I have a pet peeve for most kids’ sections of Christian bookstores. Oh, I like VegiTales, but it feels like there is a totally different theology to a lot of it: works.
Be good to your siblings, obey your parents, love your neighbor, God loves you when you are good.
So many of the family devotionals out there are based on this premise. Don’t misunderstand me. I think character training for kids is one of the most important things parents do. It’s good to teach them right from wrong. It’s just that as a good Lutheran, I like both the law and gospel to be preached, and I’m not a fan when the law is preached and the gospel is ignored.
I feel like we need to up the theological standard for kids’ books. Apparently I’m not the only one, because there’s some good ones out there.
Leading Little Ones to God This is appropriate for preschool on up through elementary school, though I have to admit I got something out of it too. This book covers the basics of our Christian faith from talking about who God is, what are his qualities, what is sin, and how does God address our sin. The lessons are very short, using simple language, and surprisingly it’s full of depth. The illustrations are quite dated, but if you can get past that, you’ll find a ton of treasure there.
Jesus Storybook Bible This book is as good as everyone says it is. It does not have daily readings. It does have chapters/individual Bible stories that you can read to your kids. Like many other parents, I cried when I first read this book with my kids. OK, I sobbed. This book is so beautiful in so many ways, and lays out how deeply God loves us and the great lengths he took to rescue us. I would read this book by myself, but the kids are crazy about it too. I love this family devotional.
24 Family Ways This is not the book that spells out the gospel to the kids, and yet I love it. It’s more a rooting of one’s identity. We are God’s he has saved us, you are part of this family, and in this family, these are the things that are important to us. It addresses so many issues common to families, and gives the Scriptural support for why we do things the way we do them. There are some great discussion questions in here.
The Young Peacemaker This book is very good for upper-elementary, and into jr. high age, though I did it with all my kids and they survived. The kids’ favorite part was the hilarious comics in the workbooks I printed off the CD that came with them. My favorite part was how it digs into the nitty gritty of grace and forgiveness. So if God calls us to forgive, does that mean we should forget? What about trust? What does God call you to do if you were the injured one? What about if you are the offender? What if the other person doesn’t want reconciliation? When we forgive, are there still consequences? Why is it if you break a window, and ask forgiveness, that you still have to pay for the window you broke? This is a Biblically grounded book on conflict resolution, and I can’t think of a single family that doesn’t want more of that.
Heaven for Kids This book isn’t as much about law and gospel as much as it is fact vs fiction. Various cultures have influenced what we think about heaven. I think this is especially true of cartoons, and the idea that we will all sit on clouds playing a harp with angel wings. This is a book that walks kids through what the Bible actually says about heaven, and what the Bible does not say about heaven. It just takes the kids right to the source. Although, this isn’t as foundational as other books listed, my kids really enjoyed this book, because…they want to know. They found it really interesting. It’s broken into chapters, not daily readings, and it might be best for older elementary through jr. high as well. It’s fully acceptable for younger ages, though perhaps not as engaging.
I would love to hear from you all. I’m always looking for new quality titles. What are your favorite family devotionals?