My 2021 Autumn Booklist

What does fall look like where you live? How does your family participate—or not participate in—Halloween? What is the Thanksgiving holiday really all about? Fall brings changes and traditional fun. Enjoy and navigate this season with your children with some of the books on this list.

Changing Seasons

God’s Blessings of Fall, by Jean Matthew Hall. All the sights and sounds of fall in nature in lyrical, whimsical text and sweet illustrations. (Little Lamb Books, 2019)

Snuggle Time Fall Blessings, by Glenys Nellist. Board book with short, rhyming texts and sweet illustrations. A variety of animals enjoy fall activities, ending with a happy feast. Includes brief mention of Halloween and trick-or-treat. (Zonderkidz, 2019).

Halloween Traditions

The Pumpkin Patch Parable, by Liz Curtis Higgs. Out of print but still available from resellers. A farmer grows a pumpkin and turns it into an amazing sight, just like God’s love transforms us and fills us with His love and light. (Tommy Nelson, 1995)

P Is for Pumpkin: God’s Harvest Alphabet, by Kathy-Jo Wargin. Celebrates all the fun and beauty of the harvest season from A to Z, thanking God for it all. Includes “D is for dress-up” and “T is for trick-or-treat” (the scene is a party) but no specific mention of Halloween. (Zonderkidz, 2008, 2012)

The Pumpkin Gospel, by Mary Manz Simon. As children carve their pumpkin, they hear about how God changes our “ooey-gooey” insides into something beautiful to shine for Him. Glows in the dark! (B&H Kids, 2016)

Let’s Shine Jesus’ Light on Halloween, by Diane Stortz. Out of print but still available from resellers. With Jesus’ light and love in our hearts, we don’t have to be afraid of the scary side of Halloween. (Standard Publishing, 2002)

Thanksgiving

God Gave Us Thankful Hearts, by Lisa Tawn Bergren. A young wolf pup learns the secret to a happy, thankful heart and that God is the giver of all good gifts. (Waterbrook, 2016)

The Story of the Pilgrims, by Katharine Ross. A simple retelling of the beginnings of the American Thanksgiving holiday. (Random House, 1995)

The First Thanksgiving: Step Into Reading, Step 3, by Linda Hayward. For early-grade readers to read on their own and for families to share, an accurate retelling of the Pilgrims’ experience and the first Thanksgiving feast. (Random House, 1990, 2003)

Making God’s wonders known to the next generation,

– Diane

Book Review—Kids’ Guide to Exploring the Bible

Want to help kids dig into Bible study? Ignite their motivation. Provide the tools and techniques they’ll need and lead some practice sessions.

Same things you’d do if you were taking kids along on an archaeological dig—the motif for the new book Kids’ Guide to Exploring the Bible: Tools, Techniques, & Tips for Digging into God’s Word. Read More…

– Diane

Book Review—Anxious for Nothing: Living Above Anxiety and Loneliness

This just-out version for tweens and young teens is organized around the acronym CALM, the author’s prescription for calming anxiety and fears:

Celebrate God’s goodness
Ask God for help
Look on the bright side (Give thanks)
Meditate (Think about good things)

There’s no fluff or cheesiness here, no simplistic answers. Instead, young readers will find solid information to help them understand where anxiety and fear come from, how thoughts and feelings are intertwined, and what actions help. Read More…

– Diane

Book Review and Giveaway—Lullaby Prayer

Set on a country farm, this picture book truly does work like a lullaby—calming and wooing children to settle in, sleep, and dream—while also reassuring them of God’s love and care.

Each new spread focuses on a different aspect of dusk and falling nighttime—the sunset, the moon, dancing fireflies, clouds and stars, forest animals and those on the farm. Then the scenes move inside the house to a child’s bedroom, complete with nightlight and a warm puppy. Read More…

– Diane

My 2021 Back-to-School Booklist

Hard to believe, but the start of a new school year is just around the corner. Here’s a roundup of new and favorite books to make the transition back to school a little easier.

Picture Books

Hand to Hold, by JJ Heller. Perfect for bedtime, this lovely book captures the unconditional love parents want their children to know but sometimes fail to express when life gets busy. Based on the lyrics of the poignant 2018 song by the same name. (Waterbrook, 2021)

Different Like Me, by Xochitl Dixon. Understanding that we are all different and all very much the same can make any school experience go better. (Our Daily Bread, 2020)

Lullaby Prayer, by Tamara Bundy. This sweet, soothing poem with a prayer of blessing at the end of each stanza will help young students relax, settle, and sleep. (Tommy Nelson, 2020)

Nonfiction

Important Things Every Kid Should Know to Survive Middle School, by Sandy Silverthorne. The subtitle gets it right: Follow God, Try New Things, and Don’t Freak Out. The book is full of understanding, practical tips, and biblical wisdom. (Harvest House, 2020)

Eat God’s Food: A Kid’s Activity Guide to Healthy Eating, by Susan Neal RN, MBA, MHS. School lunches aren’t always the most nutritious, and packed lunches often go uneaten. Encourage healthy eating habits with this new book. (Elk Lake Publishing, 2021)

Anxious for Nothing (Young Readers Edition): Living Above Anxiety and Loneliness, by Max Lucado with Andrea Lucado. Children aren’t immune to the pressures of our culture. This encouraging book can help middle graders and young teens choose to take control of their feelings and to focus on God’s truth. (Tommy Nelson, 2021)

Dinosaurs Unleashed: The True Story about Dinosaurs and Humans, by Kyle Butt and Eric Lyons. Sooner or later, even young kids are confronted with evolution’s view of the dinosaurs. Discover a creation-based view instead with this informative book. (Apologetics Press, 2004, 2008)

Lots of Animal Jokes for Kids, by Whee Winn. Because sometimes you just need a good laugh! (Zonderkidz, 2020)

Devotionals

The Whole Story for the Whole Family: A Year of Jesus-Centered Family Devotions, by Michael Kelly. Family routines change when a new school year begins. Add some family Bible times to your schedule and find just the help you need with a guide like this one. (B&H Books, 2021)

Making God’s wonders known to the next generation,

– Diane

Book Review & Giveaway—The Big Questions Series

UPDATE: This giveaway is now closed.

GIVEAWAY! Thanks to The Good Book Company for providing a set of all three Big Questions books for me to give away. To enter, leave a comment at the bottom of this post. Winner will be selected at random on Saturday, June 19. I’ll contact the winner for a mailing address and announce him or her in my July newsletter. (Not subscribed yet? Click here.)

The covers are striking—photos don’t capture the gold, silver, and copper color foil art and type very well—but it was the titles that got my attention:

How Do We Know Christianity Is Really True?
Why Does God Let Bad Things Happen?
What Happens When We Die?

From the start, the Big Questions series for middle graders respects their questions and offers answers with respect too. In each book, the author leads readers to think through the title question by considering related questions that lead one from another, chapter by chapter. Read More…

– Diane

My Mother’s Day and Father’s Day Booklist

Books make lasting gifts for any holiday! Here’s a roundup of offerings for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and spring and summer baby showers.

Board Books

I Prayed for You, by Jean Fischer. A mother bear prays for her child’s arrival, then cherishes and prays for each of her baby’s firsts—from first step to first day of school. (Nelson, 2015)

God Made Daddy Special, by Glenys Nellist. A variety of animals share what makes their daddies special. Rhyming text. (Zonderkidz, 2018)

Thank You, God, for Daddy, by Amy Parker. A little lion cub thanks God for his wonderful daddy, encouraging little readers to do the same. (Nelson, 2011)

Picture Books

God Gave Us You by Lisa Tawn Bergren. Mama Bear shares why Little Cub is so loved—“because God gave us you.” (WaterBrook, 2000)

God Gave Us Family, by Lisa Tawn Bergren. Little Pup learns about the varieties of  families God brings together, and that each one is special. (WaterBrook, 2017)

Wherever You Go, I Want You to Know, by Melissa Krueger. Every Christian parents’ prayer for their children expressed Dr. Suess style in the perfect gift book for kids OR parents. (Good Book Company, 2020)

My Mama and Me: Rhyming Devotions for You and Your Child, by Crystal Bowman and Teri McKinley. 25 rhyming devotions and fun activities introduce kids to faith in an age-appropriate and understandable manner. (Tyndale, 2013)

How to Get a Daddy to Sleep, by Amy Parker. A role-reversal bedtime story that helps kids think about all the ways their fathers care for them. (Nelson, 2020)

The Wonder That Is You, by Glenys Nellist. In the style of Nancy Tillman’s On the Night You Were Born. (Zonderkidz, 2019)

Nonfiction

Mothers in Waiting: Healing and Hope for Those with Empty Arms by Crystal Bowman and Meghan Bowman (Harvest House, 2019). Includes the personal stories of 30 different women.

Making God’s wonders known to the next generation,

– Diane

Book Review—God Gave Us Prayer

GIVEAWAY: I have one copy of this book, signed by the author, to give away. To enter, leave a comment at the bottom of this post. Winner will be selected at random on Saturday, May 15, and announced in my June newsletter. (Not subscribed yet? Click here.)

God Gave Us Prayer gives kids and parents a sweet and helpful model for learning to pray.

When Little Pup discovers Mama praying silently by the lake, he’s full of questions. What do we do when we pray, and what do we say? Do we only pray to tell God we love him, or are there other reasons to talk to God?

Mama gently answers every question, and Papa does too when he joins the conversation. Together they model four kinds of prayer: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication (ACTS). The little family talks about God’s forgiveness, his provision and protection, and how he meets our needs and the needs of others when we pray.

Little Pup’s friends have questions about prayer too. Can we tell God about our feelings? What do we do when we don’t know what to say? When we’re worried, afraid, jealous or lonely? What if we’re too embarrassed by our bad decisions? Can we pray to be the best student in class or the best on our team? Does God heal sick people when we pray? Can we pray to be more like Jesus?

As she answers these questions, Mama suggests sample prayers, and there are prayer prompts for kids to personalize.

Most picture books that are primarily conversations fall flat. The conversations in this book (and all the God Gave Us series) avoid that pitfall because they flow so naturally and fit the action in the illustrations so well. Mama and Papa are excellent models for any parent wondering how to answer their children’s questions about prayer. Plus, their prayers throughout the book provide wonderful examples for us all.

One of my favorite parts of the book:

“If God knows everything,” Little Pup asked, even what’s in our hearts and minds, why do we need to say anything at all?”

“Well, I know a lot about you, and you know a lot about me,” Mama said. “What if we never said anything to each other? How would that feel?”

“Kinda lonely,” he admitted.

“Right. God wants a relationship with us, so he want to hear from us!

Little Pup takes Mama and Papa’s teaching and example to heart and proves he’s a good learner when he prays. Children who read God Gave Us Prayer will want to do the same. I highly recommend this book! The suggested age range of 3-7 feels right to me.

God Gave Us Prayer
written by Lisa Tawn Bergren, illustrated by David Holm
published by WaterBrook (2021)
hardcover picture book, 56 pages, 8.7 x 0.4 x 8.8 inches

Making God’s wonders known to the next generation,

– Diane