I have eight nieces and nephews who I regularly buy books for. Each of them gets a set of books at Christmas so throughout the year I keep an eye out for bargains on offer in Tesco (the U.K. equivalent of Target or Walmart) or on line at various bargain book outlets. What I enjoy is looking out for titles that I know each child will enjoy. The oldest boy is very into Tolkien but also loves Oor Wullie (a Scottish Cartoon character). Recently I found a pile of Oor Wullie annuals in a charity shop – so that’s going to be something for his birthday or Christmas. Michael Morpurgo’s books have also been firm favourites.
It has been interesting over the years to see their different tastes develop. There was a time you couldn’t get my oldest niece away from Enid Blyton books, but now if she can get a few moments away from exam revision she enjoys a wide variety of titles from Dickens to Agatha Christie.
I love seeing them reading the classics and enjoying books that I enjoyed as a child. There has been a fairly recent trend of adapting older classics for younger readers. I really liked the junior editions of Little House on the Prairie. But there’s nothing like reading the real thing. The simplified versions are lovely and really well produced but Laura Ingalls Wilder’s own words are too good to miss just because you’ve read the shortened version as a child.
It is great to actually see my older nieces and nephews make their first forays into reading adult titles. To be honest, on occasion I’ve found them reading books which I would have dismissed as being too difficult for them. This just goes to show that we can unwittingly under-estimate young readers.
Sometimes though the young reader just isn’t quite at the level for the adult book which is where youth editions/publications come in. And there are some really good youth editions of adult theological books out there…. One I would highlight here is Top 100 Questions Remix. … A youth edition of the adult apologetic book by Richard Bewes.
Many other publishers do something similar with books like this. Recently I saw Day One have published a children’s version of some of Spurgeon’s teachings which I thought was a great idea. However, sometimes publishers don’t really need to do this, particularly for young adults as the really good writers will write at a level that appeals to both adults and confident young readers. And some of the classic writers, such as Spurgeon, had such a gift with words that much of what they wrote has a style that is enjoyed today. With careful consideration I would suggest that confident young readers from a church background could be introduced easily to reading Spurgeon. A good place to start would be his title: Chequebook of the Bank of Faith.
Some people dismiss topics such as Reformed theology, Mission and Church history as unsuitable for the younger members of their church and family. But if there is a topic that we feel is important, important enough that we seek out a book on this subject for ourselves, we should consider whether this book is something that our children and teenagers should be reading.
Yes, sometimes these books require us to think, and will require our young people to think and make their minds work. But this is, or should be, part of life – for us and them. For anyone to progress in sports, music, literature they need to aim higher, stretch themselves, move on.
That’s why I think the Student’s Guide series is ideal for young Christians, for young readers in your church and family. With an engaging writing style that treats young people as adults these books introduce some of the heavy weight issues of the Christian life in a way that makes these topics easy to absorb.
Think about the books your kids were reading two years ago, five years ago, eight years ago and how these titles have changed. It’s good to see skills and tastes develop in children over time. It’s great to be involved in that process. Think about developing their Christian reading too. Introduce them to books that will stretch them. Introduce them to new topics, old classics, favourite authors. There is a treasure trove for them to dive into. Teach them to read. Teach them to think – and enjoy it all together.