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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
NEXT, THE LIST FOR MIDDLE SCHOOL [MOSTLY]GUYS
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.
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.
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.
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 is 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
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.
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,