Saturday, October 22, 2011

Favorite Christian Picture Books for Children

Photo:  Microsoft Images
What could be cozier than cuddling on the couch together or snuggling under the covers at bedtime to read a book with your child?  In those sweet moments, your child’s heart is open and receptive.  Some of my fondest memories of childhood are memories of my mother reading to me.  I sincerely hope that someday my boys will reflect on the memories of our time reading together with as much tenderness.

I thought it would be fun to talk about some of our favorite picture books with Christian themes.  Please comment and share your favorites as well.

Any discussion of favorite Christian authors seems incomplete without including Max Lucado.  Many of his children’s stories are so rich that the content is very appropriate for older children as well.  (If your older child thinks that picture books are too babyish for himself, you may want to suggest that he read some of these books to a younger sibling or friend.)  Max Lucado has written so many beautiful children’s stories that it is difficult to distill our collection down to our absolute favorites.  Here are the ones I chose:

The Oak Inside the Acorn (Novel) by Max Lucado
Little Acorn sees other trees as something special.  Despite his fears and inadequacies, Little Acorn does his best and in the end finds the truth in his mother’s words: “Within you is a great oak.  Just be the tree that God made you to be.”

The Way Home: A Princess Story by Max Lucado
Here is one princess story that both my boys enjoyed!  Full of danger and adventure, it tells the tale of a princess who is lured by deceit and her intrigue about the Lowlanders.  Her father comes to rescue her, and she needs to put all her trust in him.  This is an allegorical tale that will have richer meaning for an older child but can still be enjoyed by a young child.

The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado
The little lamb in this story feels inferior to the other sheep because he walks with a limp.  He is removed from the pasture and put in a barn, which makes him very sad.  At the conclusion of the story, he realizes that his bad leg allows him to do something that none of the other sheep can—welcome baby Jesus.

Other favorite picture books for our family include:

The Squire and the Scroll: A Tale of the Rewards of a Pure Heart [With CD (Audio)] by Jenie Bishop
A boy is sent on a dangerous quest to help save his kingdom.  As a guide, he is given a scroll of ancient words to help him.  He follows the instructions on the scroll, keeping his heart pure and avoiding many perils.  This allegory is innocent enough to read to a very young child, though an older child will better understand the symbolism and deeper meaning.  The Princess and the Kiss: A Story of God's Gift of Purity [With CD (Audio)] is a parallel story written for young girls. Companion books are available: Life Lessons from the Squire and the Scroll (Revive Our Hearts) and Life Lessons from the Princess and the Kiss (Revive Our Hearts).   We enjoyed this story when my son was 5, but we are planning to make a fun study out of it again in a few years by using the companion book and these printables from the Guesthollow blog. Printables for The Princess Kiss are available from Homeschoolblogger.

What is God Like? by Beverly Lewis
A father tells his children, "Even when I'm not here, God is always with you."  As they go about their daily routine, the brother and sister remember things know about God.  This book communicates how awesome and powerful God is while also conveying His concern for the small details of our lives.

God Gave Us Love  by Lisa Tawn Bergren
The God Gave Us . . .  series is told from the perspective of Little Cub, a curious polar bear.  A particular favorite is God Gave Us Love in which Little Cub is irritated by some annoying seals.  Grampa Bear explains that we need to share God’s love with others—even those who are annoying.  It’s a very cute approach to a spiritual lesson about a situation that every child faces at one time or another.

If Jesus Came to My House (reillustrated) (HarperBlessings) by Joan Gale Thomas
A boy imagines what it would be like if the boy Jesus came to visit.  He would no longer be afraid of the shadows at night.  He would pick flowers for Jesus and share his toys with him.  Of course, he realizes that the boy Jesus cannot visit him.  But he knows that he can talk with Jesus and that Jesus is with him so there is no need to fear the shadows.  This picture book is a sweet gentle way to teach your children the meaning of the verse “What you did unto the least of these . . . you did unto Me. (Matthew 25:34-40).

Five-Minute Devotions for Children: Celebrating God's World as a Family by Pamela Kennedy
This is really a devotional rather than a picture book, but I couldn’t leave it out because has read and re-read it with so much delight.  Children seem to be naturally drawn to animals.  On each page of these books is a paragraph about a particular animal and their unique characteristics.  A second paragraph draws a parallel to a specific character trait we need to develop or to God’s own nature.  There are fun colorful illustrations, a relevant Bible verse.  The questions provided for you to ask your child are well designed to help the child see the real life application of the Biblical lesson without feeling put on the spot.  If you enjoy this book, you'll also want to read More Five Minute Devotions for Children: Celebrating God's World As A Family.

His Mighty Warrior: A Treasure Map from Your King by Sheri Rose Shepherd
This is another book that is closer to a devotional than a story book.  It’s a collection of letters from God to a young boy.  The first letter begins “My Son, I have chosen you to do something great for my kingdom.  You are not just a boy—you are the child of the King, and I am your Father in heaven.  I want you to know that I am the same God who chose King David when he was just a little boy, and I have chosen you to show the world who I am. . . .Never forget who you are or who I am, and you will become a strong and mighty warrior for me.”  The illustrations are pirate-themed, and most of the letters center around a particular character trait.  What makes the book so special is the intimacy conveyed in the letters.  Beside each letter is a Bible verse and a short prayer.  Each letter is about a paragraph—very quick bedtime reading to help your child develop a deeper connection with God.  His Little Princess: Treasured Letters from Your King (His Princess)is a parallel book written especially for girls.

What are some of your favorite Christian picture books?

Photo: Bennewitz


  1. We have A Little Boy after God's own Heart by Jim & Elizabeth George. It uses a train theme and the fruit(s) of the spirit in a practical way.

  2. Has anyone read Will, God's Mighty Warrior by Sheila Walsh?

  3. I've heard of Little Boy After God's Own Heart, but we don't have it. It sounds like it would be a great book for us! Trains are a pretty big deal with our boys! :)

    I'm also curious about Will, God's Mighty Warrior! I hadn't heard of it before, but the Amazon reviews look great. I'm glad you mentioned it!

  4. Thanks for stopping by Training Happy Hearts an leaving a comment linking here. There are some titles here I have not heard of and will look forward to exploring.