Recently, a friend asked what I would suggest they read with their kids, particularly their young kids (age 4 and up). Here’s what I suggested:
(1) The Jesus Storybook Bible – excellent for catching the BIG story of GOD.
(2) Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing – great little devo thoughts to talk about together.
(3) The Gospel Story Bible – more indepth than the Jesus Storybook Bible and a good follow up to it.
By the way – you will want to read these first three over and over again for a few years. Very engaging and steeped in Truth.
(4) John 1-3 – Like Peterson says in his translation of Deuteronomy 6, “Get the Word in you then get it in your kids.” There is no better section of Scripture for kids to begin learning than John 1-3. Tell them you want to memorize it with them together over the course of age 4 to 18. All three chapters. You will be surprised at how quickly kids picks it up if you take a relaxed approach reading a verse or two at a time. Reread from the beginning each time, asking kids to say the verse from verse one up to where you are. At age 3, one child was quoting the first 14 verses just from hearing her parents read it together with the older kids. This is “hiding the Word in their heart.”
(5) Depending on what age you want to read weightier content with kids, because if you read them early you will definitely want to read them again around age 11-13, all 6 Narnia books are amazing with lots to discuss. The 3 books from Andrew Peterson’s The WingFeather Saga are, too!
(6) Some short reads – The Giving Tree, The Three Trees, The Lord’s Prayer (Warren), Frog and Toad collection, Hermie collection.
Just remember that no matter what you read and at whatever age you read it, your focus and resulting conversation should always boast in the cross and revolve around the gospel of Jesus. We never quit needing to stand in and grow in and remember the gospel. Consider what Jonathan Dodson wrote in Gospel-Centered Discipleship:
“The gospel is for not-yet disciples and already disciples. The gospel people believe to be baptized is the same gospel people believe to be sanctified (through the work of the Holy Spirit). Followers of Jesus make and mature disciples by going with the gospel, baptizing disciples into gospel community, and teaching the gospel…Jesus is the ground of our going, the goal of our baptizing, and the gospel of our teaching. Making disciples is radically Jesus centered.”
May we remember this as we grow kids with grace and send kids with gospel.