#1 Sophie and the Heidelberg Cat
This is the best young-children’s book I have ever read. Sophie feels guilty for being mean to her sister, and a talking neighbor cat applies the timeless wisdom of the Heidelberg Catechism to comfort her with the gospel.
Asked what the Bible teaches, Sophie responds:
“Be bold like King David, be brave like Queen Esther,
and do what God tells you, no matter how scary.
Don’t fight him, like Pharaoh, or trick him, like Judas.
Be patient, like Paul, and respectful, like Mary.”
The cat looks at Sophie. “And are you?” it asks.
“Not really,” says Sophie, “at least not for long.
That’s why I was crying before. It’s so hard
to be good all the time, and it always goes wrong.”
Amen, Sophie. So where then is our hope?
“The Bible tells stories of hundreds of people,
and all of them disobey God… except one.
So hope doesn’t come from the good things we do.
It comes as a gift, from what Jesus has done.”
I can’t recommend this book highly enough. I hope you buy it for you kids or grandkids and read it with them again and again and again. What a wonderful gift Andrew Wilson has given us.
#2 Little Pilgrim’s Big Journey
The Pilgrim’s Progress is the second best-selling English book of all time behind the Bible, and for good reason. Little Pilgrim’s Big Journey adapts this classic story for young children. I first read it with four year old daughter over the course of several nights. A few days later she asked me to read it again. And then again. Then she turned page-by-page and recounted the entire story to me in detail. Writing for young children well is not an easy task, but this book does it masterfully.
#3 Arlo and the Great Big Cover-Up
This is the book that my daughter would recommend first off of this list. Arlo draws on the wall and then tries to cover it up, but it only makes the mess worse. Although his Mom takes away some privileges in the end, she knows the secret to cleaning up his seemingly hopeless mess. Arlo learns an important lesson: “Cleaned up is much better than covered up.”
The rest of these are in no particular order. All of them are books that our family regularly pulls off the shelf, and all of them are excellent choices for any family with young children.
The Biggest Story Bible Storybook
We are blessed today to have a few really well-written storybook Bibles available. This one is easily my favorite, and it is the one we use in our home.
The Biggest Story
Can you summarize the entire story of the Bible from the garden to the new creation in 30 seconds? I bet my four year old can, thanks to The Biggest Story. This isn’t a storybook Bible but rather the story of the Bible broken up into ten chapters at key points like the exodus from Egypt or the resurrection of Jesus. Highly engaging and beautifully designed.
Sally Lloyd-Jones does an excellent job adapting Psalm 23 for young children. “Even when I walk through the dark, scary, lonely places, I won’t be afraid, because my Shepherd knows where I am. He is here with me.” This should be on the shelf of every Christian family with young children.
Polly and the Screen Time Overload
A follow-up to Arlo (if you look closely, you’ll even see him in one of the illustrations!) this tells the story of a girl named Polly who learns that “all things are lawful, but not all things are helpful.” Especially when it comes to technology. A great lesson and again an engaging story.
The Garden, the Curtain, and the Cross
This is similar to The Biggest Story in that it summarizes the entire Bible in a short story. Unlike The Biggest Story, this one is designed to be read in one sitting like a normal storybook. One of the clearest and most engaging presentations of the gospel in such a short book.
The Prince’s Poison Cup
The King’s son drinks the poison, taking the curse upon himself so that the King’s people do not have to. An excellent parable of substitutionary atonement—Jesus taking our curse of sin upon himself in order to rescue us from it.
The Knight’s Map
A knight embarks on the treasure hunt of all treasure hunts, hoping to find the great treasure. In the end he does, but it is not what He expected… As Christians we constantly need reminding that our great treasure is actually God himself. This book introduces this idea for young minds and hearts.
The Priest with the Dirty Clothes
A priest is surprised to be summoned to appear before the King himself. But the priest has a problem. On the way his clothes are hopelessly dirtied, and he is not allowed to stand in the King’s court with dirty clothes. The priest is even more surprised to meet the King’s own Son in his royal robes, and the King’s son suggests an exchange… “He became Sin who knew no sin, that we might become the righteousness of God.”