My favourite books for under 5s

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book spread

A Mum on the GodVenture Facebook page asked me this question the other day:

“I imagine you’ve done quite a bit of research. Can I pick your brains? What are your favourite Christian books for 0-5 year olds? Could be Bible-based stories or more vague.”

I love books, so that’s a fab question, but which ones to choose?! So here’s a post with some of my favourites, starting with:

Bible story books

My hands down favourite Bible storybook for under 5s is The Big Bible Storybook from Scripture Union. It’s theologically really well worded for under 5s, which definitely includes under 3s. We had one when our eldest was 1 and they have both read every story with us many times. There are also board books, a Bible Timeline and an audio version. So much wonderfulness.

Other Bible storybooks we like include the Children of God Storybook Bible from Collins, which is edited by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and each story is illustrated by an African artist.

The Strong Tower from SU has a series of Bible stories of children in the Bible in difficult situations. It’s got lovely artwork and is great for chatting about how to deal with, well, difficult situations.

The Easter Story – one of a set called My First Bible Stories. Nice artwork, and fairly well-told stories. Don’t expect theological perfection from books this cheap, and not from a Christian publisher as far as I can tell, but you can always edit the bits you don’t like, and we use these to cut up and make puppets to retell and play the story.

My Easter Egg Hunt by Cathy Porter is a lovely homegrown book in which a little girl discovers why Good Friday is ‘good’ when it seems so sad. Probably best for ages 4 plus

The Secret of Happiness by Jan Godfrey and Honor Ayres from Barnabas at BRF is a great retelling of the sermon on the mount for children. It’s told from the perspective of three children in the crowd and is really very good

Stories Jesus told by Nick Butterworth and Mick Inkpen – fun, lovely pics but not necessarily strict on the Bible

Books about the Bible

Children’s Guide to the Bible by Robert Willoughby – lots of words, but fab for reading to children who’d rather hear about the story in a nonfiction way

Bible Lands – Eye Witness series by DK – this is a brilliant book for children to discover more about the content of the Bible stories they know. As you would expect from DK, the quality of the photos is fab. A great way for children who prefer nonfiction to explore the Bible.

Christian books

Jesus Still Loves Joe and the rest of the Held in Hope series are a must for Christians wanting to share a Christian view on sickness and dying with very young children. They’re created by me and the Chaplains at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and really are accessible ways of starting to talk about these tricky subjects. Get the set here

Anthony Greenfinger’s Apple Disaster is a retelling of a Bible parable. It rhymes and is funny and has the actual parable at the back. Really good to get children into the story and part of a series of 4 books

Xanthe – The Diamond Girl  is a lovely story about a girl who discovers she is precious like a diamond

Sammy Spider’s First Passover by Sylvia A. Rouss – a Jewish book explaining Passover in a way which is accessible by very young children (under 3) We celebrate Passover and other Jewish festivals so we love child-friendly books in this genre

Fabulous ‘normal’ books that (may!) help our faith journey

Quest and Journey – books with no words so great for practising sharing our story together, perhaps seeing when we are in the story better

The Book With No Pictures – the funniest book ever. I took it to nursery and all the children liked it. It’s such a fab way of changing the power dynamic between adults and children, as is very first shall be last

The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers – he’s a fabulous artist and writer. This book is sad and is about loss and grief.

The Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson – a beautiful well written and illustrated book which includes a storyline about loss and new life after bereavement. And also a fab story.

The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson (seeing a link here?) – I found God speaking to me through this book and others – it’s definitely about how my spirit comes to a book, so something which could be encouraged in all books perhaps?

A Squash and a Squeeze by Julia Donaldson – a book about a discontented woman who learns to be content in her situation. Inspired by Paul… maybe

Green Eggs and Ham – funny, joy-filled book which encourages us to try something instead of deciding we don’t like it first. A good life lesson if not totally in the Bible!

Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy by Lynley Todd – a romping rhyming classic story to increase the joy level in your home

I want my hat back by Jon Klassen – a funny story about deception. simple and a great opportunity to chat about taking other people’s things and lying about it!

How Tom Beat Captain Najork and His Hired Sportsmen by Russell Hoben and Quentin Blake – fabulous book where a boy discovers he’s learnt all he needs to know by ‘just playing’

Lastly, for parents

What the Dinosaurs did last night by Refe and Susan Tuma – a brilliant book of photographs of dinosaurs coming alive! Great to spark a bit of fun with adults around Dinovember

What books would you recommend and why?