Summer is a wonderful time to dust off that stack of books on your side table or dive into a few new great reads. We asked several of our staff to share a formative book or two that awakened their sense of calling as a follower of Jesus or has helped them and their kids connect deeper with God.
Whether you’re packing for a family vacation, finding time in your days to relax, or looking for new ways to connect with your kids, here is a great list of books to get you started.
1. Adam: God's Beloved by Henri Nouwen
If you have ever been in the trap of finding your worth based on your "doing" rather than your "being", this book is for you! A short, easy read, Adam is the true story of a man with an illustrious career at a prestigious university who leaves it all to work at a home for disabled adults, and finds there the key to understanding God's deep love for us.
Recommended by Annie Erickson in Pretoria, South Africa. Find Adam: God’s Beloved on Amazon.com.
2. Daring Greatly by Brené Brown
The path to wholehearted living is through vulnerability. When we dare to embrace our imperfections and live authentically, we discover a whole new way to live, love, and lead. Brené Brown does a beautiful job exploring what it takes to live this way and what it offers to those around us.
Recommended by Christiana Rice in San Diego, California. Find Daring Greatly on Amazon. com.
3. God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew
It’s easy to think of Brother Andrew as the saintly founder of Open Doors. However, reading his story you realize how amazing the gospel is. Brother Andrew started out as a hardened army killer — suffering from alcoholism and a serious war injury. Over time, God gently and lovingly pursued him so that he was transformed into a radical, prayer-centered leader who was willing to risk everything for the gospel. His is a remarkable story about healing, faith, risk, and the radical renewal available to each of us when we respond to Jesus.
Recommended by Colin Crawley in London, UK. Find God’s Smuggler on Amazon.com.
4. Long Story Short by Marty Machowski
This great devotion for families will take you through the whole Old Testament together in just ten minutes a night. We have been able to dive into the Word together consistently for the first time ever with our five, seven and nine-year-olds, keeping them engaged with the questions and interaction.
Recommended by Alice Collier in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Find Long Story Short on Amazon.com.
5. Loving Our Kids on Purpose by Danny Silk
Some would call our daughter “strong-willed” (and they’d be right). Others would call her “spirited” (and they, too, would be right). I’ve said in the past that although Charlotte is remarkably difficult to raise, if God has his way with her, she will be an absolutely remarkable adult. Loving Our Kids on Purpose has been a breakthrough book for us when it comes to raising our kids, especially Charlotte. Author Danny Silk has helped us discover what it looks like to parent our children in the same way that God parents us—valuing love and relationship above all else. And although life with a three-year-old and one-year-old is never easy, it has become much more peaceful. And for that we are grateful!
Recommended by Christy Aanderud in London, UK. Find Loving Our Kids on Purpose on Amazon.com.
6. The Magic Bicycle Series by John Bibee
This summer we are reading The Magic Bicycle series aloud, and it has given us a great way to discuss spiritual truths. I can remind our youngest (10 years old) to watch out for "the chains", and he knows what I mean because of the experiences of the characters in the book. Or we can talk about why we think certain characters are choosing the way they are, and what the consequences of their choices might be. The books are exciting, which he enjoys, and illustrate great truth, which I enjoy!
Recommended by Jody Hovda in Novi Sad, Serbia. Find The Magical Bicycle on Amazon.com.
7. The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway
I distinctly remember sitting on the couch next to my dad and my other two siblings as we settled in for nightly book readings. One book that left an impression on me was The Old Man and The Sea by Hemingway. An old fisherman, determined to end his streak of bad luck, sets out to catch a big fish. What follows is a tale of a man refusing to be destroyed even if in the end he is defeated. He battles with the biggest catch of his life, and Hemingway beautifully draws out how we become connected with the things we struggle against. As a sensitive child, I felt the fisherman’s love of the fish and understood how he sought to find his place in “the family of things”. I mourned losses with him, reveled in the beauty of creation with him, and found myself struggling alongside him in his little boat. If you want a book that speaks of love, identity, pride, humility, disappointment, and new definitions of victory, this is the one for you.
Recommended by Rachel Kirven in Fullerton, California. Find The Old Man and The Sea on Amazon.com.
8. The Young Peacemaker by Corlette Sande
This book has helped our kids learn how to be “peacemakers” in conflict instead of “peace breakers” or “peace fakers.” I can honestly say that all five of us are learning how hurtful it is to play the “blame game” in a conflict, or even to ignore the conflict all together. We are learning Godly principles when trying to navigate conflict, and we are even learning when we need to ask for help by a third party. Conflict starts in the heart, and all choices have consequences. Our kids are learning this with us. Even our kids can now notice when there is “yucky” in Mommy’s heart that she needs to repent of!
Recommended by Alice Collier in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Find The Young Peacemaker on Amazon.com.
9. Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot
I’m the oldest child in a family of four kids who all grew up to invest significantly in mission and ministry as adults. I’m often asked what in our upbringing got us all passionate about mission, and I always answer the same way: My mom read us a multitude of missionary biographies that became an inspiration and model of what life with God could look like. One of the more impactful classics was Through Gates of Splendor, the story of Jim Elliot and the other four missionary martyrs who went to the Waorani Indians in the jungles of Ecuador. The easier reading biography for children and teenagers, Jim Elliot: One Great Purpose, made it even more memorable. When my family took a trip to see our missionary friends in Ecuador, visited the village where this martyrdom took place, and witnessed the transformation of the gospel first hand, the vision was solidified. That’s when I decided I wanted to give my life to missions.
Recommended by Megan Beehler in Long Beach, California. Find Through Gates of Splendor on Amazon.com.
10. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
This fictional story follows a 10 year old boy with physical deformities as he enters school for the first time. Although the majority of the story is told by the boy himself, there are also sections narrated by his sister and several other secondary characters. It is a great read for the entire family — thoughtful without being somber, uplifting without being cliché, and a poignant reminder of how transformative it is to learn to see from another’s point of view.
Recommended by Catherine Rundle in Redding, California. Find Wonder on Amazon.com.