Holiday Gift Guide: Faith Formation Edition
One of our favorite things to do here at Play Eat Grow is to equip parents with great resources. We know that families are busy and the last thing many parents want to do is spend a hundred hours scouring the internet for the perfect gift.
Weirdly, we LOVE it.
Each year we do gift guides a little bit differently, and so this year, we’re creating 4 guides based on interests:
Next up: Faith Formation Edition
While “Faith Formation Edition” doesn’t have as nice of a ring to it as the others in the series so far, this topic is one that parents are consistently asking me about. What are some good christian books for kids?
The average christian book for kids is not that great. Often they are either poorly illustrated or poorly written (or sometimes both). BUT, my friends, we have dug through the rough to find the diamonds, which I present to you today.
Please note: not all of these resources are intended for you to wrap up and put under the tree. Some of them are meant to be tools for you to help your kids grow. So it’s still a gift for your child, just in a roundabout way :).
This set of books is designed to equip parents to talk about Scripture with your kids. This series helps you walk through the Bible with your kids over the course of 12 years. So far they have years 1-4 out, but as far as I know, they are making more! Our family likes it because Telling God’s Story helps our family see the Bible as a giant story, not a collection of moral lessons.
Year One: Meeting Jesus
Year Two: The Kingdom of Heaven
Year Three: The Unexpected Way
For each year, there are three parts:
- Parent’s Guide: This is an overview to the entire curriculum, and it helps parents understand the Bible as a story, in addition to how to present this story-oriented approach to your children. Reading this is step one :).
- Instructor Text & Teaching Guide: Each year has its own instructor’s book, which is a lesson-by-lesson guide that parents can use to teach their kids. This book helps parents teach through the assigned text for the week by providing the Bible passage, a “What the Parent Should Know” section and then a read aloud section that helps kids to relate the story of scripture to their everyday lives. Don’t be intimidated– it’s a thin book that gives you what you need but without a lot of fluff. Each lesson is just a few pages.
- Student Guide & Activity Pages: For each lesson, there are several optional hands-on activities to do with the kids. They differ week-by-week, but include games, coloring pages, crafts, cooking ideas, and memory work. For our family, we consider how much time we have that week, and then choose a couple that look interesting.
A couple of years ago, we realized that our kids didn’t have as wide of a Bible knowledge as we expected them to… which is fine, Bible knowledge isn’t everything. But when our kids started asking us to teach them the Bible in a deeper way, we knew that we needed something that had some depth, but wasn’t going to be overwhelming. We’re in year one, but so far the whole family is really enjoying it.
You guys, if you have preschoolers or kids in early elementary, you gotta try this! This Advent devotional for kids is THE BEST. When our kids were ages 2-7, we used this for a couple of years in a row. Basically, you read a short passage of Scripture and make an ornament based on what you read. The best part is that you don’t really have to buy anything — they are all made from materials you probably have lying around the house. We kept many of our ornaments because they ended up being genuinely cute.
For those of you with older kids, one of the ways we’ve encouraged our kids to interact with the Bible is by giving them a Bible journaling kit. This particular kit from Faber Castell comes with an instruction book, stencils, stickers, pens, highlighters, stickers, gelato pens that are designed to not leak through the thin pages. We tell them they can mark up their Bibles! Find something interesting? Highlight it! Write about why it stuck out in the margins! While I’m sure there are other kits on the market, this one is such good quality and the price is hard to beat.
A couple of our kids seem to engage better with the Bible when they can respond through writing and drawing, so we bought this journaling Bible (pairing it with the kit above). The margins are wide to allow for doodling, text, etc. We been moving our kids to the NIV (as opposed to the NIrV) around 4th grade and it’s worked out well.
What was the 1st century world like? The World Jesus Knew teaches kids about the Jewish culture, customs, and geography of the day so they can better understand the Bible. It’s written in a down-to-earth style that kids can connect with, and it also includes fantastic illustrations!
Preteen girls can connect to the Bible through studying 17 women who have leaned into following God’s voice in their lives. Grit and Grace is for young women who long to know how they fit into God’s kingdom, and how to do good in the world around them. This devotional includes reflection questions and action steps.
I promise you that if you leave this book in the bathroom, your tween will absolutely read it. From the Publisher: “Finding time for devotions with God isn’t always easy. But what if you could attach something you know you should do, to something you already do? You spend at least five minutes sitting on the toilet every day, right? What if you used that time to do devotions?
Don’t Forget to Flush is geared toward kids ages 9 to 12 years old. It’s written from the perspective of a snarky preteen boy, and guys, it’s funny (and good!).
From the author of Jesus Storybook Bible, this set of 101 beautifully illustrated devotions will be a great springboard for discussions about God’s wild grace and maddening love for His children. The deluxe version includes an audio CD if you’d rather listen together.
Called and Courageous Picture Book series
The Called and Courageous Girls series spotlights examples of faithful women who have responded to God’s calling to discover who He is and how they have used their gifts and passions to be on an adventure with Him. So far they have book about Deborah, Miriam, and Priscilla. While these are picture books, they are longer in nature, so I’d recommend them for elementary-aged kids.
Jake and I were Randall Goodgame fans from our early college days, long before Randall was making kids music. 🙂 Randall has a folky style that’s super fun and incredibly intentional. Our kids like to listen to this music as they fall asleep, which I love because it’s helping to focus their mind on the music (which is based on Scripture) instead of the worries that can creep into our brains at night.
What’s in the Bible? walks families through the entire story of Scripture over the course of 13 DVDs (2 episodes on each DVD). I love that it gives the kids a wide breadth of what is in the Bible, without getting caught up in the nitty-gritty details. They can go back and fill those in later :). We used these DVD sets when our kids were late preschool/early elementary as a sort of weekly family Bible study. On Wednesday nights, we’d gather together, watch an episode, talk about what we learned while the kids colored a picture that went along with the lesson (available for free on the website!), and ate a treat.
Thanks to Faber-Castell, Olive Branch Publishers, Sparkhouse Family, and Harvest House Publishers for partnering with me on this post! They provided a couple of products for me to review (at my request). It’s important to us to only recommend products we love because we know that every dollar counts!