I have a confession:
I have a hard time liking Christian books for kids.
I WANT to like them. I want to provide my kids age-appropriate tools that will help them to grow in their relationship with God– communicating to them the depths of God’s love for them, while also not being cheesy.
Apparently this is a tall order.
One of my friends recently posted this question to a Facebook group that we’re a part of:
I have two kids who are two and three years old. Does anyone have any suggestions for age-appropriate books or cartoons that come from a progressive Christian perspective?
I struggled to think of a response. Not just for 2-3 year olds, but for older kids too.
Because of this difficulty, I’m particularly excited to share this book recommendation for kids ages 8-14. And while I’m not sure I’d throw it into the progressive category, it comes closer than most.
The Radical Book for Kids: Exploring the Roots and Shoots of Faith, is a book that helps kids grow in their understanding of the Bible, spiritual practices, and knowledge of Christian history. The author also throws some crazy stuff in there like how to make pottery, building a sundial, and learning the greek alphabet- because learning about the roots of our faith can be really fun!
This hardcover book is divided into 67 short, 2-3 page chapters. Each page is filled with colorful illustrations and has a good sense of design. The style reminds me of books like Ripley’s Believe it or Not, Guinness Book of World Records for Kids, or sport statistic books: colorful, engaging, short chapters that don’t mess around with too many words.
The content is engaging, fun, smart, and hits on a variety of topics.
For word nerds, they’ll love learning the greek (and hebrew!) alphabet, becoming familiar with some common latin phrases, and learning about ancient texting (LOL! FRT).
For kids who care a lot about friends and relationships, there are chapters on friendship, relationship with parents, and dealing with enemies.
I know there are some kids who just want to DO and TRY and EXPERIMENT. For these kids, they’ll learn how to make a sundial, pottery, and a slingshot, among other things.
Most of the rest of the chapters dive into questions about God, spiritual practices, theology, and how to read Scripture in a way that honors the intent of the author.
There’s no guilt, no “shoulds”, no mention of demanding obedience out of fear of hell or damnation or God’s unhappiness with them.
Instead, it’s written with a tone of curiosity and conversation, focused on God’s love and rescue plan for all of creation. Sure, a part of that story is sin, death and Satan, but ultimately, the author is writing from a perspective of the bigger picture- God’s redemptive plan. The author says:
By now it should be clear that Christianity is not a religion that’s a list of advice for you to do. No, instead Christianity brings news of what Jesus has already done. It’s not about the accomplishment of your good works; it’s about the announcements of his good works.
I love it! And this is a perspective that’s missing from many books I review for kids. The temptation in these faith-based kid books are to focused good works because that’s what applies right then and there. We want our kids to obey and do the right thing. That makes sense.
BUT, without constantly putting in front of them the bigger picture- the more important picture, frankly, the gospel turns into this mucky, weird, shame-laden relationship with God that is messy to reverse later on in life.
The gospel is not good advice. It’s good news. The author gets that.
I highly recommend this book for kids who are interested in learning a little more about the roots of their faith and how they can lean into the good news of the Kingdom of God and their journey with God!
Thanks to the publisher for this review copy! All these thoughts are honest and wholly mine :).