Typical teen reading lists are filled with either fluff or ideological dribble. Books suggested for college prep are especially boring, irrelevant and cater to progressive brainwashing.
Teens are not just older children, they are developing adults, and they need to be armed to the teeth as they face the issues of our current culture. Conventional reading suggestions will not equip them for a positive, God-glorifying future. They need reading that will bolster their faith, and it must be relevant and interesting.
Since I only have a few short years to influence my children for the good, I have to be intentional in our reading choices. This is why I have searched and researched, prayed and trusted, until finally landing on a list of books (although incomplete) that speak to my children (and to me).
I share them here with you because I know that you have most probably looking, too.
Just because our children live in a Christian home doesn’t mean they are automatically going to trust in Christ. There are so many voices out there, so many reasons to question our faith. Why should they believe in God; just because Dad and Mom say so? What if Mom and Dad don’t have it right? What if there is something “new” and they are just behind the times?
We don’t really want them to be so naive and simplistic in their thinking that they are taken advantage of by wolves in sheep’s clothing.
This is why we need to help them navigate through the arguments out there, but not in a heady, theological-sounding way.
Michael Green doesn’t preach, he dialogues. He asks questions, and then he leads his reader down the path of reason to obvious conclusions. His apologetics are air-tight without being judgmental.
I checked this one out digitally via our local library and read it on my tablet to the children. We actually looked forward to it every day. It was exciting for me to witness the gears turning in the heads of my teens as they took their assumptions and put them in the context of larger thinking.
Of course, books like this aren’t meant to be read only once. We are planning to read through it again this year and delve even deeper as we go along.
My kids absolutely loved this one and ate it up like candy.
There is something satisfying about knowing the “why’s” of our culture, as if one is being let in on secret keys that unlock the whole puzzle and put everything into order.
And it was terrific for me! I had so many “Aha!” moments as I was reading. If you’ve ever wondered about the roots of the most heinous ideas of our modern age, this book will expose them (but not in a conspiracy theory sort of way).
We read this one aloud together about three years ago and we still discuss it daily, especially during this current election season.
The following is taken from the description of the book on Amazon:
…defends capitalism within the context of the Christian faith, revealing how entrepreneurial enterprise, based on hard work, honesty, and trust, actually fosters creativity and growth. In doing so, Money, Greed, and God exposes eight myths about capitalism, and demonstrates that a good Christian can be a good capitalist.
The author starts out by describing his own journey as a believer in socialism as the only Christian answer to the world’s problems. He describes the different voices that convinced him capitalism was hateful, and how a college professor demanded he immerse himself in such ideology until he was thoroughly convinced.
He then continues by sharing how his thinking was changed and spends the balance of the book explaining why. His conclusions are compelling and make an excellent case for believing that capitalism is truly the only Christian system (albeit imperfect because sin is still present with us) in the world today and is the vehicle by which God can bless people and meet their needs.
My dear, 20-year-old son read this over and over while he was navigating a relationship with a young lady. In a world full of murky boundaries, the steady voice of Elizabeth Elliot gave him a solid foundation from which to operate.
In her conversational way, Elliot gives young people an honest picture of what God-honoring relationships can look like. It is a good way to prepare young people for the challenges of romantic involvement.
(After reading this book, he went on to read Jim Elliot’s biography, In the Shadow of the Almighty, another encouraging book for young men).
This one is more light reading, but very eye-opening. We learned so much about economics together–what inflation really is, the true effects of labor unions, etc. Now when the children hear a pundit or politician speaking about money policy, they can read between the lines.
Something we all need to be armed with before we make major money decisions, or even before we go to the polls to vote!
This is a paper back-sized book that is jam-packed with information! One of my sons took this to bed one night and read until his eyes were sore.
Just about everything and anything having to do with the refutation of evolution is included, with an expanded pdf version available online.
So much scientific information is covered that a young person could count a detailed study of this book as high school science credits. Astronomy, geology, biology, physics, etc. are all covered. There are even exercises at the end of each chapter which are categorized according to approximate grade levels.
And…this one is super cheap–just $4.89 on Amazon.com!
This is one of our favorite non-fiction books of all time! Just as Wiker’s book has given us the keys to modern philosophy and culture, Laurie White has given us the keys to unraveling the mysteries of our language. Via this tome we have become better spellers with more expanded vocabulary and a way to decipher words we’ve never seen before. We even have a greater appreciation for how our Bible came to us.
Actually, this one is an English book and a history book combined, only without all of the boring parts.
We read this one with relish, enjoying each chapter very slowly as we delved deeply using the additional resources suggested on the website, The Shorter Word. This included viewing a video series put out by the BBC about the evolution of the English language and even a reading of Beowulf (one of my favorite epic poems).
I first read this book when I was a teen myself, and I have enjoyed it about eight times since. Because of its influence, I have been able to be an effective witness for Christ to my Jewish friends. Reading this together with my children brought to light our need to defend the Jewish people and Israel in particular, no matter what others may be doing.
Besides this, there is so much evidence of the workings of God in the deepest and darkest of human experiences. It also enlightens and informs young people of the outcomes of ideas that were presented in 10 Books That Screwed up the World.
Here is a book much like The Hiding Place, but this one is situated in Romania around the time of the communist takeover. This is an autobiography by Richard Wurmbrand, the founder of The Voice of the Martyrs. Not only is this a powerful testimony of a man totally sold-out for his Savior, but also a chronicle of the destruction of a whole nation due to the iron fist of communism.
In fact, Wurmbrand exposes the lies of atheism, socialism, and communism and gives examples of ways to communicate with those caught up in these deceptions.
This one has to be taken in small increments and balanced out with lighter reading, since some situations described are dire indeed. And yet, it is necessary for young people to look into the lives of others who were willing to sacrifice their own safety and comfort for the sake of a higher good. This one really seems to speak to the idealism young people crave.
Also set during World War II, but at the opposite end of the world from where The Hiding Place occurred, the young woman in this account was a prisoner in a Japanese concentration camp. She shares testimony after testimony of how God met her needs and helped her through the whole ordeal. One of my favorites is when she is suffering from dysentery and malnutrition to the point that she is unable to stand and asks God for a single banana while telling Him she understands it is an impossible request. Almost immediately, her cell opens and 99 bananas are thrown in!
A faith-builder that challenged us to trust God and expect Him to show up in the most unlikely places.
Depression is rampant among young people. Life is overwhelming; so many choices, so much conflict in the world. Passions stir, and hormones rage.
This book is like a prescription; it takes Philippians 4:8 and expounds on it so that it can be thoroughly applied.
Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].
Philippians 4:8 (amplified)
Reading (and applying) this book will make depression almost impossible!
*note–I don’t swallow everything Mr. Newberry says whole, but I do appreciate the heart of what he is saying and find it very effective in bringing one’s thoughts in line with faith in a loving God.
This book continues in the same vein as The 4:8 Principle, but with more examples that really bring the message home.
Peale explains that the word enthusiasm literally means, “God in you.” He includes so many interesting stories that it is hard to put the book down. It is one thing to spout of theories, another to showcase real-life examples. I have an 18 year old who reads a portion of this book every day (and it really does make a marvelous difference).
If you know anything about young people, you know that dealing correctly with emotions is one of their greatest challenges. Even us adults rarely know exactly how to deal with them (our emotions and our emotional teens)!
I love this teaching (you can also listen to it for free online) because it is totally based on scriptural principles with an understanding that you can’t even start without being transformed by Christ on the inside.
Reading this will not only set teens free, but bring peace to the entire home.
So, there you have it; a pretty good list of books fo shaping minds and transforming hearts. It’s not perfect, and obviously incomplete, but I hope this gives you a place to start looking for your own compilation.