Now I find such an abundance of titles with such a weight of care and a depth of gospel profundity behind them that I throw my hands in the air, overwhelmed with the selection! Here we are, at our third installation of gift recommendations, with less than two weeks of shopping days left before Christmas, and I’ve saved the books for last. I’m glad I did, because in so doing, I’ve found not only great titles to recommend, but just in time, as the sales are ramping up to make the purchasing easier!
Let’s begin with Bibles for children.
Most recently, The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones has been the go-to gift for families with new babies. On the simplest level, the illustrations are whimsical without being otherworldly and unattainable. But more deeply, it is a Bible story book that wraps the whole history of God’s dealing with His people – Old and New Testament – around the redemptive work of Christ. Tullian Tchividjian comments, “Even though it’s a children’s Bible, The Jesus Storybook Bible is, in my opinion, one of the best resources available to help both children and adults see the Jesus-centered story line of the Bible” (TGC)
“Since its release in 2007, The Jesus Storybook Bible has become a must-have for children and adults and has grown into a brand that includes: a large trim Read-Aloud edition, an ebook for large and small group presentations, a bilingual Spanish/English edition, a complete curriculum kit, and a Deluxe Edition which includes the book on audio CD, read by award-winning British actor David Suchet” (from the website). In addition, ready to ship on December 20, The Jesus Storybook Bible Animated DVD in 4 volumes, from Christianbook.com.
Notwithstanding this delightful, recent entry into the field for children’s Bibles, I can’t bypass mention of the storybook series that was our children’s favorite: The Child’s Story Bible by Catherine Vos, published by Banner of Truth Trust. This is a three-volume set (2 books for the Old Testament, 1 book for the New Testament) with straightforward retelling of the events that the people of God encountered through redemptive history.
Grace and Truth Books packages some delightful sets for children and families focusing on character-building stories:
- The Children’s Character Building Series: an 11-volume set of books from the 19th century, recently redesigned covers with original paintings, 4th-5th grade reading level
- Ten Boys Who: Boxed set of 5 volumes, each with 10 stories about boys who made history, used their talents, made a difference, changed the world, or didn’t give in.
- Ten Girls Who: Also a boxed set of 5 volumes, each with 10 stories about girls who made history, used their talents, made a difference, changed the world, or didn’t give in
Besides these boxed sets, Grace and Truth is an outstanding source for Puritan and Reformed Baptist treasures for children, such as these:
- The Two Bears, by J.C. Ryle
- How a Spider Saved a Man’s Life and 51 Other Great Spurgeon Stories and
- The Milk’s Been Stolen Again! And 51 Other Great Spurgeon Stories (volume 2)
This is as good a time as any to recommend one of my all-time favorite and most compelling stories: The Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan. (You knew it was coming!) Banner of Truth Trust publishes the finest edition of Bunyan’s work, in a beautiful hardbound edition with the allegorist’s notes in the margins to provide a peek into the Scripturally-bound thinking that informed the creative illustration of the journey of a believer to the Celestial City. But if a more child-friendly version is desired, consider The Little Pilgrim’s Progress, which takes the perspective of a child facing child-like temptations and desires in the world, but needing the strength and compassion of a great and mighty and compassionate Savior-King.
For family devotions, let’s begin with a gift set from Children Desiring God, available only through Friday, December 13, at a special price of $30. This set of books covers God’s Names, God’s Promises and God’s Providence and can be used for family devotions or as a personal study for older children.
In The Doctrines of Grace: Student Edition, Shane Lewis targets the teenage reader, explaining the Five Points of Calvinism, their biblical and historical basis and their application, in twelve short lessons with discussion questions.
And finally, since we are working to order our Sunday School instruction around the word of God while utilizing the framework of the children’s catechism, there are some delightful and engaging cartoon books published by Vic Lockman, that invite even the frozenest of the chosen to smile at the pictures while the great truths are being taught. If you are looking to the New Year with a renewed intent and interest in regular family worship and catechizing of your children but are not quite sure how to make it work around schedules or with young ones, browse through the Eight Books for Family Devotional Times recommended by Timothy Paul Jones at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The materials include Adam Murell’s The Young Baptist’s Catechism, Mike Nappa’s offerings on family nights, basic Christian beliefs and wisdom life skills, Bruce Ware’s Big Truths for Young Hearts, and Donald Whitney’s Family Worship.
Hopefully you will have time and opportunity to take advantage of some of these deals and specials – at the very least, the free shipping some of the publishers are offering during this season of gift buying and giving.
But more than just a nose for the deals, we desire you to develop in your own heart the hunger and vision to equip and train your children with Biblical foundations and perspectives. As Peter Gentry expresses at the SBTS website in his article, “Raising Children, the Christian Way,”
If we were inside a building looking out through a clear glass window, I might ask you, “Well, tell me what you see when you look outside?” You might begin by describing the grass and the trees and the vehicles on the street. Now wouldn’t you find it odd or strange if I asked, “Well, did you see the window?” One doesn’t talk about the window. Instead one sees the world through it. And yet, in the end, it is the window that is passed on and transferred to the child. They will see the world through the window that we give them. We must make sure that our minds are so filled and saturated with the Scripture that our world-and-life-view is completely shaped by the biblical teaching.
What kind of window are you passing on to your children?