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Devotionals for Younger Teens

The other day a customer asked about some suggestions for their younger teenage girl and after chatting a bit, I sent them a list of recommended books.  Yesterday, an older brother of a middle school fella asked for some ideas.  Again, there were so many that I could suggest, but none, really, that was the perfect thing.  So much, as I suggested to each of them, depends on the particular kid, their interests, academic level, developmental stage, interest in their own faith development and such.

I've got plenty of academic resources for serious youth workers or parents, and other resources on nurturing the faith of teenagers, for parents, youth leaders, or mentors.  The request, though, was for short devotionals, for thoughtful, somewhat dedicated younger youth.  Hmmm...

Here are my two little lists, offered to those particular customers, who had told me more about the youngster in their life, and their particular interests and hopes for the book.  Here's what I came up with, for starters.  Thought somebody out there might like to see them, or add others.

FIRST, THE LIST FOR YOUNG, SERIOUS TEENAGE [MOSTLY] GALS

Love This.jpgLove This: Leaning to Make it a Way of Life, Not Just a Word  Andy Braner (invert) $12.99  I love this as it invites youth to see how to love others. Some chapters are fairly routine, others get into their perceptions and possibly ministry with often needy groups---homeless folks, homosexuals, etc.  Very nice Bible studies with excellent application to real life.
 
Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ Dallas Willard and Randy Frazee (think) $9.99  The extraordinary work by Dallas Willard (Renovation of the Heart) put into an interactive journal for youth.  All about becoming more Christ-like by submitting to His spirit to change us---from the inside out.  Great, but a bit demanding, more as a book to think through together than little devotions.
 
Stories for the Extreme Teens Hearts  compiled by Alice Gray (Multnomah) $12.99  Sort of like "Chicken Soup for the Soul" this is a great collection of stories of real teens, who say "yes" to God.  Many of the entries are drawn from other books, good excerpts from here and there.  Most readings conclude with a Scripture next, or something to thing about.
 
My Time With God for Students (Nelson) $14.99  The passage of the day is actually written out, with a reflection, questions, closing prayer, etc.  Pretty cool, for a whole year, in the easy-to-read NCV.
 
Devotions for the Soul Surfer Bethany Hamilton (Word) $13.99  Many young girls look up to this blond, brave and very determined teen (who lost her arm, but still surfs competitively as a 16 year old.)  Here, she offers her bits of insights for daily living, with a closing verse at the end of each reading. Pretty fun stuff.
 
What's A Girl To Do? Finding Faith in Everyday Life  Dristi Holl Zondervan) $9.99  This is a 90 day reading from the FaithGirlz series, which were designed for middle schoolers.  This might be a bit youngish for your daughter, but it is very cool, very relevant, and nicely done.  We've liked the juvenile novels and daily living guides they've done, and here they've given the book a slightly more mature look, but still for 12-14 year olds, I'd say.  Nice.
 
Burn This Book: Ignite a New Life With God  Garth Heckman (refuge) $10.99  This uses the burn and ignite and be on fire metaphors through-out (my son would have liked that in his younger highschool days!)  The author invites kids to really get committed, to allow God to burn away the "wood, hay, and stubble" of their lives (I Corinthians 3:12-13.)  The discussion questions are called "kindling starters."

NEXT, THE LIST FOR MIDDLE SCHOOL [MOSTLY]GUYS

Live Like a Jesus Freak: Spend Today as if it were your Last DC Talk (Albury) 12.99  A very cool, textured brown paperback, with rough-cut think cream paper, this looks a bit like an old journal, and it is a call to radical Christ-following commitment, with a reminder of how others have done this through the ages.  Pretty handsome, kinda cool, fairly serious, and even if dc Talk are not longer at the top of the charts, they've pretty solid guys. 
 
Dirty Faith: Becoming the Hands and Fee of Jesus  Audio Adrenaline (think) $12.99  It doesn't matter if Audio is not so popular as a band anymore, this is a great book about actually following Jesus, serving Him in daily ways, and with concern for the needy, poor, lost, etc.  Has a great, hard, missional feel to it, using the Message paraphrase.  I'm very impressed with this simple call to make a difference by being Christ's agents.
 
My Faith  Kurt Johnston & Mark Oestreicher (invert) $9.99  This is from a recent line of books for middle schoolers put out by youth specialty.  There is one on family, one on friends, one on school, this one on faith.  Pretty darn nice, designed for middle school kids.
 
2:52 Devotions to Take You Deeper Ed Strauss (Zonderkidz) $9.99  This is a devotional that goes along with the whole 2:52 line (Jesus grew "smarter, stronger, deeper, cooler" as they paraphrase Luke 2:52 in the series tagline.)  On the back it says these are "A Daily Dose of Wisdom to Help a Boy Grow Strong in Spirit" and it isdevotions to take you deeper.jpg perfect for this age group.  I think these are solid, interesting, kinda edgy, to retain the interest of younger boys.  A 90-day devotional, highly recommended. 
 
Burn This Book: Ignite a New Life WIth God  Garth Heckman (refuge) $10.99  This comes with a parental advisory label on the front, indicating that the chiled just may burn this thing;  the ignite and burn and get on fire metaphor is carried on relentlessly (and they really do advise you to burn the book, in kind of a closure ritual, indicating your going to live it out, and not keep it abstract, on paper.)  There are 30 Devotions, some further stuff called "Fire Facts" relevant quotes, "fire starter" discussion/reflection questions.  Beside the getting fired up image, it is a study of i Corinthians 3:12-134, about God burning away the wood, hay, stuble, etc... When my son was younger, this would have been about the only thing he'd read.  Even now, if it involves blowing stuff up (he's 20, on a road trip to Chatanooga tonight, in fact, to go rock climbing) he just might be interested.
 
How to Be Your Own Selfish Pig  Susan Schaeffer Macaulay (illustrated by Slug Signorino)  $9.95  This is a bit dated---a long, horizontal book with cartoons---as it came out about 20 years ago.  It was written by Francis Schaeffer's daughter, for middle school kids;  very sharp, on the meaning of life, the nature of truth, how we know stuff, how to resist the dehumanization that comes from American culture and the tendencies to not take character fromation seriously.  This is the closest thing to "worldview" formation and apologetics that is youth-friendly, fun, goofy, and really, really important.  Not a devotional, but a surprising book, I think, and some folks think it is fabulous, still.

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3 Comments

Hi Byron,
My name is Beth Neu and I'm the Member Liaison for the National Church Library Association. FOr more information about our organization, please visit our website www.churchlibraries.org.

I've recommended your website/blog site to our members because I think you do a really fine job of both finding excellent Christian Literature and providing thoughtful commentary about it. I'd like to continue to point our readers your way-especially your list of devotionals for teens-and wanted to be sure that it was okay with you. I found your site on the Wildmingsquare blog.

Let me know if I can tell our readers anything else about you.

Blessings,
Beth Neu

Macaulay's "...Own Selfish Pig" is fantastic. It was really key in my thinking Christianly about the broader world (beyond the church) from a fairly young age. (I think I was 12 or so when I read it.) Though my reading and thinking got deeper, of course, as I got older, the ideas presented there still continue to guide me as a culture-creator in my mid-30s.

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