Teaching Children the Gospel
The Bible is our primary teaching curriculum in the discipleship work of our children (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). In addition, there are great supplemental resources that can assist in the journey. This page features books/media that have been useful to my family in nurturing our children in the gospel.
Below, please find resources under the categories of catechism, biblical theology for kids, systematic theology for kids, simple Bible studies, Scripture memorization tools, teaching church history, Christmas recommendations, and books on important topics in discipleship -- such as the beauty of ethnic diversity and guarding children against pornography. My recommendations come with a brief review of the resource.
Parenting can be hard, praises to the God who perfects His strength in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). In all, "may the God of peace ....equip [parents] with everything good that [we] may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen." (Hebrews 13:20-21).
Truth and Grace Memory Book
Editor: Thomas K. Ascol
Publisher: Founders Press, Reprinted 2005
Why we Love It: My husband and I have chosen the Truth and Grace Memory Book as our catechism curriculum. I've heard Pastor Sinclair Ferguson describe catechism as putting Velcro on the hearts of children so that understanding, when it comes, sticks more firmly. We've enjoyed using these books for three reasons: 1) It employs historic orthodox teaching including The Shorter Catechism of The Westminster Assembly and the Heidelberg Catechism; 2) the books are organized by age (it begins as early as 2) and grade level, which makes it easy to teach; 3) It includes Scripture and hymn memorization. We have enjoyed learning together as a family!
Gospel & Biblical Theology
The Garden, the Curtain and the Cross – the true story of why Jesus died and rose again
Author: Carl Laferton (illustrated by Catalins Echeverri)
Why we love it: This is a favorite children's books. In many ways, it is a "Bible story-line" overview for kids, tracing God's work in the Garden of Eden to the cross of Christ. The book is stunningly illustrated and captures the vision of Revelation 7:9, the glorious diversity of the church. I especially love the book's repetition of the phrase: "Because of your sin, you can't come in...BUT I died on the cross to take your sin...so all my friends can now come in!" My husband and I have made this phrase a sort of "catechism" for explaining what sin does and what Christ has done on our behalf.
The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings us Back to the Garden
Author: Kevin DeYoung (illustrated by Don Clark)
Publisher: Crossway, 2015
Why we Love It: The Biggest Story shares the goal of The Jesus Storybook Bible--both are determined to tell the Big Picture Story of the Bible through smaller stories. The Biggest Story stands apart in that it goes further to uncover some of the lesser known biblical themes of Scripture. For example, DeYoung speaks of Jesus throughout the book as the new Adam, the only One able to succeed where the first Adam failed; He alone can restore us to the Revelation 22 garden. The book is a vividly illustrated Bible story-line book for children (and their parents). It clearly exalts the snake-crushing King of Glory!
The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every story whispers His name
Author: Sally Lloyd-Jones (illustrated by Jago Silver)
Publisher: Zonder Kidz, 2007
Why we Love It: The Jesus Storybook Bible is a massive 348-paged book with the mission to "tell the Story beneath all the stories in the Bible." Beautifully illustrated and almost poetic in voice, the book tells 21 Old Testament and 23 New Testament stories--puzzle pieces that fit together to reveal the Big Story of God's rescue of sinners through Jesus Christ. It's a great book to help point children away from "the moral of the story" to God's work of salvation through Christ.
Great Kings of the Bible: How Jesus Is Greater Than Saul, David and Solomon
Author: Deepak Reju (Illustrated by Fred Apps)
Publisher: Christian Focus Publications,
Why we Love It: Great Kings of the Bible is a great example of what our emphasis, focus, and direction ought to be in teaching our children the stories of the Bible. Deepak Reju explains the history of Israel's great kings, Saul, David and Solomon, with a commitment to point children toward Jesus, the everlasting promised King who accomplished what no earthly king could. This biblical theology book follows the theme of kingship and can help children see how the Old Testament points to Jesus.
Everything a Child Should Know about God
Author: Kenneth N. Taylor (illustrated by Jenny Brake)
Publisher: Tyndale House, 2014
Why we Love It: This book was my favorite children's book in 2015. It served well as reading material for family worship for weeks! In many ways, it's a systematic theology book for little ones. It's a 10 chapter, 188 paged book that addresses topics including: what is the Bible, creation, who God is, the problem of sin, why Christ came, how the Holy Spirit helps us, why we go to church, and when Jesus comes back. These big ideas are explained in a child-friendly style. The book is beautifully illustrated and reflects Revelation 7:9's vision of a diverse church. What a treasure for family devotions!
Children's Books by R.C. Sproul
Author: R.C. Sproul
Publisher: Reformation Trust
Why we Love It: The Priest with Dirty Clothes is my favorite children's book by Dr. R.C. Sproul. The story is based on Zechariah 3:1-5--the vision of Joshua the high priest--and R.C. Sproul tells a beautiful fictional tale aimed to explain the concept of imputed righteousness. Parents will find the book useful in helping children to see Christ as our substitute, not just in judgement but also, in righteousness. And if the The Priest with Dirty Clothes helps children to see Christ as our substitute in righteousness, then The Prince's Poison Cup is the companion book in showing Christ as our substitute in judgement. Both books (as well as all of Dr. Sproul's children's books) are must haves!
I Am: 40 Reasons to Trust God
Author: Diane Stortz (illustrated by Diane Le Feyer)
Publisher: Tommy Nelson, 2016
Why we love it: Beginning with the Creator (Genesis) and ending with the King of Kings on a white horse (Revelation), the book uses Bible stories to explain 40 names and titles of God. Stories are followed by short devotionals aimed to help children see how the title/name shows who God is and what He does. Each chapter ends with a prayer and a "learn more" section with additional Scriptures and Bible story-line notes for further study. This is a beautifully illustrated companion to your family devotional materials for sure!
Words About God: To Help You Worship Him
Author: Nicholas Choy
Publisher: Christian Focus Publications , 2012
Why we love it: Creator. Aseity. Spirit. Personal. Eternal -- this book takes 28 attributes of God and provides a sound and simple definition for each, along with Scripture verses for further reading. It's been said that everyone is a theologian. If so, this small book will certainly help your young theologian in his/her knowledge of the one true God.
Author: Larry Libby (illustrated by Wayne McLoughlin)
Publisher: Zonder Kidz, 2001
Why we love it: We had a small child in our church who lost her grandmother and other family members. This book was helpful in addressing questions on heaven. The 24 chapter book, recommended for children ages 4-7, is packed with references to passages and verses about Heaven and can serve as a great resource to parents in sensitively dealing with children's real concerns in a world filled with death.
Theo: Church Edition
Produced By: LifeWay Christian Resources
Why we Love It: Theo Church Edition comes in three DVD sets, each with four 10-minute episodes (see LifeWay for a breakdown of the sets and episodes). The episodes are beautifully animated, age-appropriate (4-12 ages) videos that serve well in teaching children concepts like saving faith, redemption, justification, adoption, and what is the church? Each episode features a fun story-line with Theo (our animated theologigan) and his friends that serves as an illustration to the Bible passage and/or lesson. My children love to watch Theo (and so do I)!
Sammy and His Shepherd: Seeing Jesus in Psalm 23
Author: Susan Hunt (illustrated by Cory Godbey)
Publisher: Reformation Trust, 2008
Why we Love It: Sammy and His Shepherd is an easy to read Christological commentary on Psalm 23 for children. The 11 chapter book uses the story of Sammy the sheep and his "discipleship" of Precious, a new sheep in Sammy's shepherd's flock, to highlight the attributes of the Good Shepherd and the many benefits He affords those in His sheepfold. Susan Hunt offers a verse-by-verse exposition of Psalm 23 in a story families will simply love!
Mark's Marvellous Book: Learning about Jesus through the Gospel
Author: Alan Mann
Publisher: Christian Focus Publications, 2015
Why we Love it: Coincidentally, I was reading through the book of Mark at the same time my husband and I were reading this book to our children. Comparing what I read in the Gospel of Mark to these summarized stories for children brought the book to life for me and added to my personal enjoyment of it. This book would serve well as your child's personal "commentary" to the Gospel of Mark. It does well in sharing who Jesus is and what He has accomplished on our behalf in a charming and child-friendly voice.
Publisher: Candle Books, 2010
Why we love it: The book is aimed at children ages 7 and older, taking them on an interactive tour of the book of Acts as they follow Paul in his missionary journeys. In addition to maps and notes on the Greco-Roman world, each chapter of the book comes with a letter, tacked within the pocket of the page, summarizing the theme of a Pauline epistle!
How God Changes People: Conversion Stories from the Bible
Author: Carine Mackenzie
Publisher: Christian Focus Publications , 2012
Why we love it: My prayer for my young children is true spiritual conversion -- not merely "good behavior." A book that traces the conversion stories of 28 diverse people in Scripture can help demonstrate the power of God's Word and Spirit to save and change hearts. This is a great book for your teaching library. Sadly, the illustrations could have been more reflective of Scripture's vision of God's diverse people (Revelation 7:9).
John Bunyan's Pilgrim Progress
Author: Story retold by Gary D. Schmidt (Illustrated by Barry Moser)
Publisher: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Compnay , 1994
Why we love it: I've written before on John Bunyan's 1675 allegorical tale of a Christian's journey home. Gary Schmidt shares that story with a contemporary audience. The vivid imagery of Schmidt's words, along with Barry Moser's illustrations (which portray characters within different historical eras and cultures) gives modern readers, like my daughters, a gripping version of Bunyan's classic work. My family has found this book helpful in teaching Christian perseverance and preservation by Christ.
Why we Love It: My children have enjoyed watching Owlegories, a "new animated series that teaches kids about God through the amazing things found in nature and revealed in God's Word!" The series is based on Psalm 19:1-4 and each episode addresses the theme of creation and "explores the nature of God as the Creator of the Universe through the use of allegories, metaphors and analogies." Episodes end with a brief explanation of the theme by a known teacher.
Important Topics in Discipleship
Little Hands Learning to Pray
Author: Carine Mackenzie
Publisher: Christian Focus Publications , 2010
Why we love it: This book served well as a family devotional for a number of weeks. It's 139 pages are divided into various chapters with stories of how people in the Bible spoke with God, distinguishing between prayers of adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication. Each story includes Scripture references, a question that focuses on the story, something to spot in the pictures and a main idea for the day. I recommend it and only wish the illustrations were more reflective of the diverse people of God (Revelation 7:9).
God's Very Good Idea: A True Story of God's Delightfully Different Family
Author: Trillia Newbell (illustrated by Catalina Echeverri)
Publisher: The Good Book Company, 2017
Why we love it: Before the foundation of the world, God had a very good idea -- dark, light, small, big, tall, wavy, curly, different tongues, different peoples, all made in His image, enjoying and loving Him! Why should we love and respect every person? Trillia Newbell answers the question with the big story of God's creation and redemption through Christ. This is a beautiful book that celebrates, in words and in pictures, God's good idea of diversity-- a must-have for your library and faithful gospel teaching and discipleship work.
God Made All of Me: A Book to Help Children Protect Their Bodies
Author: Justin S. Holcomb & Lindsey A. Holcomb
Publisher: New Growth Press, 2015
Why we love it: I've written an article on the usefulness of this book in equipping young children to protect themselves from potential sexual abuse. The book is recommended for children ages 2 to 8 and it gives needed guidance to parents in discussing sensitive topics with children--like private parts, inappropriate touches, and secrets--without losing the important message that our bodies are beautiful and good creations of God.
Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr.: A Simple Plan to Protect Young Minds
Author: Kristen A. Jenson, MA (Illustrated by Debbie Fox)
Publisher: Glen Cove Press, 2017
Why we love it: The book takes the heavy topic of pornography and creates a simple safeguard for children (preschool to about 6 years of age) and their parents. The book uses the uncomplicated theme of “pictures” to help children distinguish between “good pictures,” (those we see in photo albums, books, and fun movies) and “bad pictures” (images that show private parts of the body). These “bad pictures” are defined as “picture poison for your brain” and the book goes on to give children a three-step strategy to guard against this poison: Turn, Run and Tell. This is a helpful tool in our Ephesians 6:4 nurturing work.
Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids
Author: Kristen A. Jenson and Gail Poyner (Illustrated by Debbie Fox)
Publisher: Glen Cove Press, 2017
Why we love it: Good Pictures Bad Pictures is the “big brother” version of the book recommended above. This second book is written to an older child (age 7 and up). The book follows the same “good pictures vs. poison pictures” theme but this thicker version includes 9 chapters -- plus an introduction and glossary -- packed with easy to understand research on the effects of porn on the brain. Each chapter ends with a notes section where children can write their thoughts and lessons learned. The book also provides tips on helping the brain to “forget poison pictures” if a child has already encountered porn and like the Jr. version, older kids are given a strategy to help them defend against future toxic images. A helpful discipleship book in a post-Eden world.
SEEDS OF FAITH CDs and DVDs
Produced by: Seeds Family Worship
Why we Love It: Seeds of Faith puts Scripture to songs for children and families. To learn a Seeds of Faith song is to memorize a Scripture passage. The songs are well-done and fun to sing along with. But above all, they are useful for memorizing God's Word.
Torchlighters Series: Children's Heroes from Church History
Produced By: Christian History Institute
Why we Love It: The Torchlighters series is a fantastic resource for teaching "church family history" to children. These are animated, true-life stories of Christian heroes retold for young people (some of the stories are intense so parents may want to view them before showing to very young children). Each Torchlighter episode comes with a documentary and other features. You can order individual stories or a box set featuring the tales of some of the following Christians: Augustine, Gladys Aylward, Corrie Ten Boom, William Booth, John Bunyan, Amy Carmichael, Jim Elliot, Eric Liddell, Martin Luther, Samuel Morris, Perpetua, Robert J. Thomas, William Tyndale, John Wesley, Richard Wurmbrand, and Harriet Tubman.
Little Lights Series Christian Biographies
Author: Catherine Mackenzie
Publisher: Christian Focus Publications
Why we Love It: My family owns nearly all 14 books in the Little Lights Christian biography series. Mackenzie takes a theme from the life of a church history figure and traces it to demonstrate God's faithfulness to His people. The books are great for younger and slightly older (up to age 11) kids alike. Currently, the series features the following: Amy Carmichael, Hudson Taylor, Corrie Ten Boom, George Muller, Helen Roseveare, David Livingstone, John Calvin, Martin Luther, Eric Liddell, Mary Slessor, C.S. Lewis, John Knox, Lottie Moon, and Gladys Aylward. We have enjoyed these stories and would be encouraged by others that show God's faithfulness through His diverse church (Revelation 7:9)
The Littlest Watchman
Author: Scott James
Why we love it: Our family has enjoyed using the The Littlest Watchman Advent Calendar, a 25 day Advent 'Jesse Tree' devotional based on a storybook of a young watchman whose job is to watch God's promises prove true. This small Christmas story is packed with amazing biblical theology and illustrations that I believe honor Revelation 7:9's vision of a diverse church.
The Plan: How God Got the World Ready for Jesus
Author: Sinclair Ferguson
Why we love it: The birth of Christ was a plan established before the foundation of the world. This book helps children to see this glorious truth as it follows the various characters and events leading up to the birth of the Savior.
Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story
Author: Sally Lloyd-Jones
Why we love it: Sally Lloyd-Jones has a gift with words, she writes truth with a voice that reads like poetry for children. This beautiful Christmas book is likely to inspire your own praise as you follow creation's worship of the newborn Christ.
The Christmas Story
Author: Carine MacKenie
Why we love it: This 19 chapter book begins in Genesis and traces the story of the incarnation, helping children to discover who needs to be saved and how one special Child came to be Savior.
Why Do We Call It Christmas?
Produced By: Phil Vischer, JellyTelly
Why we love it: "Where do we get the word Christmas? When was Jesus born? What do Christmas trees have to do with Jesus? Who is St. Nicholas? What is Hanukkah? Who is Emmanuel?" This 60-minute video sets out to address the above and takes young viewers (and the parents) on an entertaining and informative adventure, providing helpful answers along the way.