Fabulous Children’s Books

by Wendy Claire Barrie

Why not start the New Year with a resolve to read to a child? Or add to your church’s collection of children’s books for that book rack in the narthex?

Old Testament

  • Big Momma Makes the World by Phyllis Root – A wonderful retelling of Creation
  • Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden illustrated by Jane Ray – A telling of the Second Creation story
  • In Our Image: God’s First Creatures by Nancy Sohn Swartz
  • Light by Jane Breskin Zalbin  (out of print)  This one is worth looking for – Jewish midrash on tikkun olam, the concept that we were created to help God heal the world
  • Noah’s Ark illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
  • Noah’s Wife: The Story of Naamah by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso – Also midrash-based; Namaah was charged by God to save each plant on earth
  • Sarah Laughs by Jacqueline Jules
  • The White Ram by Mordecai Gerstein – Another midrash-based book, a very sensitive story about Abraham and Isaac
  • The Coat of Many Colors by Jenny Koralek – The Story of Joseph
  • The Moses Basket  by Jenny Koralek – The Story of Moses; The Exodus
  • Exodus illustrated by Brian Wildsmith
  • The 11th Commandment: Wisdom From Our Children by the Children of America  (Jewish Lights Publishing) – Children of different faith traditions share their ideas for the 11th commandment
  • Jonah’s Whale by Eileen Spinelli (from Eerdmans)


  • Does God Know How to Tie Shoes? by Nancy White Carlstrom
  • Glory by Nancy White Carlstrom
  • On Morning Wings by Reeve Lindbergh
  • Psalm Twenty-Three  illustrated by Tim Ladwig The illustrations give children a context for understanding this psalm
  • Psalms for Young Children  by Marie-Helene Delval
  • Words of Gold: A Treasury of the Bible’s Poetry and Wisdom selected by Lois Rock – Since so many children’s Bibles omit Psalms, this is a lovely classroom supplement

New Testament

  • The Parables of Jesus by Tomie de Paola
  • Parables: Stories Jesus Told by Mary Hoffman
  • God’s Little Seeds by Bijou le Tord – The Parable of the Mustard Seed and the Parable of the Sower for preschool ages
  • The Light of the World : The Life of Jesus for Children by Katherine Paterson T
  • Jesus, the Word by Mark Bozzuti-Jones 
  • The Lord’s Prayer illustrated by Tim Ladwig – Again, the illustrations give a wonderful contemporary context for this prayer
  • The Lord’s Prayer for Children by Lois Rock Good –  for preschool ages
  • Our Father: The Prayer that Jesus Taught by Mary Joslin
  • The Man and the Vine by Jane G. Meyer – Holy Eucharist
  • The Beatitudes from Slavery to Civil Rights by Carol Boston Weatherford

St. Francis

  • The Song of Francis and the Animals by Pat Mora – Great for preschoolers
  • The Circle of Days by Reeve Lindbergh – “The Canticle of the Sun” in child-friendly language
  • St. Francis by Brian Wildsmith – For older children; gorgeously illustrated


  • The Legend of St. Nicholas by Demi
  • The Donkey’s Dream by Barbara Helen Berger
  • Little One, We Knew You’d Come by Sally Lloyd-Jones –  Lovely for preschoolers
  • The Fourth King by Ted Sieger
  • How Many Miles to Bethlehem?  by Kevin Crossley-Holland

Lent and Easter

  • The First Easter by Carol Heyer
  • The Story of Easter by Brian Wildsmith
  • At Jerusalem’s Gate: Poems of Easter by Nikki Grimes – For older elementary and up —would be wonderful to use in a Holy Week service
  • Rechenka’s Eggs by Patricia Pollacco


  • A is for Altar, B is for Bible by Judith Lang Main – Symbols of the Holy Eucharist Uses imagery from Catechesis of the Good Shepherd
  • Because Nothing Looks Like God by Lawrence Kushner and Karen Kushner – Wonderful for interfaith conversations
  • Images of God for Young Children by Marie-Helene Delval  Highly recommended
  • In God’s Name by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso
  • Old Turtle by Douglas Wood
  • A Faith Like Mine by Laura Buller – A great resource for talking about different faith traditions
  • Faith by Maya Ajmera, Magda Nakassis & Cynthia Pon Photographs of  children’s experiences; interfaith
  • Dog Heaven and Cat Heaven by Cynthia Rylant – Sound theology, very comforting
  • God’s Dream by Desmond Tutu – A wonderful recent picture book for preschoolers
  • If Jesus Came to My House by Joan G. Thomas – A classic
  • The Tale of Three Trees by Angela Elwood Hunt


  • A World of Prayers by Jeremy Brooks
  • Praying in Color: Kids’ Edition by Sybil MacBeth
  • The Classic Treasury of Children’s Prayer  selected by Susan Cuthbert
  • The Lion Book of Best-Loved Prayers written and compiled by Mary Joslin
  • Prayers for Each and Every Day by Sophie Piper
  • When Daddy Prays by Nikki Grimes

Board Books 

  • Creation Story by Joanna Bicknell
  • Noah’s Ark by Lucy Cousins
  • Where is God? by Lawrence and Karen Kushner
  • What Does God Look Like? by Lawrence and Karen Kushner
  • How Does God Make Things Happen? by Lawrence and Karen Kushner
  • Who is Coming to Our House? by Joseph Slate
  • Room For a Little One by Martin Waddell


  • Children of God Storybook Bible by Desmond Tutu
  • The Bible for Young Children by Marie-Helene Delval
  • The Children’s Illustrated Bible by Selina Hastings
  • The Bible for Children by Murray Watts
  • Spark Story Bible from Augsburg Fortress
  • Spark NRSV from Augsburg Fortress

What would you add to this list?

Wendy Claire Barrie is the Children’s & Family Minister at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in New York City and Vice-President of Forma. 

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