Thursday, July 03, 2008

Essential Reading Curriculum: Church Youth & Parents

Parent/Youth Essential Reading Curriculum
(Blog: Doctrine Matters, Plano, Texas, July 3, 2008)

First of all, a big "Thank You" to everyone who contributed comments to my earlier post, Church Youth "Must Reads" List: What Say You?

Creating a list such as this - an essential reading curriculum for the youth (and their parents) of our church - is a daunting task, and one full of inherent shortcomings, the main being - you simply cannot list every essential book that could, or should, be read.

This list is by no means exhaustive, and presumes that many of the classics and other "must reads" are already part of the youth's school or home reading. I've operated under such an assumption (and yes, I know what happens when one "assumes") as most of the youth of our church are home schooled (many in the classical method).

And while this list may appear a bit ambitious for today's youth, remember, this list is for youth and their parents to work through each year - together, talking about it, learning from it, and growing together in the knowledge and admonition of the Lord! Besides, let's not shy away from pushing our youth to higher things, and doing hard things (little plug there for the Harris' The Rebelution).

So, I could go on with all the caveat applicable to such a project, but alas, let's get to the list.

Here was my query: If a church asked you to fashion a reading curriculum for the youth (and their parents) of its congregation, 1st grade through 12th grade, consisting of yearly "must reads," grade-by-grade, with one or more fictional, non-fictional, and Biblical/theological/doctrinal works, how would you advise?

Here's the list -


1st Grade:
The Lightlings, R.C. Sproul
The King Without a Shadow, R.C. Sproul
The Child's Story Bible, Catherine Vos
The Gospel for Children, John B. Leuzarder
The Big Book of Questions and Answers About Jesus, Sinclair Ferguson

2nd Grade:
Dangerous Journey, John Bunyan, Ed. Oliver Hunkin
The Child's Story Bible, Catherine Vos
Grandpa's Box: Retelling the Biblical Story of Redemption, Starr Meade

3rd Grade:
Against the World, Henry Coray
The 100 Most Important Events in Christian History, A. Kenneth Curtis, et al.
Heroes of the Reformation: Life-Changing Lessons for the Young, Richard Newton
Training Hearts, Teaching Minds, Starr Meade

4th Grade:
Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis (box set)
Luther the Leader, Virgil Robinson
Ten Boys/Ten Girls Who Changed the World (box sets), Irene Howat
Training Hearts, Teaching Minds, Starr Meade

5th Grade:
The Young Peacemaker: Teaching Students to Respond to Conflict God's Way, Corlette Sande (Kit, grades 3-7)
Visible Saints: The History of a Puritan Idea, Edmund S. Morgan
Survey of the Bible, William Hendriksen
According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible, Graeme Goldsworthy

6th Grade:
Adventures Of Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe
The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom
The Gospel for Real Life, Jerry Bridges

(Interim Recommended Reading: Shelf Life: How Books Have Changed the Destinies and Desires of People and Nations, George Grant; Read Any Good Books, Sinclair B. Ferguson; and Invitation to the Classics: A Guide to Books You've Always Wanted to Read, Eds. Louise Cowan & Os Guinness)

7th Grade:
The Pilgrim's Progress, John Bunyan
Church History Plain Language, Bruce L. Shelley
Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations, Alex & Brett Harris
Chosen by God, R.C. Sproul
The Holiness of God, R.C. Sproul

(Interim Essential Purchases: Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem; Concise Theology, J.I. Packer; and How to Read Slowly: Reading for Comprehension, James W. Sire)

8th Grade:
Crown & Covenant Trilogy, Douglas Bond
Confessions, St. Augustine of Hippo (Ed. Henry Chadwick)
The Heidelberg Catechism: A Study Guide, G.I. Williamson
Knowing God, J.I. Packer

9th Grade:
The Screwtape Letters & Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis
The Peacemaker (Student Ed.), Ken Sande
Humility: The True Greatness, C.J. Mahaney
Living the Cross-Centered Life, C.J. Mahaney
Basic Christianity & Cross of Christ, John Stott

10th Grade:
The Bondage of the Will, Martin Luther
Christianity and Liberalism, J. Gresham Machen
The Sovereignty of God, Arthur W. Pink (Baker Books edition)
Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, J.I. Packer
Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer

11th Grade:
Hostage Lands, Douglas Bond
Reading Between The Lines, Gene Edward Veith Jr.
Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography, Iain H. Murray
The Great Exchange, Jerry Bridges
The Truth of the Cross, R.C. Sproul
The Atonement: Its Meaning and Significance, Leon Morris

12th Grade:
Paradise Lost, John Milton
John Owen on the Christian Life, Sinclair B. Ferguson
Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
The Reason for God: Belief in God in an Age of Skepticism, Timothy Keller
The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross, Leon Morris

Day by Day with the Early Church Fathers, Eds. Christopher D. Hudson, J. Alan Sharrer
Day by Day with the English Puritans: Selected Readings for Daily Reflection, Ed. Randall Pederson
Heart Aflame: Daily Readings From Calvin on the Psalms, John Calvin
Help Heavenward, Octavius Winslow
How Great Thou Art, Steve Halliday
Morning and Evening, Charles H. Spurgeon
The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, Ed. Arthur Bennett
Walking with God Day by Day 365 Daily Devotional Selections, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Pre-College Prep:
How to Stay Christian in College, J. Budziszewski
Ask Me Anything: Provocative Answers for College Students, J. Budziszewski
Think Biblically, John MacArthur
Above All Earthly Powers: Christ in a Postmodern World, David F. Wells


Middle School/Junior High -
> A Shepherd Looks at , W. Phillip Keller
> Christian Beliefs: Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know, Wayne Grudem
> Don't Check Your Brains at the Door, Josh McDowell
> Growing Up Christian: Have You Taken Ownership of Your Relationship With God?, Karl Graustein & Mark Jacobsen
> More Than a Carpenter, Josh McDowell
> Passion and Purity: Learning to Bring Your Love Life Under Christ's Control, Elisabeth Elliot
> Thoughts for Young Men, J.C. Ryle
> Understanding the Bible, John Stott
> When God Writes Your Love Story, Eric & Leslie Ludy

High School -
> A Quest for Godliness: Puritan Vision of the Christian Life, J.I. Packer
> All of Grace, Charles H. Spurgeon (Study Guide, Ch. 1-5, Ch. 6-10)
> City of God, St. Augustine of Hippo (Transl. Henry Bettenson)
> Don't Waste Your Life, John Piper
> Francis Schaeffer Trilogy (The God Who Is There; Escape from Reason; He Is There and He Is Not Silent), Francis Schaeffer
> Hard to Believe: The High Cost and Infinite Value of Following Jesus, John MacArthur
> How Long, O Lord?, D.A. Carson
> Knowing Scripture, R.C. Sproul
> I Am Not But I Know I Am: Little Me, Infinite God, Louie Giglio
> In Understanding Be Men, T. Hammond (IVPress, 1983)
> Lectures on Calvinism, Abraham Kuyper
> Lectures to My Students, Charles H. Spurgeon
> Now, That's A Good Question, R.C. Sproul
> The Calvinistic Concept of Culture, Henry R. Van Til
> The Case for the Real Jesus, Lee Strobel
> The Cruelty of Heresy, C. FitzSimons Allison
> The Devoted Life: An Invitation to the Puritan Classics, Ed. Kelly M. Kapic
> The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment, Tim Challies
> The Enemy Within: Straight Talk About the Power and Defeat of Sin, Kris Lundgaard
> The Legacy of Sovereign Joy: God's Triumphant Grace in the Lives of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin, John Piper
> The Micah Mandate: Balancing the Christian Life, George Grant
> The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, Josh McDowell
> Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity, Mark A. Noll
> Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Ed. John Piper
> Redemption Accomplished and Applied, John Murray
> Your Mind Matters: The Place of the Mind in the Christian Life, John Stott & Mark A. Noll

God's Attributes:
> Attribute of God, Arthur W. Pink
> The Doctrine of God, Herman Bavinck
> The Doctrine of God: A Theology of Lordship, John Frame
> The Existence and Attributes of God, Stephen Charnock
> The Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer

> Religious Affections, Jonathan Edwards
> The Bruised Reed, Richard Sibbes
> The Mortification of Sin, John Owen
> The Mystery of Providence, John Flavel
> The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, Jeremiah Burroughs
> The True Bounds of Christian Freedom, Samuel Bolton

> A Life of John Calvin, Alister E. McGrath
> Augustine of Hippo: A Biography, Peter Brown
> Calvin and Augustine, B.B. Warfield
> B. B. Warfield: Essays on His Life and Thought, Gary L. W. Johnson
> George Muller of Bristol: His Life of Prayer and Faith, A.T. Pierson
> Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther, Roland H. Bainton
> J. Gresham Machen: A Guided Tour of His Life and Thought, Stephen J. Nichols
> John Bunyan - His Life, Times And Work, John Brown
> John Owen: The Man and His Theology, Sinclair B. Ferguson
> Jonathan Edwards: A Life, George M. Marsden
> Jonathan Edwards - A New Biography, Iain H. Murray
> Life and Times of George Whitefield, Robert Philip
> Meet the Puritans, Joel R. Beeke & Randall J. Pederson
> The Forgotten Spurgeon, Iain H. Murray
> The Life of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (2 Vols.), Iain H. Murray
> The Life of George Whitefield (2 Vol.), Arnold Dallimore
> The Life of John Newton, Josiah Bull
> William Tyndale: A Biography, David Daniell

Further Reading Lists:
> What are some books that DG recommends? (Desiring God Ministries, January 23, 2006)
> The City of God and the City of Man: Recommended Reading on Christian Engagement in Culture (Justin Taylor, Desiring God Ministries, July 20, 2005)
> Topical Recommended Reading List (Ligonier Ministries)
> Literary Lists (George Grant, King's Meadow)

To download the list in .pdf, click here.


At 7/04/2008 4:08 PM, Blogger Patrick Chan said...

Thanks for such a solid reading list!

Also, I thought Steve Hays had some great recommendations as well: here; here; here; here; here; here; here; and here.

Again, thanks for compiling your list.

At 7/04/2008 8:47 PM, Blogger Kat said...

woha! thanks for the list :) it's very useful

At 7/06/2008 7:59 PM, Blogger Corner Creature said...

I'd be surprised (and pleased) if our pastor could get our elders to start reading on the list at the grade 7 level.

At 7/07/2008 8:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the list. I posted it to my youth blog.

At 7/07/2008 9:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Tom

Its Nate Palmer, your fellow grace churcher. Do you have any recommendations for early years say 3-5?

At 7/07/2008 10:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Go Big Red! A wonderful books list, which I have forwarded to my daughters (20 and 17). I was pastor in Lincoln for 13 years, so I love your crucial doctrinal/bigred orientation. Grace to you.

At 7/07/2008 4:45 PM, Blogger A. Sutono said...

May I suggest "Redeeming the Time" by Leland Ryken, a magnum opus on the Christian view of work and leisure; specifically for high-school seniors and college students?

At 8/22/2008 10:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just came upon this list. Excellent work. Thank you.

Warmly in Christ,

At 8/28/2008 10:00 PM, Blogger Just Melody said...

Thank you for sharing this list. :)

At 9/11/2008 11:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also like your list and the inclusion of the parents. Our youth groups need to be parent driven.

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