As a parent, I spend a fair amount of time reading books with our kids – so much so that there are some books I can almost recite in full without opening the book! That may well be the same in your house, or it may be that reading is something that doesn’t form part of your daily pattern. Whichever category you are in, here are two books that point to Jesus that have become firm favourites in our household recently. Both of them are short (about 5 minutes to read) and are really visually engaging.
Wherever you go, I want you to know… (probably best for kids aged 2-5)
As a parent, what is your greatest desire for your child? What is it that you pray for them above all things? There are lots of things that compete in my heart to be the answer to that question. I want my children to grow up happy and safe. I want them to be well, both physically and mentally. I want them to make good friendships and do well at school. But I know ultimately, the best thing is for them to know Jesus and spend their life walking with Him.
It is that desire that this book is all about. The book is written as a parent talking to their child (which makes it perfect to read to your kids). It runs through lots of different things that could happen as you grow up (like what job you’ll do or where you’ll live). But the recurring theme is that, whatever happens, the parent has one desire above all. That desire is that their child will come to know Jesus and follow Him whatever else life brings. Here are 4 reasons I love reading this one:
It resets my priorities – reading this book reminds me what my greatest priority for my kids ought to be and challenges me for where I fall short
It allows me to articulate my desire for my kids – this book vocalises that desire of my heart better than I can and provides a natural way for me to say that to my kids
It rhymes – any book that rhymes is more enjoyable to read, why else is the Gruffalo so successful? But rhyming books are also easier to remember, which we pray means these words are embedding deeply into our kids’ hearts
It speaks of Jesus’ character and work – in very few words, this book shows who Jesus is and what He’s done. Because that bit is short and rhymes, my daughter can remember that Jesus “made you, He loves you, He’s good, kind, and true. Jesus brings joy, whatever you do.”
The God Contest (probably best for kids aged 4-8)
Rather than taking a theme, this book is primarily about an event from the Bible. It’s the time when Elijah and Baal worshippers go up Mount Carmel and God sets fire to an altar to prove He alone is God (a story that finds its way into most kids’ Bibles). In super accessible language, this book frames that story as a ‘God contest’, a contest to find out who the real God is. It places everyone in one of 2 teams, Team Yahweh or Team Baal. And it shows that Yahweh, the God of the Bible, alone is God.
But it doesn’t stop there. Instead, it takes us through Scripture to Jesus’ coming and His death and resurrection. Both again are framed as times where God shows Himself to be the real God, and that the resurrection is the final contest, proving it once and for all. It then finishes with lots of people, from all over the world and all through history, joining Team Yahweh. Here are 4 reasons this is great:
It uses simple language to explain being a Christian – being a Christian is talked of in terms of ‘joining Team Jesus’ which is super easy for a child to grasp
It gives a compelling reason to be a Christian – being a Christian means joining the winning team
It’s realistic – the book regularly mentions people refusing to join Team Yahweh/Jesus so helps kids to understand that not everyone will become a Christian
It ends with application – the final words say this: “So everybody has to make their minds up. Will they join Team Jesus? What will you decide?” This has proved such an easy way to start conversations around being a Christian
Before you dive in (and I hope you will!), here are two reality checks and a top tip:
Reading books with kids is not idyllic! Sometimes they refuse, sometimes they demand a book you are bored of. It takes work but the work is so worth it.
Some books grip kids, some don’t and there’s no rhyme or reason. We have bought lots of books over the last few years. Some have stuck and we read them regularly (watch out for others on future posts). Others that I love have completely flopped. That means if one doesn’t work, don’t give up altogether – instead try another!
Both of these books have full read-throughs on YouTube if you want to try before you buy.
The God Contest promo - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ber8X7WUt3o
Wherever You Go promo - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcHz0-PchUg
- Ben Goldenberg, Church Member