Thursday, June 05, 2008

Church Youth "Must Reads" List: What Say You?

**Updated Below**

If a church asked you to fashion a reading curriculum for the youth of the congregation, 1st grade through 12th grade, consisting of yearly “must reads,” grade-by-grade, with one or more fictional, non-fictional, and Biblical/theological works, how would you advise?

My main focus: Biblical/theological/doctrinal works.

Is there already a list of which you are aware that you would access and provide? If so, what is that list and where might it be obtained?

Or would such a curriculum have to be created? And if created, what book(s) would you recommend for each grade, in each category?

I thought about putting together such a list after talking with some guys at church about what we’d love to see the kids of our church read by the time they graduate, i.e., “these are the books that we want to make sure the youth have read while in our care.”

I appreciate your thoughts and suggestions. Please forward/link to friends and family and ask them to weigh in as well.

The resulting reading list is posted here.


At 6/09/2008 3:22 PM, Blogger Puritan Lad said...

I'll begin with "The Pilgrim's Progess". I'll add more later, but every youth should read Bunyan's classic.

At 6/09/2008 5:59 PM, Blogger TSHusker said...

You're absolutely right! Right now I have, for 2nd grade, the book, Dangerous Journey, edited by Oliver Hunkin; and Pilgrim’s Progress at the 9th grade.

Please let me know more thoughts and suggestions!


At 6/13/2008 7:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check out Veritas Press. They have a lot of good material and you can look at it by grade.

At 6/13/2008 8:42 AM, Blogger Brett said...

"Knowing God" by JI Packer 11th - 12th grade

At 6/13/2008 9:06 AM, Blogger James McCullough said...

John Piper: Don't Waste Your Life

At 6/13/2008 9:21 AM, Blogger Andy Wright said...

For Adolescents...

Thoughts for Young Men
Do Hard Things
Don't Waste Your Life

At 6/13/2008 9:44 AM, Anonymous Jeff Mingee said...

Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper
Pleasures of God by Piper
Concise Theology by J.I. Packer
How to Stay Christian in College by J. Budz... (I don't know how to spell it!)
The Reason for God by Tim Keller

For High School Students:
Who Made God? Ravi Zacharias
Shadow of the Almighty: The Life of Jim Elliot by Elisabeth Elliot
Now, That's A Good Question by R.C. Sproul
Your Mind Matters by John Stott

For Middle School Students:
Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris
Heroes of the Faith biographies

At 6/13/2008 9:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We require our own high school children to read "A Shepherd Looks at the Twenty-Third Psalm" by Phillip Keller, "Mere Christianity" by CS Lewis, "How Long, O Lord?" by DA Carson, "Systematic Theology" by Wayne Grudem, and "Why We're Not Emergent" by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck. (Plan on Systematic Theology taking all four years of high school.) And the dads need to be reading the same things. Don't get me started on youth groups! >:o
: D
Noel Adams

At 6/13/2008 10:49 AM, Blogger Pastor Timothy said...

1. The Cross-Centered Life by CJ Mahaney
2. Humility by CJ Mahaney
3. Stop Dating the Church by Joshua Harris
4. The Knowledge of the Holy by Tozer
5. Systematic Theology by Grudem
6. i am not but i know I AM by Louie Giglio
7. Don't Waste Your Life by Piper
8. Do Hard Things by Alex & Brett Harris
9. Doing Things Right In Matters of the Heart by Ensor
10. The Legacy of Sovereign Joy by Piper

At 6/13/2008 11:46 AM, Blogger Puritan Lad said...

Richard Hooker - Of the Laws of Ecclestical Polity.

I'll be interested in seeing your final list.

At 6/13/2008 11:51 AM, Blogger Puritan Lad said...

And definitely William Bradford's "Of Plymouth Plantation".

The original Mayflower Compact would be a good side note as well.

At 6/13/2008 2:21 PM, Blogger Wielding the Sword said...

Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot is a MUST READ for adolescents, especially girls.

At 6/13/2008 3:18 PM, Blogger Mike Odlyzko said...

I heartily affirm the recommendations of Packer's "Knowing God" and Piper's "Don't Waste Your Life." More controversial would be Mark Driscoll's "Vintage Jesus." Whatever your stance on Driscoll's use of incisive humor and questionably tasteful language (he seems to be maturing in this area), he giftedly impresses a well-rounded, biblically faithful portrait of Christ upon the hearts and minds of young readers. There's a reason that Wayne Grudem - who has accosted John Piper for using the word "ass" at a Passion conference - endorsed it.

As an undergraduate college student involved with InterVarsity, I know many folks who have appreciated Stott's "Basic Christianity" and "Cross of Christ," although I have not read either myself.

At 6/13/2008 11:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't Waste Your Life - Piper
Knowing God - Packer
Accordng to Plan - Goldsworthy
Hard to Believe - MacArthur
He is There and He is not Silent - Schaeffer
Christian Living Beyond Belief - McManus
Basic Christianity - Stott
Think Biblically - MacArthur
Church History: An Essential Guide - González

Fiction and Non-fiction:
The Nicomachean Ethics - Aristotle
The Republic - Plato
The Iliad - Homer
The Odyssey - Homer
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Twain
A Tale of Two Cities - Dickens
Beyond Good and Evil - Nietzsche
Why I am Not a Christian - Russell
The Art Of War - Sun Tzu
Brave New World - Huxley
The Count of Monte Cristo - Dumas

Just have them pick popular books from different time periods by different authors that have impacted history. Five books from the Penguin Classics series would be good.

At 6/14/2008 4:59 AM, Blogger Sharon said...

I commend you for thinking about how you can encourage parents to help build up their children's faith.

Junior primary aged children:
~ The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones
~ Dangerous Journey as already mentioned
~ At this age it is just important for parents to get into the habit of reading aloud with their children, because many do not prioritise it. Selections from children's classics which are enjoyable but not necessarily overtly Christian can assist with developing this habit (such as AA Milne, Beatrix Potter, Rev W Awdry, JM Barrie, Kenneth Grahame, RL Stevenson)
~ Apostle's Creed or Nicene Creed or both, often
~ You didn't mention it but this is the age to begin memorising Bible verses through recitation.

Primary aged children:
~ The Bible, in a chronologically arranged edition, once every year or two (being discerning about what can be left out eg the rape of Dinah, but not the crucifixion) - using the gospels of Mark and Luke in particular, because their narrative is easier for younger children to understand and learn from.
~ Biographies of saints (not in the Catholic sense but the biblical one) such as Augustine, Luther, Calvin, J Hudson Taylor, Corrie Ten Boom, that guy who wrote Amazing Grace etc.
~ The Shorter (Westminster) Catechism - this would be a great "devotional" for families to study through together, reading all of the references.
~ CS Lewis' "Chronicles of Narnia" would be a good fiction selection.
~ This is the last time of life when children will be able to memorise Bible verses almost without effort through recitation. Encourage parents to make the most of it!

Secondary aged children:
~ The Bible, especially the gospels (particularly Matthew's and John's more structured/rhetorical accounts) and epistles.
~ Many books by CS Lewis could be great reads for this age, especially "The Screwtape Letters".
~ More advanced Christian biographies and some autobiographies.
~ The Westminster Confession would be ideal to be studied by families together.
~ JRR Tolkein's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy would go down well with some in the area of fiction but the genre is not for all.
~ "How to Read a Book" by Mortimer J Adler - although parents should keep in mind this is written by a non-believer so some comments on ideas may require discussion. Along with this they could read "Understanding the Bible" by JRW Stott

For senior secondary students:
~ The Bible
~ I would consider tackling "Orthodoxy" by GK Chesterton and "Knowing God" by JI Packer over Grudem's work. Have none of the people who commented above ever met a teenager? Even these two works are difficult to digest! Systematic Theology is great as a reference resource, but it's a tome. If it is on the list, as one commenter suggested, it has to be expected to take four years to study. Be more realistic in your goals and you will be far more successful. And what is it with "Don't waste your life"? - I found that book wandering and very badly argued. And the examples do not relate well to a teenager's life, IMO. I do like "In Understanding Be Men" by Hammond and Wright although this is a complex work despite it's relative brevity. It has questions for discussion at the end of each section which would help parents, although again, is a heavy read for teens on their own. "Concise Theology" by Packer is an easier read for those families with students who are unable to cope with the rigour of these other works.
~ I'd like to recommend a good book on Biblical ethics but one doesn't come to mind. I have seen "How now shall we live?" by Colson and Pearcy recommended by others, but have not yet read it myself.

I'd hand the graduates "Invitation to the Classics" by Cowan and Guinness and tell them to find something else from there to read for the rest of their lives, along with the Bible, of course!

At 6/14/2008 6:25 PM, Anonymous Katie R. said...

For younger children, I'd recommend The Gospel for Children, by John Leuzarder. It's sort of a systematic theology, but with pictures...

At 6/16/2008 12:31 AM, Blogger brianmetz said...

This is our Recommended Reading List for Summer ‘08
Don’t Waste Your Life – John Piper
Do the Hard Things - Alex and Brett Harris
The Enemy Within: Straight Talk About the Power and Defeat of Sin - Kris Lundgaard
I Kissed Dating Goodbye: A New Attitude Toward Romance and Relationships – Josh Harris
Don’t Buy the Lie: Discerning Truth in a World of Deception – Mark Matlock
Christian Beliefs: Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know – Wayne Grudem
Compelled by Love – Ed Stetzer
Vintage Jesus – Mark Driscoll
The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World – Stephen J. Nichols

Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret – Howard Taylor, Geraldine Taylor
Growing Up Christian: Have You Taken Over Ownership of Your Relationship with God? - Karl Graustein, Mark Jacobsen
If you are up for a real challenge:
Reason For God – Timothy Keller
Desiring God – John Piper

If a student reads three of these before school starts back, I will treat them to some Bruster's ice cream. It's a good way to get them thinking about books they should read and it (hopefully) gets them reading books.

At 6/17/2008 2:44 PM, Anonymous Matthew Cochrane said...

What a thought-provoking question! For younger kids, Dangerous Journey is definitely a great and inspiring read. I devoured that book several times as a youngster.

For late middle school and early high school students, I would recommend Laura Ingalls Little House on the Prairie series, Alcott's Little Women and Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables series for girls. For boys I strongly recommend Tolkien's classic LOTR series and books like Treasure Island and Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stephenson, Sherlock Holmes mysteries, Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn books, and Jack London's adventures (e.g. White Fang, etc.) I think Lewis's Chronicls of Narnia is appropriate for either gender. Other good picks for this age group I think would be Ten Boom's Hiding Place, Keller's A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, and Dobson's Life on the Edge (written specificall for adolescents).

As far as theology and apologetics go, Josh McDowell has some great material for this age group, including Don't Check Your Brain at the Door. My wife and I both studied out of this in high school and it turned me on to all sorts of works on apologetics. If they like this you might want to introduce them to McDowell's Evidence that Demands a Verdict, a more in-depth and grown up version.

For later high school students I think Screwtape Letters, Great Divorce and Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, Foxe's Book of Martyrs, Twelve Ordinary Men and Twelve Extraordinary Women by John MacArthur, and The Hand of God by Bernard Nathanson (a former abortion doctor) are all excellent picks. Other good books for this group would probably include Dr. D. James Kennedy's classic Why I Believe and Now, That's a Good Question by R.C. Sproul.

Thanks for the great question and discussion.
I think Grudem and Piper might be a little advanced for some students but, if you think they can handle it, then those would be great selections.

At 6/30/2008 10:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suggest, "a young christian" by Matthew is on the subject of sober mindedness.

This is a subject which most nelgect in today pulpit. It is like a tatoo today. Young people are treading the church as place of entertainment.

The other will be brother tim challies's book 'the discipline of spiritual dsicernment' . how i wish this book is written when i was teenager !


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