apply it to our everyday living. We are blessed to have so many great authors who creatively write to help us know, grow, and go in our understanding of who God is. Utilize this list as a starting point to research these authors and publishers to find even more books to build your library, for the young and the young at heart.
Building the Gospel
Preschool- The Biggest Story ABCs by Kevin De Young
Elementary- The Biggest Story by Kevin DeYoung
These books have a special place in the Sweet household. Since their publication in 2015, we’ve been reading them for our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners. These books ground the reader to “God’s glorious plan to redeem His rebellious people”. Don Clark’s illustrations, especially his vivid colors and graphic design, make the gospel story come alive on paper.
Preschool- First Bible Basics- A Counting Primer by Danielle Hitchen.
Elementary- The Ology- Ancient Truths Ever New by Marty Machowski
First Bible Basics and the entire Catechesis collection bring theological depth to toddlers’ board books, helping parents teach Biblical concepts using kinesthetic and visual learning through auditory reading. The Ology is a great book for readers of any age. It’s particularly a wonderful resource to explain the deep truths of Scripture to your children, grandchildren, and young friends.
Building Love for God
Preschool- My ABC Book of Bible Verses- Hiding God’s Word in Little Hearts by Susan Hunt
Elementary- The Tanglewood’s Secret by Patricia St. John/ Little Pilgrim’s Progress by Helen Taylor (adapted from John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress)
This list of books is an older set from our family collection. Starting with toddlers, any book that covers the ABCs of reading and spiritual growth in one, maximizes your time, assists your recollection of Scripture for memorization, and practically applies God’s Word into their little lives, is a valuable resource. Patricia St. John’s series of chapter books creatively describes a character of God through a fictional story.
Tanglewood’s Secret develops a picture of Christ as Shepherd, watching over His little lamb. Unlike the traditional picture of the lamb cuddling within the Savior’s arms, this lamb, with a fiery temper and selfish spirit, stands on a precipice after running away from the pasture, unaware of the Shepherd’s watchful eye, protecting the sheep and drawing it back to the flock. Pilgrim’s Progress is one of the most read Christian books. This version simplifies the vocabulary and concepts for younger readers, taking the reader on the journey of a Christian’s walk from justification, sanctification, and glorification.
Building Love for Others
Preschool- Thoughtfull, Colorfull, and Gracefull by Dorena Williamson
Elementary- God Made Me and You by Shai Linne/ God Made Me series
Dorena Williamson has ingeniously woven a child’s need for curiosity of the created world to a need for education of God’s creation of image bearers of all shapes, sizes, and colors. These books lovingly “build bridges of grace that can bear the weight of truth,” giving children a foundation of love from the beginning.
Knowing Shai Linne’s musical gift of deep theology expressed in three minutes of rap, there is no surprise that this book would provide Bible basics from the beginning, explaining God’s love for the only creation that He called “very good”, His children. This book and the corresponding series celebrate God’s infinitely unbound creativity and imagination in His creation.