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Children's Books

Stories for the heart

Four books from Christian publishers

The Very Best Story Ever Told: The Gospel with American Sign Language

Robin Currie

The Very Best Story Ever Told teaches children how to share the gospel story using basic American Sign Language. With each turn of the page, Currie introduces children to a new sign that is then repeated along with a rhythmic summary as the story of Jesus’ birth, life, and death builds to a climax. Each of the 13 signs has an illustration with directions showing how to sign the word correctly, and each is simple enough for even young children to master. One disappointment: The story does not clearly explain why Jesus came to earth and later died on the cross. (Ages 4-8)

God Made Me And You

Shai Linne

In this book, Linne celebrates God’s design for ethnic diversity by focusing on how the gospel transforms our view of race. To help children understand the root of racism and bigotry, Linne goes back to the Garden of Eden, where sin distorted what was meant to glorify God. But Linne then points to our hope in Jesus: “At the cross, we see what God’s love is about, / There’s no type of person that Jesus left out.” Although the book’s rhyming text at times feels awkward, in other places it shines. The endnotes offer parents ideas to help their children appreciate God’s design for ethnic diversity. (Ages 4-8)

Goodbye to Goodbyes

Lauren Chandler

In Goodbye to Goodbyes, Chandler uses the story of Lazarus’ death and resurrection to help children understand death in light of the gospel. In tender terms Chandler explains that Jesus knows how sad it is when someone we love gets sick or dies, but thankfully we have hope and a promise: Jesus came to give His followers new life after death, and that means one day we can say goodbye to goodbyes forever. This seventh book in the Tales That Tell the Truth series again features Catalina Echeverri’s illustrations, which overflow with vibrancy and detail to enhance the story’s message. (Ages 4-8)

Freedom at the Falls 

Marianne Hering & Sheila Seifert

Cousins Beth and Patrick team up again in this Imagination Station adventure No. 22. This time Mr. Whittaker’s time travel machine sends them back to 1861 so they can board Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural train as it rumbles east to northern New York. While they help Mrs. Lincoln watch over Willie and Tad, they must also hide a runaway slave girl from a slave catcher. When things take a dangerous turn, Beth and Patrick’s personal convictions lead them to make a courageous choice. The story concludes with a cliffhanger that Hering and Seifert will continue in book No. 23, Terror in the Tunnel. (Ages 7-12)

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Children's Books

Persevering people

Recent biographies for kids

Secret Engineer: How Emily Roebling Built the Brooklyn Bridge

Rachel Dougherty

Emily is a curious learner as a child and later marries Washington Roebling, an engineer who is the son of the famous bridge builder John A. Roebling. When Washington’s father dies, he takes over plans to build a bridge across the East River connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn. But Emily must step in after Washington falls ill from spending long hours digging in caissons at the bottom of the river. At first, Washington dictates instructions to Emily, but she grows in knowledge and eventually carries the controversial project to completion. Dougherty delivers an engaging biography enhanced with bright-colored illustrations and an undaunted heroine. (Ages 5-8)

Cyrus Field’s Big Dream

Mary Morton Cowan

Cyrus Field could have retired at age 34 from a successful career as a paper merchant. Instead, in 1857 he takes on the ambitious goal of establishing the first transatlantic telegraph cable. This feat proves to be a challenge, and readers will hold their breaths as one thing after another goes wrong but Field refuses to give up. Widespread jubilation ensues when Queen Victoria sends President James Buchanan a Morse code message on Aug. 16, 1858, but the connection quickly breaks: It takes eight years to restore it. Cowan provides extensive historical context while presenting a man who glorified God in both trials and accomplishments. (Ages 10-12)

Bethany Hamilton

Jenni L. Walsh

Bethany Hamilton had won two surfing championships by age 13. Then a 14-foot tiger shark bit off her arm. Although the attack thrusts Hamilton into the limelight, she refuses to let it define her and decides one month later to get back in the water and try to surf again. Hamilton’s faith propels her, and she credits God and her family for the courage to surf competitively again with “Stumpy,” the nickname she gives her missing arm. In Bethany Hamilton, which is part of Scholastic’s new She Dared series, Walsh highlights a worthy role model for young readers. (Ages 8-10)

Elvis is King!

Jonah Winter

Elvis Presley began singing in church and from there seized every opportunity to take the stage. When he heads to Memphis with his parents, they are banking on his talent to earn a living as a performer. Elvis dyes his hair black and dons head-turning outfits from thrift stores. This classic rags-to-riches tale does not mention his ignominious end but instead portrays a man who thought he found “salvation” through music. Red Nose Studio, aka Chris Sickels, bolsters the book with theaterlike clay figures and sets, and an author’s note provides a new generation with perspective on Elvis’ beginnings and unique appeal. (Ages 8-10)

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Children's Books

In worlds away

Teen fantasy from Christian publishers 

King’s War

Jill Williamson

King’s War concludes a three-book series about the kingdom of Armania, a land where people follow Arman (who represents the true God) instead of the surrounding nations’ pagan gods. Trevn struggles with his new responsibilities as king, but his wife and friends support him as he navigates the final showdown with Armania’s enemies and frenemies. The book contains endearing but flawed characters and inspiring portrayals of obedience to God despite the odds. The plot is heavy with magic: Good characters use it with self-control and wisdom, while bad characters grasp it for power. Spiritual allusions and war descriptions make the book better suited for older teens. (Ages 16 & up)

Unbreakable

Sara Ella

The Unblemished trilogy comes to its conclusion in Unbreakable. With her friends by her side, Eliyana Ember relies on the Verity to help her defeat the Void and take her place as queen. The story highlights friendship, loyalty, and perseverance with likable characters and engaging writing. Each chapter jumps between different characters’ perspectives, though, and readers have to sort through their jumbled thoughts and feelings, which slows the action. Themes of self-worth and identity run throughout the story as Eliyana learns to appreciate her unique strengths and weaknesses. She must also navigate a love triangle subplot that involves kissing and lots of romantic thoughts. (Ages 14 & up)

The Crescent Stone

Matt Mikalatos

Madeline Oliver is dying from a lung disease, but then an Elenil appears and offers her a bargain: one year of service in the Sunlit Lands for the ability to breathe freely again. She accepts the bargain and goes to the strange land with her wisecracking friend Jason Wu. As the plot unfolds, the book diverges into social injustice discussions: The main characters hear from friends who experienced discrimination because of their African-American, Chinese, or Native American heritage. While the story becomes interesting and meaningful at the end, the writing throughout is mediocre, and Jason is the only character with energy and humor. (Ages 13 & up)

Mark of the Raven

Morgan L. Busse

Selene is heir to the secretive House Ravenwood. Unbeknownst to the six neighboring houses, Selene’s cruel mother has trained her to “dreamwalk”—enter a person’s dream and manipulate fears. Selene wavers between duty to protect Ravenwood and guilt for hurting others, but when her mother targets the kind leader of House Maris, Selene must make a choice. In Mark of the Raven, Busse has crafted a well-written story with believable (if stereotypical fantasy) characters and a compelling world with unique culture and detail. Note: Some dark dreams and descriptions of suffering might make the book too intense for younger teens. (Ages 14 & up)

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