By Todd R. Hains
12.02.2022 | Min Read

Parents of young children feel the pressure of Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he shall not depart from it.” This word of encouragement can easily be twisted to a word of guilt—as if my children’s belief in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and their love for his word and his saints is all up to me. 

But there’s good news: you, dear parent, you are not alone! God has given you his word, and wherever God's word is, there Jesus is! God is with you in his word. 

Here are five books that can help you give your children the word of God and the faith that comes through hearing the word of God (Rom. 10:17). Make a routine of reading books like these—or the very words of the Bible—with your children. You may not see it right away, but you’re planting the seeds of God’s word in your children’s heart (Mk. 4:26–32; Is. 55:10–11).

1. The Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible 

Age range: 2–5 years old (Click to View Product)

There’s no shortage of children’s storybook Bibles, but The Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible stands out among the crowd. In short, friendly, and bright prose, Jared Kennedy recounts fifty-two Bible stories (twenty-six from the Old Testament and twenty-six from the New Testament). Every story ends by pointing to Jesus: how does this story show our Lord Jesus and the good news that he forgives our sins and gives us his life through his death and resurrection. Trish Mahoney’s vibrant illustrations provide children enough to look at and wonder while they listen.

Each story takes about two minutes to read, so it’s easy to read a whole story every day. (Although my own children like to interact with some of the stories and so sometimes it’s more like three or four minutes.) Jared’s words help draw out the reader in every parent—helping us to read with energy and excitement. 

2. Jesus and the Lions’ Den: A True Story about How Daniel Points Us to Jesus 

Age range: 3–6 years old (Click to View Product)

Each book in the The Good Book Company’s Tales That Tell the Truth series presents a simple and friendly biblical theology—sometimes by telling a specific Bible story (e.g. when Jesus calmed the storm), sometimes by presenting the full arc of the Bible (e.g. creation, fall, redemption), sometimes by focusing on a Christian practice (e.g. prayer). All of the books are filled with Catalina Echeverri’s vibrant colors and inviting imagery!

In Jesus and the Lion’s Den, Alison Mitchell shows children and their parents how to read the Bible as a book that gives us Jesus. Mitchell walks through the story of Daniel being sent to and delivered from the lions’ den. Throughout the story Escheverri has hidden a lion symbol that lets readers know a “Jesus moment” is present. The book ends by setting each Jesus moment in the story of Daniel next to a story from Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Now parents and their children can try finding the Jesus moments in the Bible on their own! 

3. The Lord’s Prayer: For All God’s Children (A FatCat Book)

Age range: 4–8 years old (Click to View Product)

“How do I teach the Christian faith and message of the Bible?” is not a new question. The church’s answer has always been “with the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer.” These three texts are known as the catechism. FatCat presents the catechism in a new and friendly way to Christians today.

In The Lord’s Prayer, Harold Senkbeil offers a simple, tender, and pastoral explanation of each petition of the Lord’s Prayer, concluding with a simple prayer: “Our Father in heaven, you love us just like you love Jesus.” Natasha Kennedy has marvelously illustrated each petition of the Lord’s Prayer with a story from Jesus’ life. Oh, and there’s a corpulent cat hidden throughout the book.

4. Arch Books Treasury: Vintage Collection, 1964–1965

Age range: 5–9 years old

Even if you’re not familiar with Concordia Publishing House, you’ve likely seen one of the Arch Books. For nearly sixty years Concordia has made more than 100 little booklets that present Bible stories to children. There’s a host of authors and illustrators. Some of the books are rhymed, some are not; the artistic styles vary greatly.Some of the individual booklets have been gathered into four treasuries of twelve booklets each. These books give parents words for the dear stories of the Bible as well as the hard stories of the Bible.

I have fond memories of reading the first dozen Arch stories with my sons. They loved the great surprise of Zacchaeus (a tax collector who gives money away?!), counting and naming the wares in Jesus’ parable of the talents, finding Baby Baa in Jesus’ parable of the Good Shepherd, and singing “Be Near Me, Lord Jesus” after the Nativity story. My sons even asked that I mark each story with paper tabs so that they could read them in bed at night, flashlights in hand. 

5. The Psalms 

Click to View Product

(Additionally, ESV Scripture Journal: Psalms; New Coverdale Psalter, also available in the 2019 Book of Common Prayer)

The Psalms give voice to our faith and love, our doubt and fear, our joy and sadness. The sixteenth-century French Reformer John Calvin famously called the Psalms an anatomy of the soul. The fourth-century Egyptian bishop Athanasius called the Psalms a garden that grows all the produce of the Bible. The Psalms give us words when we’re not sure what to say or even feel. And that’s part of parents’ task in family discipleship: to help give their children words.

In our house, at different times of the day I ask the boys to choose what psalm they would like to hear. I’ve introduced the psalms that we read by the opening few words rather than the number (although now that they’re older they’re very interested in knowing what number a psalm is). 

In the morning when they awake, they choose from:

  • Clap Your Hands (Ps. 47)

  • The Lord Is King (Ps. 93)

  • Come Let Us Sing (Ps. 95)

  • Joyful in the Lord (Ps. 100)

    After dinner when we read our Bible story, they choose from a bigger list of psalms:

    • The Lord Is Our Governor (Ps. 8)

    • The Lord Is My Shepherd (Ps. 23)

    • God Be Merciful to Us (Ps. 67)

    • Make Haste, O God (Ps. 70)

    • Praise the Lord (Ps. 111)

    • Your Word Is Firmly Set in the Heavens (Ps. 119:89–96)

    • And more! (The morning psalms can be repeated after dinner, too.)

    In the evening when they go to sleep, they choose from:

    • The Lord Is My Shepherd (Ps. 23)

    • I Lift My Eyes to the Hills (Ps. 121)

    • Out of the Depths I Cry (Ps. 130)

    It's been fun to see what psalms each child gravitates to. They also find times in their own lives for certain psalms. For example, one Christmas my older son was very sick, and I asked him if I might pray a psalm with him. He croaked, “‘Out of the Depths,’ please.” There was a stretch where the boys were very scared of the dark. And so we added a check-in psalm: Where Will I Go From Your Spirit (Ps. 139:7–12).

    Wherever God’s Word Is, There Is All of Jesus

    Dear parent, God has given you his word so that you might be instructed and have hope through the endurance and encouragement of the word (Rom. 15:4). And this is the instruction and hope that your dear children need: the instruction and hope of God’s word. Wherever God’s word is, there is all of Jesus—God for you—and his gifts of forgiveness, salvation, and life, and his mighty host of angels and saints. With God’s word—no matter what we see or feel—we are never alone. “You, O LORD, are in the midst of us, and we are called by your name; do not leave us” (Jer. 14:9).