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Episode 178: Great Books to use for Discipleship with Children and Teens

In this episode we discuss lots of board books, picture books, and books for older kids, teens, and adults that help with discipleship. We’re sure these books will spark many great conversations.

Show Notes and Links:

00:10 – Introduction
00:47 – Building Character Through Picture Books


01:35 – Baby Believers series

Helping a child with doubts about salvation

04:18 – Strong: Psalm 1

05:25 – Nothing

Natalee Creech episode


06:07 – Jesus Rose for Me

06:53 – Fat Cat Series

What is a catechism?

07:39 – Tales that Tell the Truth series

The Prisoner’s Earthquake and the Midnight Song

Jesus and the Very Big Surprise

The Garden, the Curtain, and the Cross

Lent and Easter Episode

Anytime, Any Place, Any Prayer


08:36 – I See Jesus

08:56 – What Is Truth?

09:24 – God Made Me for Worship

09:45 – The importance of taking our children to church

11:02 – The Promise

11:27 – Read It, See It, Say It, Sing It: Knowing and Loving the Bible

11:43 – Where Is Wisdom: A Treasure Hunt through God’s Wondrous Word

12:14 – Oh, the Seeds You Can Sow: A Tale of Growing Kindness

12:36 – Something: One Small Thing Can Make a Difference

12:57 – In Jesus’ Name I Pray

13:21 – His Grace Is Enough: How God Makes It Right When We’ve Got It Wrong

Wherever You Go, I Want You to Know

13:51 – God Made Boys and Girls: Helping Children Understand the Gift of Gender

16:29 – Jesus and My Gender


17:51 – Jesus Loves Me

The Acrostic of Jesus

18:16 – The Radical Book for Kids

The Really Radical Book for Kids

18:40 – Doubtless: Because Faith Is Hard

19:49 – Stand Up, Stand Strong: A Call to Bold Faith in a Confused Culture

Sarah Barratt episode


19:55 – Anything: The Prayer that Unlocked My God and My Soul

20:08 – Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire

20:17 – Prayer

20:40 – Abide in Christ

With Christ in the School of Prayer

20:44 – A. W. Tozer


20:51 – Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret

21:02 – All That’s Good

21:08 – Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes

21:13 – Family Discipleship

21:20 – The Prayer Saturated Family

Prayer Saturated Kids

21:46 – The Spiritual Warfare Answer Book

The Bondage Breaker

22:44 –

Books Discussed in This Episode:


Welcome to “Books That Spark,” a podcast for parents and caregivers, celebrating books that help us with everyday discipleship every day, sparking important conversations with our children. I am so excited to share with you some wonderful books. I will give you a warning, I’m sharing a lot of books today. The reason I wanted to share so many books is I want to talk about some Christian market books that deal with topics that are essential to discipling our children. So these are some wonderful picture books and also some books for the parents that will help us with discipleship, with our own discipleship, but with discipling our children.

I want to encourage you that even if you have children who are older, if you have younger children and you’re reading a picture book to them about some of these topics include the whole family, just like I do in my devotional book, Building Character Through Picture Books. In that one, I use general market books to show how we can use those to disciple our children, but I also just take the time to include questions for the older kids as well so that they can be involved in the story time and the discussion. The wonderful thing is that I don’t care how old a kid is, I really believe they still like picture books most of the time. We enjoy them, especially if we read them as little kids. It brings back wonderful memories, and you can still include older kids when you’re talking about these topics and when we’re reading these fantastic picture books.

So let’s jump in and talk about them. I’m going to start with some board books. Now I know you know I’ve mentioned Baby Believers for a long time on all my episodes about anything to do with children growing in their faith and starting from birth to talk about these things. The thing that is so interesting about these books, they deal with concepts of our faith, of the holy week, of just general doctrine that we want our kids to learn, and of course, they’re not going to fully understand that as we read a board book to them, but they begin to internalize those ideas. They begin to get used to those words, and as they grow, we can explain more deeply and this will help our children to kind of grow into their faith. It’s a wonderful thing to watch a child grow into their faith, depending which church you’ve grown up in. We sometimes think a child just comes to a point where all of a sudden their eyes are open, Jesus is calling them, and they walk the aisle, pray a prayer and become a Christian. For some it happens that way for me, it happened that way, but for others, they can’t even pinpoint the exact moment they truly understood. Because by little steps they would begin to pray what they understood, they would begin to believe what they could believe, and they grew into their faith. The thing with that that is difficult is they can’t pinpoint that moment when they truly believed; they just know that they do truly believe. If your child is doubting because they were so young when they prayed a prayer or they can’t pinpoint a date, encourage them that they have grown into their faith and talk to them about what they believe.

Now, if they do still struggle, what I’ve encouraged others to do, what I’ve encouraged my own kids to do, and my sister, even when she was doubting because she first prayed the prayer of faith when she was like 6 and she just wasn’t sure she understood enough to consider herself a Christian, I said, “Well then just pray again. Just commit your life to Jesus today and make it final. Settle it in your heart and mind.” So we can lead our children to do that. If they’re having a lot of doubts and they’re just plagued with wondering if they’re truly a believer, have them pray to seek God today and to commit to Him today and choose to follow Him; that way it settles it. If they need a date, they can pinpoint that date and the rest of their life was preparing for that moment when they finally understood. I want to encourage you with that, but then as we are raising our children, even before they’re Christians, we are discipling them, we are teaching them scripture, we’re teaching them the truths they need to know to be faithful followers of Christ. Baby Believers by Danielle Hitchens is a wonderful set of books.

Sally Lloyd Jones has some wonderful board books. One I like especially is Strong, and this is based on Psalm 1. The reason I like this is because I believe that Psalm Chapter 1:1-3 are key verses in describing discipleship to anybody, but it also is wonderful the way she does the book to describe it to children. She starts out talking about the tree, which is what is talked about in Psalm 1:1-3. It says, “By a stream is a good place for a little tree to be.” It talks about how the tree grows and it bears fruit. Its leaves, they don’t wither, they stay green. What’s also wonderful about this are the pictures they take you from all over the world looking at different trees and it’s just really an adorable book, but then toward the end, she shifts the focus to us, close to you, God is a good place for me to be, and then it talks a little bit about that and it ends with, “I am so happy with you, God, like a little tree by a stream,” so it brings home that analogy that we find in Psalm Chapter 1. It’s a wonderful board book that really does talk about what it means to be a disciple.

Another board book I absolutely love is Nothing by Natalee Creech and illustrated by Joseph Cowman. This one is “Nothing can separate You from God’s love.” It’s outlining that scripture and helping our children understand that they cannot go anywhere away from God’s love. He is wherever they are and He loves them no matter what. It’s just wonderful. I just love that. It’s based on Romans 8:38. So it starts out, “Can anything separate us from God’s love?” I love these books that just take scripture and make it into a visual beautiful little board book that children can grasp and understand and scripture can begin to take root in their hearts and lives.

Another great author is Jared Kennedy. He has a few board books in the A Beginner’s Gospel group of books, and this one is Jesus Rose for Me, and it talks about Jesus being alive and tells the story of Easter. The visuals are simple and clear, just very well done, and I think it’s a wonderful way for us to discuss the gospel and to go through the Easter story. So those are a few of the board books that I really love for discipling our children for beginning, even before they understand, even before they’re old enough to truly grasp the gospel and to lay that groundwork, foundation and preparation. I think that’s wonderful and I think we should start from birth.

Now I want to talk about picture books. There are so, so many picture books, and again, I’ll reiterate, these are Christian market books that deal specifically with topics of discipleship, the things that we want to discuss in discipling our children. In my book I talk about general market books and of course we always want to use whatever situation we have to bring in the gospel, but these are specifically books that are talking about the gospel and about the tenets of our faith, the ideas of how to walk with Christ and follow Him faithfully and I have mentioned many times on this episode, the Fat Cat series of books. They are specifically written about the topics covered in the catechism. In catechism is the Apostles Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the 10 Commandments.

The other series that I just love is Tales That Tell the Truth. They have like 14 books in that series. These deal with so many important stories from scripture, so many important points in theology. It joins the Old Testament with the New Testament, which is just beautiful and wonderful. They’re very well written.

The theology is sound in them. Wonderful series of books. Those include The Prisoner’s Earthquake and The Midnight Song, Jesus and the Very Big Surprise, we have The Garden, The Curtain and The Cross, which we mentioned on our Lent and Easter episode. Such an important book that deals with so much theology. Then one of my favorites for discipling is Anytime, Any Place, Any Prayer, I absolutely love this one. If you’re talking about prayer, I highly recommend this book: Anytime, Any Place, Any Prayer. So those are the series that I recommend.

Now I’m going to go through lots of other books that are not in a series that I really love. One is I See Jesus, which we mentioned on our Easter episode written by Nancy Guthrie, illustrated by Jenny Brake. This is the book that we talked about where it carries you through the entire Bible and shows you that Jesus is in every book.

Another one we featured recently is What Is Truth? by Elizabeth Urbanowicz and illustrated by Miranda Duncan, and this one is key to us talking about topics today with our children and helping them to understand what truth is and how to discern truth. If we do not teach our children to discern, we are short changing them greatly because there’s so much coming at them, they need to know how to discern.

Okay, Jared Kennedy also has quite a few picture books that also deal with important points in theology. One I love is illustrated by Trish Mahoney, it’s God Made Me for Worship, and it’s helping children understand the importance of church, and this is an important part of discipling someone is teaching them that we need to be in fellowship with other believers. We need to go to church. I cannot encourage you enough to get your children in church.

It makes an enormous difference in a child’s upbringing to not only know the scripture of course and be exposed to that truth all the time each week when we go to church, but the fellowship we have with other believers is vital to our growth, to our strength in our walk with God. We cannot obey quite a few commandments the Lord gives us if we do not attend church, if we do not participate in a fellowship of believers. Now, you could go to a house church, you could go to a big cathedral church, you can go to a little country church, that’s not the issue. The issue is that you are consistently having fellowship with other believers and holding each other accountable, helping each other grow, helping each other in our walks with God, helping our children to understand that attending church is important. The other part of that is it is a safe place to land.

If your church isn’t a safe place to land, I encourage you to find another church. A church should be a place where we can go when we have failed and we can be surrounded by those who love us when we repent and who help us then to be restored into a right walk, a right place with God.

I love the book The Promise, and I’ve mentioned it on our Lent episode. This book is so rich in theology. Again, it carries the story of the gospel through the entire scriptures and really makes it clear why we need Jesus and why the gospel is important. So those three books I think are so key. The Garden, the Curtain, and the Cross, The Promise, andthe I See Jesus book by Nancy Guthrie.

Another book about scripture that’s really awesome is Read It, See It, Say It, Sing It: Knowing and Loving The Bible by Hunter Beless Illustrated by Hsulynn Pang. This one’s just really lovely as far as talking about scripture and experiencing scripture.

This is from the Treasure Seekers series. It’s called Where is Wisdom: A Treasure Hunt Through God’s Wondrous Word, inspired by Job 28, and it’s written by Scott James. The illustrations are just beautiful in this book. It’s just such a beautiful text and I think it’s so important that we teach our children where wisdom comes from and where they can find wisdom. The Bible simply says, if we lack wisdom, to ask God and He will give it to us freely, that’s what we need to help our children understand. I love this book. It’s called Oh, The Seeds You Can Sow: A Tale of Growing Kindness, and today in our world, teaching our children what kindness truly is is so important, teaching them that what we do plants seeds of the gospel in other people’s hearts and it helps the seeds in our heart to grow.

It’s just a beautiful little book. It’s written by Jessica Lisk and another one about planting seeds and the small actions we do in helping our children to understand that even at a young age they have ministry to do, they can do things that make a difference and encourage people. This one is, again by Natalie Creech, we mentioned her other one that’s called Nothing, and this is called Something: One Small Thing Can Make a Difference. This book, we were talking about prayer a few minutes ago.

This one is one of my favorites talking about prayer. In Jesus’ Name I Pray by Costi and Christyne Hinn and the artwork is by Guy Wolek, TJ the Squirrel is the main character and he learns the true heart of prayer. This does deal with a lot of theology about prayer, but in a storybook way and it’s really lovely.

Two books by Melissa Kruger. I love her books. I’m hoping to have her on the podcast at some point because I really like her books. One is His Grace is Enough: How God Makes It Right When We’ve Got It Wrong, written by Melissa Kruger, illustrated by Isabel Lundie. His Grace is Enough talks about grace, it talks about forgiveness, it talks about God’s mercy in this book. Then another one that is one of my absolute favorite books is Wherever You Go, I Want You to Know, I think every child needs this book. Now, one of the topics we haven’t typically traditionally talked about when we’re discipling children is gender, but today that needs to be on our agenda to talk about with our children. It’s just too important for them to understand that they are made in the image of God, that God created them, male and female, and they are who God created them to be.

So two books that I really like about this topic, and I think they both handle it very well according to scripture just are excellent and one is by Marty Machowski. God Made Boys and Girls: Helping Children Understand the Gift of Gender, and I think that’s really at the core of a lot of what we need to help our children understand. Yes, they are created in the image of God and He made them male or female, but we need to celebrate that He did. Too many times girls hate that they’re girls because of whatever’s happening around them, especially if they’ve got a little brother all of a sudden, you know, and they’re the older sibling, they feel left out and if they were a boy, maybe they’d be getting all the attention that their little brother is getting. In some cultures, of course, boys are valued higher than girls and so girls grow up with this hatred for being a woman and then when they hit puberty and get into all of the hormones and menstruating and all of those things, they may hate it even more because it’s painful and it’s not fun to go through all those things. I mean, let’s be real. It isn’t fun. It’s a tough thing, and so they begin to really hate being a girl. We need to help them know that God made them that way for a purpose. The reason they have their cycle each month is so they can be moms someday. My mom always reminded me of that, that someday I could be a mom, and that’s why we had to go through that. That helped me because it was not fun and I was quite sick sometimes. I knew it meant that I could be a mom someday, and I know it’s even painful as we get into our adulthood to realize that may not happen and we do have to deal with that, but we’re dealing with that as a mature adult hopefully, and not having to tackle that fear and doubt as a teenager or as a young girl.

That’s not what we’re thinking about, but we’re reminding them that they were created with purpose. God made them a girl or a boy, whichever for a purpose. It was not a mistake. God doesn’t make mistakes and if we help our children grow up with that attitude, whether they were born with special needs or in talking about gender, that God doesn’t make mistakes, He created them and they are wonderful and they’re wonderfully made and He has a plan and a purpose for their lives regardless of anything else, He has a purpose for their life and helping them to understand that. The other book I really love is by Dale Partridge, Jesus and My Gender, and it’s illustrated by Brad Smith, and this is really well done from and I don’t know if you can even find it on Amazon, I don’t remember, but you can definitely go to their website.

I recommend doing that if you can with a lot of these books. I will have the Amazon link and the show notes, but I really think it’s wonderful if you can go to their website or their publisher’s website order from there, especially organizations like It’s a smaller organization and when we buy directly from them, they get more of the proceeds going directly to them. Sometimes you get a discount ordering from their website, so check it out if you have the time, go to the different websites and see if they have a discount or if you can help support their ministry more effectively by buying directly from them. The Gospel Coalition is the same. You can go to their website and order books there. I just think anytime we can do that, it’s a blessing, and then one other way we can bless these authors and these publishers is by giving these books reviews on their websites and I need to get back into that. I was doing it every week, going onto Good Reads or to Amazon and just putting a quick review in. It helps so much. So take the time to do that if you can just, if you even just set aside five minutes a week and do a review on two books each week, it’s tremendously helpful.

Now, I want to move on to some books that are for our older kids. There are some really cute ones out there that are, maybe cute isn’t the right word for teenagers or whatever, but these are some really excellent books that I want to share with you.

I have a couple in our book club this month. Jesus Loves Me by John S. Dickerson, The Acrostic of Jesus by Jonathan Gibson and Timothy Brindle. These books are really good.

And then there’s another one called The Radical Book for Kids and The Really Radical Book for Kids by Champ Thornton Illustrated by Scot McDonald, and these books are thick books. These are not picture books, but these deal with a lot of theology and a lot of questions and helping an older child understand the gospel and understand scripture and theology. Another one that is excellent is DoubtLess – Because Faith is Hard, and this one is by Shelby Abbott, and this is a really good book as well about talking about the hard topics of Christianity, and then the last one in this little part is Stand Up, Stand Strong: A Call to Bold Faith in a Confused Culture, and this one is by Sarah Barratt. I’ve had her on the podcast a while back. I’ll put the link there to that episode. Wonderful book, fantastic book. I think it’s really at a level that is easy to grasp would fit for middle schoolers and high schoolers easily. Really good book, calling them to strong faith and truth. You know, that’s really the key here. It’s helping our kids to grasp truth and understand that truth is something they can understand that it is real, that it isn’t something that is flexible and changing and all of that.

Now, some great great books that I recommend for us as we are growing in our faith and helping our families grow in their faith, and some of these are quite old, but they’re such classic, really books that I think should be on everyone’s reading list as teenagers and adult. One I want to mention is by Jennie Allen called Anything: The Prayer That Unlocked My God and My Soul. It changed my whole understanding of walking with God. It was life changing for me.

Another one that fits into that category is Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala. I think every believer should read that one, and I also love his breakthrough prayer book.

These are older books, but they are fantastic and they really do challenge us in our walks with God. Another one that I think it should be on everyone’s list is Prayer by O. Hallesby, the first initial O. and then Hallesby. It’s been translated into English. I believe he was Dutch, but this is a classic book too, and we’ve given it to people many, many times. It is life changing as well.

Of course you have Andrew Murray’s books, Abide in Christ and With Christ in the School of Prayer.

You have A.W. Tozer. There are so many good books that he wrote, but he has one on Discipleship.

Another one is Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret. This is dealing with abiding in Christ, and that one was also an amazing life changing book for me as a young college student.

Some newer books that I recommend are All That’s Good by Hannah Anderson. This is about discernment.

Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes by Richard E. Randolph, reading that one currently.

Family Discipleship by Matt Chandler and Adam Griffin. This is a book about helping our families be discipled.

We’ve mentioned before, The Prayer Saturated Family, and this is a wonderful book about helping our children and our family as a whole to pray, and that’s by Cheryl Sacks. She has quite a few little books out that are wonderful. I’m reading Prayer Saturated Kids right now. So many great books.

Of course, the main book we need to be reading is the scripture. We need to make sure that we are reading scripture first and foremost, and these books secondarily.

There are a couple books I recommend for Spiritual Warfare. The Spiritual Warfare Answer Book by David Jeremiah, and the other one I recommend for dealing with Spiritual Warfare is The Bondage Breaker by Neil T. Anderson, and he has several books in that series and I really appreciate his approach to talking about spiritual warfare. They handle spiritual warfare in a biblical way that is really solidly based on scripture. If there’s a specific topic I haven’t covered in discipleship in this program, please post that in the comments. I would love to answer your question. I have so many great books I’ve read and if I haven’t found them, I will help you find them. I would love to find some other books to add to my list, so if you have a specific question you’re dealing with your child, put the question in the comments, or if you know of a really great book that you would like to recommend, put that in the comments and let us know about that and what topic it covers.

Thank you for joining us for “Books That Spark,” where we encourage each other to grasp those teachable moments sparked by great books and to live out everyday discipleship, helping to equip our children to follow Christ with their whole hearts. If you enjoyed this episode, please like and share on social media so people know we are here or leave comments on one of the podcast host sites. We truly appreciate you. If you would like to connect with me, you can join my mailing list or comment on We love to hear from you and we respond to every comment and question. We pray you feel empowered as a parent or caregiver to walk by faith and to embrace everyday discipleship every day with the children in your life.

Your Host: Terrie Hellard-Brown

Terrie Hellard-Brown writes and speaks to help children and adults find God’s purpose and plan for their lives. She teaches workshops and writes devotional books, children’s stories, and Christian education materials.

Her podcast, Books that Spark, reviews children’s books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion leading to teachable moments with our kids. Her podcast posts each Tuesday morning.

Her blog posts discuss living as a disciple of Christ while parenting our children. She challenges us to step out of our comfort zones to walk by faith in obedience to Christ and to use the nooks and crannies of our lives to disciple our children.

Terrie uses her experiences as a mother of four (three on “the spectrum”), 37 years in ministry (15 in Taiwan), and 32 years teaching to speak to the hearts of readers.

Her motto is “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be WONDERFUL” and keeps her childlike joy by writing children’s stories, delighting over pink dolphins, and frequently laughing till it hurts.

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