The Theological Books on our Little Girl’s Shelf

Our daughter is due to arrive this week! Throughout our time preparing for her arrival – decorating the nursery, picking our precious little newborn jammies, and assembling her crib – nothing has given us more joy and vision for raising her than selecting quality books to stock her nursery. 

We have a fairly specific vision for her library (at least, for her Bible-oriented reading. Don’t worry … we still include some Dr. Seuss!). We want all of the books to be theologically-minded and rooted in sound, orthodox theology. And yet … we also want them to be winsome and fun (can’t have this little lady growing up thinking theology is drab!). So here are some of the titles on our little girl’s bookshelf. Grab them for yourself, your little ones, or as a gift!

Big Theology for Little Hearts series. Big Theology for Little Hearts is a board-book series for children ages 1–5 that teaches key Christian truths in simple, easy-to-understand terms. Each book introduces a big idea from the Bible with concise definitions and engaging illustrations to help young minds gain a foundational understanding of God’s Word. As each book’s topic builds on the previous one, children can develop a cohesive framework of theology that includes God, creation, humanity, Jesus, and the gospel—allowing parents to start having crucial conversations with their children as early as possible. There are currently three books in the series: JesusGodand The Gospel

Meeting with Jesus: A Daily Bible Reading Plan for Kids. Following up his popular book Exploring the Bible, a plan for children ages 6–12 to read through the whole Bible, David Murray has written a new reading plan for children that focuses on Jesus Christ. This volume walks kids through the 4 New Testament Gospels over the course of a year. Each of the 52 “meetings with Jesus” teaches a new truth about Jesus through 6 days of Bible reading and includes interactive reflection questions, space for prayer and application, memory verses, and lines for sermon notes. In less than 5 minutes a day, children will get to know Jesus and his offer of abundant life.

Jesus and the Very Big Surprise. This beautifully-illustrated hardback book by well-known singer and TV presenter Randall Goodgame is based on the parable in Luke 12 v 35-38. It teaches children that Jesus will return, and when he does, there will be an amazing party where… SURPRISE!… he will serve his faithful servants! Jesus didn’t tell us when that party will be, but we can make sure that we’re ready for it by loving him and loving his people while we wait.

Love Made. The joy of the Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—has existed for all eternity. That indescribable joy bubbled over to make creation. God made so many wonderful things, but we are by far His greatest work of art. Share that precious truth with your little one with this unique children’s book celebrating the miracle of God’s creation. Boys and girls will learn about God as the Trinity, the Creator, and about how they are made in His image. Beautifully illustrated and lovingly written, Love Made will become a story time favorite for your child or makes a thoughtful gift to give a parent-to-be. Help your child discover that out of all the amazing things love made, the most amazing of all is them.

The Garden, the Curtain and the CrossThis beautiful hardback Bible storybook for 3-6 year olds takes children on a journey from the Garden of Eden to God’s perfect new creation. It is a gospel presentation that focuses on the significance of the temple curtain. God said “because of your sin you can’t come in”, but the moment the curtain tore in two, everything changed. Children will learn that Jesus breaks down the barrier of sin between us and God so that we can enjoy him for ever. Stunningly illustrated by Catalina Echeverri, author and illustrator of several bestselling children’s books and all the books in the ‘Tales that Tell the Truth’ series from The Good Book Company. Written by Carl Laferton, author of Christmas Uncut and Original Jesus and Editorial Director of The Good Book Company. This beautifully produced and biblically faithful book makes a perfect gift.There is also an accompanying Easter Calendar with family devotions which takes a more in depth look at the passages that underpin the storybook. Also check out our full size images to use in presentations if reading to a large audience, the coloring and activity book and the free word search and coloring sheet that you can download from the bottom of this page.

 Jesus and the Lions’ Den. Helps children to see the gospel heart of the whole Bible as they discover how Daniel points to Jesus. The story of Daniel and the Lions’ Den teaches children many things… It teaches them about praying; it teaches them about Daniel’s faithfulness to God, and God’s faithfulness to Daniel; and it teaches them that God is the real king of everyone everywhere. But if you peel back another layer, you’ll see that like the rest of the Old Testament, it also points to Jesus. This stunningly-illustrated retelling of Daniel and the lions’ den helps children to see Jesus in the story of Daniel. It challenges children to spot the ‘Jesus moments’ by looking out for the hidden lion symbols. It goes on to explain the parallels between Jesus and Daniel, so that children can see the gospel heart of the whole Bible. Great for children aged 3-6.

 Goodbye to GoodbyesTeach young children that Jesus came to end goodbyes. Jesus knew how scary it is when someone gets really sick. He knew how sad it is when someone dies. Jesus cried when his friend, Lazarus, died. But he did something at his friend’s tomb that changed everything. He showed that he came to give his friends life after death.  In this vivid, moving and exciting retelling of the story of Lazarus, Lauren Chandler helps children understand that Jesus came to say goodbye to goodbyes—for ever. The author, Lauren Chandler, used the story of Lazarus to help her own children in the wake of her husband’s (Matt Chandler) brain tumor. Whether children are coming to terms with the illness or death of a loved one, or simply fearful of when that day might come, this book reassures them with the amazing truth that Jesus came to give his friends life after death.

 God’s Very Good Idea. God’s very good idea is to have lots of different people enjoying loving him and loving each other. This stunningly illustrated journey from the garden of Eden to God’s heavenly throne room shows how despite our sinfulness, everyone can be a part of God’s very good idea through the saving work of Christ. This book celebrates diversity and will help children see how people from all ethnic and social backgrounds are valuable to God and how Jesus came to rescue all kinds of people. It will also excite them about being part of church – God’s delightfully different family.

The Friend Who ForgivesDo you ever talk before you think? Mess up? Let others down?  That’s what Peter did, again and again and again, and it led him to abandoning his best friend, Jesus. Peter loved Jesus. He felt terrible when he pretended not to know him. He thought all was lost when Jesus died. But after Jesus rose from the dead, he went and found Peter and forgave him. He explained that his death took the punishment for all of Peter’s mistakes and that his resurrection showed that the penalty was lifted. Peter spent the rest of his life telling people that if they put their trust in Jesus, they could be forgiven too—again and again and again. Children know all about failing, but they don’t always experience true forgiveness. This book points them to Jesus, the friend who will forgive them again and again and again.

The Storm that StoppedDramatic retelling of Jesus calming the storm that will teach children about who Jesus really is and how they can really trust him. This beautiful hardback storybook is based on the account of Jesus calming the storm from Mark chapter 4. Stunningly illustrated by Catalina Echeverri, author and illustrator of several bestselling children’s books and all the storybooks in the ‘Tales That Tell The Truth’ series from The Good Book Company.Written by Alison Mitchell, author of The Christmas PromiseThe One O’Clock Miracle and several of our children’s tracts. This book is perfect for children aged 3-6 years old and makes a beautiful gift.

The Baby Believer Series. My internet friend, Danielle, has authored several simple board books that are perfect for the youngest readers. I’m confident that they will be some of our first reads with our little lady! They include Holy WeekLet there be LightFrom Eden to BethlehemPsalms of Praise, and (her newest addition) Jesus Heals. We have them all and they’re great for ages 6months to 3 years old. 

 The Jesus Storybook Bible tells that Story beneath all the stories in the Bible. From Noah to Moses to the great King David, every story points to a Child. The one upon whom everything would depend… There are lots of stories in the Bible. But all the stories are telling one big story. The story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them. The Jesus Storybook Bible invites children to discover for themselves the one who is at the center of God’s great rescue story — and at the center of their story, too. Because the Bible isn’t a book of rules. Or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a story.  And at the center of that story is a baby. And every single story in the Bible whispers his name.

The Biggest Story ABCFrom Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden to Zion and the new creation world, the Bible is telling one big story—the story of God’s promise to deliver his people. Kevin DeYoung, best-selling author of The Biggest Story, has written a new board book to help kids ages 1 to 3 to make connections from Genesis to Revelation and from A to Z. Each page introduces a new letter of the alphabet with engaging and whimsical illustrations from award-winning artist Don Clark, retelling the biblical narrative in one continuous story. This board book is a fun way for parents to introduce their small children to the big story of the Bible.

Beginners Gospel Story BibleThe Beginners Gospel Story Bible is a gospel-centered, Bible storybook for toddlers and preschoolers with fifty-two Bible stories retold in a simple and compelling way. Author Jared Kennedy traces through the stories of the Old and New Testament how God keeps his promises in surprising ways better than anyone could have ever thought or imagined! Each story highlights for young children Gods story of redemption through Jesus and the unexpected ways that God’s grace and mercy are revealed throughout the Bible. Children will hear the good news of God’s love for them clearly expressed in ways that will speak to their young hearts. Each story ends with a question that parents and caregivers can use to further reinforce the story. Brightly colored illustrations highlight each story and add fun teaching elements of counting, opposites, patterns, and object recognition to keep the youngest child’s attention.

 The Biggest StoryThe Bible is full of exciting stories that fill children with awe and wonder. But kids need to know how all those classic stories connect to Scripture’s overarching message about God’s glorious plan to redeem his rebellious people. In The Biggest Story, Kevin DeYoung—a best-selling author and father of six—leads kids and parents alike on an exciting journey through the Bible, connecting the dots from the garden of Eden to Christ’s death on the cross to the new heaven and new earth. With powerful illustrations by award-winning artist Don Clark, this imaginative retelling of the Bible’s core message—how the Snake Crusher brings us back to the garden—will draw children into the biblical story, teaching them that God’s promises are even bigger and better than we think.

Is My Child Ready to Study the Bible + Where Do We Start?

Have you ever wondered: Is my child ready to study the Bible?

My oldest son, Noah, was almost two, and we were watching one of the Mickey Mouse Christmas movies, Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas. In one of the scenes, Mickey gets angry with Pluto and leaves the house in a huff, and Pluto, sad he had disappointed his pal, hops on a train and runs away. 

I look over at my sweet Noah, and his eyes are filled with tears, which begin rolling down his cheeks, sharply followed by a wailing, “Nooooooooooooooo!”

Up until that moment, I’m not sure I realized that Noah was actually following the plot line of the movie. At 21 months old, he was capable to comprehend what was happening in the story. I’m not sure exactly when the change occurred, but he had moved beyond just liking the songs and the moving colors on the television. 

And that was when it hit me: If my child can comprehend a cartoon, he can comprehend the Bible. 

After all, the Bible, in the simplest explanation, is the written record of God’s story. Scripture is the greatest story ever told.

So if you are seeing the signs that your child’s mind can comprehend story, don’t settle for just filling their minds with cartoons. Begin filling their minds with God’s truth. 

Here are a few things that I’ve enjoyed using with my kids:

Don’t wait until they’re ready to get started.

As newborns, I would read a short devotional to my children at night. But here’s the secret between you and me: it wasn’t for them. 

It was for me. 

As a mom of a newborn, when rest was in shorter supply, which also means a lower level of brain functioning, there were times when I would get more from a children’s Bible story or devotion than my own quiet time. 

Why? Because it was simple. And it was often the simple truth of the gospel that my heart needed. 

A few I recommend: The Jesus Storybook BibleHis Little Princess (for girls) by Sheri Rose Shepherd, and His Mighty Warrior(for boys), also by Sheri Rose Shepherd. 

At the toddler stage, interaction plays a large role in comprehension. 

The same truth we know for ourselves starts young. The more senses and learning styles you can cross, the more likely your child is not to just to hear the story, but to retain the story.

In addition to the tools at Tiny Theologians (the ABC cards and the Lord’s Prayer Interactive cards are our faves!),we also love My First Hands-On Bible. Throughout the short stories, there are prompts in the margins for kids to act things out, repeat a phrase, etc.  Especially if you have active kids, these little cues for interaction reallyhelp them engage with the story. 

When they reach reading age, use God’s Word to guide them in spiritual truth with reading benefits. 

Last summer, I did my first full-fledged Bible study with my son, Noah (from the above story – who is now eight!) We studied the book of Proverbs together. It prompted many great discussions, even throughout his school year, as he encountered different situations with friends, academic challenges and teamwork in athletics.

As young as first grade, he is seeing the wisdom in following God’s ways – because he heard the truth in God’s Word first, and then he experienced many of the things God either warns about or encourages us to pursue.

Of course, there were words I needed to help him read, and there were some topics we agreed to dig into more when he’s older, but essentially, Proverbs is a book that reminds us we have a choice to make:

Are we going to live like the wise man, or are we going to live like the fool?

Proverbs reminds us of what the wise man lives like and the rewards that follow wisdom. At the same time, Proverbs also warns us about how the fool chooses to live and the consequences of foolishness.

It’s incredible to me how much those words have weight with him now. If I tell him he’s being wise, he beams. And if I ever have to whisper that he’s headed toward foolishness, he also knows the seriousness of adjusting his behavior. 

To be clear – reading Proverbs together does not create perfect children. But it did have an effect on him, and he was able to comprehend more of it than I expected.

Bottom line: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17

And because we know that’s true, it’s always a good idea for including God’s Word as the foundation of our parenting, and it’s never too early.

You got this, mama – because He’s got you.


The following article was written by Michelle Myers of She Works His Way. You can read more from her on her blog or follow her on Instagram!

Finding Your Way Home

When Dory’s parents realized the challenges she would face as a fish with short-term memory loss, they devised a plan to help keep her safe. They taught her little jingles to help her avoid the undertow. They made her practice introducing herself with the words “I suffer from short-term memory loss” so other fish would know she needed help. But most importantly, they played cheerful games of hide-and-seek, cleverly training her to follow the purple shells that would lead her home.

Towards the end of her movie-long quest to find her parents, Dory finds one purple shell. In an ocean full of shells, it seems too good to be true that she could have actually stumbled onto a trail left just for her. But the purple shells keep appearing, one after another, until she enters a valley in the ocean floor where the whole trail is laid out before her. Watching this movie as a parent, I felt a swell of joy when I realized her parents had made not just one, but dozens of trails stretching out like spokes from the central hub of their home. When her parents return with their fins full of shells, I just I knew that this was what they had been doing every day since their daughter left. Because that’s what I would do.

Probably the scariest part of parenting is the fear of sending our kids into the unknown. We know our time with them is short and that eventually they will strike out alone. We want to prepare them for everything but we simply don’t know what they will have to face or how they will face it. I know too many parents of adult children who’ve wrestled with their disappointment and grief over children they raised to love the Lord who have “gone astray” (Isaiah 53:6). I try to hold my hopes for my children in one hand, but hold this possibility in the other. It reminds me how important it is to make the most of these early years.

Just like Dory’s parents trained her with games and repetition to avoid the dangers of the ocean, my husband and I use a combination of fun and persistence to try to prepare our children for the challenges to come. We read their children’s Bibles over and over. We send them to Sunday school where they make crafts and eat snacks that reinforce the lessons from the Bible stories. Mostly we try to answer their questions. In doing so, we hope to provide them with a larger theology–a systematic understanding of God–that addresses the questions they are asking already and the ones they haven’t thought to ask yet.

C.S. Lewis compared theology to a map that is drawn “based on the experience of hundreds of people who…were in touch with God.” Theology is not meant to be formal or esoteric, it is intended to be practical guidance. Therefore, theology is as much for children as it is for anyone. When I teach my children theology, I’m giving them a map that shows them the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6), but I am also giving them a map for how to get back on the ancient paths (Jeremiah 9:16) should they ever lose their way. I want to train them now how to avoid danger, but also to know that if they get into trouble, love is always waiting at home for them. Always.

The underwater family reunion at the end of Finding Dory feels like a parable for parents who never want to lose their children but are wise enough to prepare for the possibility anyway.

 

 

This is a guest post by Laura Lundgren. 

 

​Laura Lundgren is a lifelong reader, former English teacher, current homemaker, and aspiring writer. She makes her home in Wisconsin with her husband, who is also her pastor, and her four young kids.

 

She reviews books and serves as the Women’s Editor at servantsofgrace.org. You can find more of her writing at her blog littlehouseinthesuburb.wordpress.com.

 

Teaching Children Theological Vocabulary | by Emily Jensen

I clutched the steering wheel as a sixteen-year-old driver who’d narrowly missed an accident, and I wondered, “If God is faithful to forgive my confessed sins, what happens if I die before having time to wipe my account clean? Will I go to hell?”

Those were deep thoughts for a dance team co-captain on her way home from school, but they were my honest questions. Although I vividly remember my confusion, I’m sure my youth group leader, parents, and Christian friends would have been surprised by my misunderstanding. Forgiveness was a common word in our circles—how could I hear it and use it without knowing what it meant?

This taught me something—professing Christians can conceal their misunderstanding of common theological words and still “fit in”. So as tempting as it is to think that my children grasp the theological language I throw their way, they might not. Although it takes a lifetime to refine the nuances of theological vocabulary, specificity and accuracy matters to the very foundation of our children’s faith. 

Here are four ways we can cultivate a clearer understanding of theological language in the daily discipleship of children we interact with:

Regular Exposure

I’ll never forget when one of my favorite education professor’s said, “Chatty moms are great for a baby’s development!” This seemed like good news for a verbal processor like me. Regular exposure teaches vocabulary using repetition and conversational context clues, so children can learn theological fluency as they read biblically-based books, hear adults have gospel conversations, sing rich hymns, listen to the bible read-aloud, hear sermons on Sunday, and eavesdrop on quality audio teachings. Some studies suggest a typically developing child needs to hear a word dozens of times before they can use it, so say bible words to your children (and say them often). Grasping definitions is a long road that requires intentional guidance, but basic familiarity is a first step. 

Intentional Teaching

Along with basic familiarity, children can learn theological language by hearing clear, age-appropriate definitions. Different denominations and religions use words like, Jesus, baptism, peace, consecration, and faith, but sometimes they mean completely different—even heretical—things by those words. To give children a solid grounding for orthodox definitions, we can teach basic catechisms. Even if they don’t fully understand what they’re saying, having biblically-rooted, memorized definitions for major theological words and concepts can help them grow in comprehension for years to come. You can also use vocabulary flash cards. Pick a new word each day or each week, and intentionally discuss its meaning. If those things seem too overwhelming, just pause when you’re reading a bible passage and clearly explain what unfamiliar words mean.

What you say to a three-year-old is going to be different from what you say to a thirteen-year-old, but it’s important to ensure your child knows the true, biblical meaning of the words they’re using. 

Daily Application

As our children hear theological vocabulary and grow in their understanding of specific definitions, we can connect those concepts to real life. It’s a great thing to hear an adult say, “Be patient!” and know that patience means, “Waiting without complaining,” but it’s also helpful to understand “patience” through actionable practice. When a child wants to go outside, but can’t until the rain stops, we can get down at their level and explain, “Let’s have patience. With God’s help, we can be content and look for another way to enjoy the day he’s given us. Do you want to read a book?” Similarly, a child can apply the concept of forgiveness when they reconcile with a sibling without carrying bitterness into the next activity or they can learn cheerful giving when they willingly dig into their piggy bank to put their coins into the offering plate. When a child lives theological language, they can begin to learn it.

Prayer for Transformation

Several years after my sixteen-year-old self questioned the true meaning of confession and forgiveness, I finally came to a God-induced realization that my record was so long I could never keep a clean account. The knowledge of my spiritual bankruptcy caused me to hope in the only person who could eternally clear my debts and provide undeserved righteousness. 

God’s convicting and transforming power is essential to our theological teaching because children can misunderstand (even when we’ve been clear) and children can know the right definitions without believing them. So along with intentional exposure, training, and application, we must pray. We pray that they learn to love the deep truths of the faith, seeing things like forgiveness as desperate personal needs and not just cognitive concepts. Ultimately, our hope isn’t in our ability or sufficiency to teach theological vocabulary, but in God’s ability to help true believers persevere and grow. Let’s teach—but let’s also trust. 

 

This is a guest post by Emily Jensen. 

 

Emily is the co-founder of Risen Motherhood, currently serving as the Content Director and the co-host of the weekly podcast. Emily enjoys being on the women’s ministry team at her local church, speaking to mom’s groups about the beauty of the gospel, and teaching in the church preschool nursery. Emily, her husband, and their five young children reside in central Iowa.


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