Episode 77: Finding the Right Devotional for Your Kids this Christmas

Do you need some Christmas gift ideas? What’s better than preparing for the New Year by finding a devotional for your kids and for your family to read together? 

In this episode of “Books that Spark” I share some devotional books that are unique and will challenge kids of every age to follow Christ more closely. 

Books Discussed in Today’s Episode:

Transcript with Links:

Welcome to “Books that Spark,” a podcast for parents and caregivers, celebrating books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion, leading to teachable moments with our kids. As we are Christmas shopping and planning for 2022, we go to thinking about what devotionals we want to read this next year? I have great suggestions for you. I’ve looked at several different devotionals that are out there. Of course, not all of them, because there are many, many out there, but I’ve come up with several that I want to share with you. I’ve chosen several because I’ve covered different age groups.

The first one I want to share with you is actually for preschoolers. It goes along with The One Year Bible, and this is The One Year Devotions for Preschoolers by Crystal Bowman and illustrated by Elena Kucharik. This one is really cute. The devotionals are very short and they try to be very kid-friendly, preschooler-friendly. They have a short Bible verse and Bible thought and prayer for each day. So these are really great to get started with your kids at a very young age.

There is another one geared toward the really young, and it’s called God’s Blessing Day by Day: My Daily Devotional for Kids from Thomas Nelson, and it’s edited by John Hunt. And this one says it’s for eight years and over, but to me it seems like you could start it much younger than that. Maybe they couldn’t read them on their own younger. You could read it to them. So if you’re reading the devotionals together, I think this one could work even for a much younger child–very clear messages that teach us about who God is, what our relationship with him should be, and is. There’s a takeaway for each devotional, which is really, I think, very effective for young children. So I love that one. I love that it makes it very accessible for understanding God in his ways and for taking away a thought for the day that the child can hang onto and remember about their relationship with God. I think this one would be really great for children who have just become Christians as well.

There’s another one that is just really nicely done. It’s called I Am Devotional: 100 Devotions about the Names of God by Diane M. Stortz. I think it is so nice the way she describes God’s names and how, when we want to get to know someone, the first thing we ask is “What is your name?” and “What do you do?” When we get to know God, he lets us know what he does by who he is and the names he gives us about who he is. She connects that really well, I think, to help a child understand that we get to know God by knowing his names. I just really love this book–the artwork and the way it’s done. This one is geared for ages six to ten.

Now this next one is beautifully done. It is called Jesus Wants All of Me by Phil A. Smouse, but it’s based on the book, My Utmost for His Highest. It’s made it into a kid’s devotional based on that book. The devotionals in here are very short, very succinct. It would be a very quick thing you could do at the breakfast table or right before bedtime that would just take under a minute to read. But the thoughts are so well-written. Well, if you’ve read My Utmost for His Highest, it’s a very deep and personal and intimate devotional about following Christ. And this has that same kind of feel to it. It’s very peaceful, very devotional/worshipful in the way that the devotions are presented. Let me just read a couple of these to you. One says, “I am God’s. My heart is his heart. My mind is his mind. My eyes will look for him. My ears will listen for his voice. My hands will do his will. I am God’s.” And then it has Philippians 1:20, “I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ.” What a wonderful way to start our day with our children. If we’re eating breakfast and reading this together, I just feel like this one would be great in the mornings, but to start my day saying, “I want my life to honor God. Everything I am, everything I have belongs to God. They are his.” And I think it’s beautiful. Another one says, “God knows what will happen tomorrow. He knows where I will be. He knows what I will do. I don’t ever have to worry. I am in good hands. I am in God’s hands.” And then it says, it’s the Jeremiah scripture, 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you.” And then the next one, “I can talk to God” and it talks about prayer, and it talks about God’s word. And then it has 1 Samuel, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” This is such a lovely devotional. I was really happy to find it and think it’s just beautiful. It’s for six years and over.

The next one I want to share with you is The Case for Christ Devotions for Kids: 365 Days with Jesus. And this is for eight to twelve-year-olds. We’ve mentioned The Case for Christ for Kids before, but this is the devotional. It’s very well done as all of Lee Strobel’s books are. I really love everything I’ve read by him. I think he has done a great job, and I love the way this one is set up, the way it is presented for children. I think what I love about this one the most is that it encourages children that it is okay to have questions. It’s okay to even have doubts. And I think it’s really important that we help our children understand that–that they don’t have to be afraid to ask questions. They can always come to us with those questions, and we will wrestle with things and work through things together. On the first one, it’s called “On Being Skeptical,” and it has 1 Thessalonians 5:21, “But test them all; hold on to what is good.” And it says, “Truth is important.” And I love that. Those are the first words in the first devotional, “Truth is important.” It ends with Proverbs 8:17. “I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.” “God, isn’t worried about our questions or doubts. He knows when we seek the truth, we’ll always come back to him, and finding God is much better than getting free pizza.” Then it has a thought for the day and some questions for the day. The thought for the day says, “Lord, help me seek you. Make me skeptical of the things that aren’t true.” I love the way this is set up. And I think it’s wonderful for eight to twelve-year-olds. It will speak to them and bless them in many ways.

The next one is Would You Rather. Now this is the most unusual of all the devotional books I’ve seen, and it’s by Matt Koceich. It’s an “Interactive Devotional Journal and Sketchbooks for Adventurous Kids.” This one has two stories paraphrased. It has the scripture, so they can go straight to the scripture, but it has the two stories kind of paraphrased, and then it asks the child, “Which would you rather do?” The first one has the story of Ezekiel and the valley of dry bones and God bringing the bones back to life. The second is about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego being thrown into the fiery hot furnace. Then it says after the two stories, “Would you rather see a valley of dry bones come to life or be thrown into a blazing hot furnace?” It leaves a place for them to answer that and journal about it and to sketch a picture about it. But in the process, it’s teaching children about God, what he does, and how he interacts with his children, the point of each story. So it’s very interesting, it’s very unusual, but I thought for certain kids, this might be a really great fit. And It is geared for eight to twelve-year-olds. Check it out. It’s kind of interesting.

The next one is a shorter devotional. This one is only 90 devotions, and it is Heroes of the Bible Devotional: 90 Devos to Help You Become a Hero of God by Joshua Cooley. This one is also geared toward eight to 12 year olds. I think this one would really appeal to a lot of eight to twelve-year-olds, but it is a shorter one. Most of the ones I’ve shared are for the full year. (These last two are a little bit shorter.) I like the way it begins with creation and the importance of believing in creation. And it also deals with different character studies from the characters in the Bible. It has a lot of interaction in the book. I just really like that.

Throughout the year I have been reading from several devotionals at the end of some of my podcasts, and two of those I’d like to remind you of today. One of them is Hope for Each Day: 365 Devotions for Kids by Billy Graham. This one’s just very nice. You’ve heard several of them If you’ve been listening to the podcast, and they cover a variety of topics having to do with living the Christian life and what the Bible teaches. The same is true for Charles Stanley’s Every Day with Jesus: 365 Devotions for Kids. This one kind of follows year and has different topics appropriate for the different times of year. Both of these are very well done, very trustworthy theology throughout them, and I feel very confident suggesting either of these two to anyone to read with their kids or have their kids read. These are geared more toward a little bit older student in elementary who’s able to read on their own, but if you are reading it with your children, I think you could deal with kindergarten on up, and these would be great.

The last book I want to share is for us as parents. It’s also from The One Year Bible, and it’s called The One Year Praying through the Bible for Your Kids by Nancy Guthrie. I recommended this one a long time ago because it is such a nice book, so well done. If you’re reading through the Bible with the One Year Bible plan, then it goes right along with that. The first days I’m going to read to you as we close out today. The way The One Year Bible does it is they have an Old Testament and a New Testament scripture, a Psalm, and a Proverb for every day of the year. The first day it’s Genesis 1:1 through 2:25, and Matthew 1:1 to 2:12, and Psalm 1:1-6, and Proverbs 1:1-6. And then the devotional for that day for praying for our children is “Formless, Empty, and Dark”.

Genesis 1:1-2: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty and darkness covered the deep waters and the spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.” She says, “In the beginning, when God spoke the creation into being from nothing. The earth was a mass of raw material, a dark and barren wilderness with no shape to it. But it was brimming with possibility because the Spirit of God was hovering over it in anticipatory power, waiting for the word to go out. Then God said, let there be light. And there was light. The power of God’s spoken word penetrated and eradicated the darkness. As he continued to speak, the formlessness of creation gave way to the order of earth and sky, land and sea. The emptiness was filled with plants, animals, and human life. And still God’s word goes out with shaping, filling, illumining power. Still the Spirit hovers over homes and families where there is chaos and emptiness and darkness with the power to bring something out of nothing. Still the Spirit works through the word so that what emerges is truly good.” I just love that. And then she has a prayer: “Creator, we need you to do a creative work in our home that only you can do. We need your Spirit to hover as we open up your word day by day this coming year. Let there be light in our home. May it penetrate the dark corners and expose what is hidden, bring order to our disordered ways of relating to each other and to You. Fill up the empty places with your beauty and life. As parents, we don’t have the power to create spiritual life in our children. Only you can do that. So won’t you do your creative work in my children? Shape his life into something beautiful for your glory. Enlighten his eyes to see you. Fill his life with your good gifts.” And in the prayer, it has blanks for you to say your children’s names or your child’s name, instead of saying “our children.” But I love that. It’s very personal. We can personalize the prayers for our own families. What a great way to start the year, to think of God’s creative power and that he is still the same God yesterday, today, and forever, and he is bringing beauty out of chaos. He is bringing purpose and meaning and a plan out of the seemingly disorganized chaos of our lives.

Let me know what devotionals you’ve found and used with your family, that you’ve found to be a blessing and been effective to you. I would love to hear from you and hear what you’ve used in the past or what you would recommend. Thank you for joining us for “Books that Spark,” a podcast, celebrating books, that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussions as we disciple our children and help them follow Christ with their whole hearts. If you would like to join my mailing list or reach me or comment on this podcast, you can find me at TerrieHellardBrown.com. And if you like this podcast, please download it. Every time you download it, it helps the podcast become more visible to other people. With any podcast you like, please download them. Just like when you give a review for a book, it pushes it up on the list, and it helps more people see that book and see that it’s there. The way the world works today, that’s how it is. And so you can be a huge help to writers and podcasters if you will like and download and comment and review different products and different podcasts.

I hope you are having a wonderful Christmas season and that you have a very Merry Christmas. I hope that these books are helpful to help you kind of navigate the massively huge number of devotional books out there. I really think some of these are very special and would really bless your children and your family in this upcoming year.

Your Host:

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 are published each Thursday and discuss living as a disciple of Christ while discipling our children. She challenges us to step out of our comfort zones to walk by faith in obedience to Christ.

For more information, visit her website at terriehellardbrown.com

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 “Growing older is inevitable; growing up is optional” and keeps her childlike joy by writing children’s stories, delighting over pink dolphins, and frequently laughing till it hurts.

How to Choose the Right Devotional:

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