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)


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)


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)


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

Book Review—The Tree Street Kids Series


A new series, Tree Street Kids, hit middle-grade bookshelves in April, and it’s a winner.

Although aimed at ages 8-12, readership may skew toward the younger end of the range because the series’ main character is 10. But two things will engage readers of any age—the action-packed plots and memorable characters.

Set in a suburban neighborhood near Chicago in the 1990s (where the street names are Cherry, Oak, Maple, and Pine), the books also give today’s readers a look at the cultural times their parents may have grown up in.

In book 1, Jack vs. the Tornado, Jack deals with the shock of his family’s move from his grandparents’ farm—the only home he’s ever known—to a house in the suburbs. He hatches a plan to save the farm and tries to resist putting down roots, even with new friends Ellison, Roger, and Ruthie, but a neighbor in need, a shocking discovery, and a tornado all interfere with Jack’s scheme. He’s confronted with the need to reassess and discovers that God had a better plan all along.

In book 2, The Hunt for Fang, Jack and his friends learn survival skills at church camp, and just in time. To find Ruthie’s missing cat and protect Jack’s puppy from Fang, a prowling coyote, they venture deep into nearby woods. But it’s Midge, Jack’s devoted little sister, who becomes the object of Jack’s search, and Jack must test his survival skills as well as his trust in God.

Woven into these stories are themes of friendship, family, individual differences, bullying, and growing in faith. And while Jack and his friends have more freedom than many children their age today, they operate in a world where caring and responsible adults are in charge. I found myself wanting to know these people more!

Kids will enjoy recognizing or learning about Ellison’s Bookmarks (and his frequent quotations) from classic middle-grade novels as well as Midge’s Phenomenal Facts (fun scientific trivia) and Roger’s Riveting History notes—all interspersed throughout the books.

More Tree Street Kids books are planned for next year!

Jack vs. the Tornado (192 pages)
The Hunt for Fang (240 pages)
written by Amanda Cleary Eastep
published by Moody Publishers (2021)
paperback, 5 x 0.48 x 7 inches

Making God’s wonders known to the next generation,

– Diane

Book Launch Celebration Giveaway

My new book Say & Pray Bible: Wipe Clean launches this month, so to celebrate, I’m giving a 4-book package to one lucky winner!

The new book joins the Say & Pray Bible family of books, which all began with a little boy who loved to point to ALL the objects in the illustrations in his books.

The same little boy was ready for a Bible storybook, but his grandma (ME!) couldn’t find one with super short, age-appropriate text.

And so an idea was born. Combine Bible-story text just the right length for little ones with labeled objects and people in the pictures to encourage pointing and naming.

That idea hatched in 2015 with Say & Pray Bible. It’s been published in Spanish and Korean now too!

Say & Pray Devotions came next. (If you know me and my husband, some of the characters in the book might look a bit familiar.)

Last fall a cousin joined the Say & Pray Bible family: Say & Pray Bible: Seek & Find.

Same basic idea but with larger pages and more objects and animals for little ones to seek and find in the artwork.

And just this week, another book cousin arrived—Say & Pray Bible: Wipe Clean! It has a covered spiral binding, wipe clean pages, words to trace on every page, and its own child-size marker.

My youngest grandson helped me welcome this latest addition when my box of author copies arrived.

To enter the giveaway to win all 4 books, leave a comment on this post. I’ll choose a winner at random from the comments on Sunday, March 14.

You can learn more about the original Say & Pray Bible here. Say & Pray Bible: Wipe Clean released March 2 and is available now!

Making God’s wonders known to the next generation,

– Diane

My Lent and Easter Booklist

From simple board books to family devotions, here are suggestions to help you explore the meaning of Easter with the children in your life. And every Easter basket needs a book!

Board Books

Easter Is Coming, by Tama Fortner. Takes children from the garden of Eden to the cross and resurrection in simple, appropriate, child friendly language. (B&H Kids, 2019)

Lift-the-Flap Easter Stories for Young Children, by Andrew J. DeYoung and Naomi Joy Krueger. From the Last Supper to the ascension, there are surprises and more story text under the flaps on every page. (Beaming Books, February 2021)

Holy Week: An Emotions Primer, by Danielle Hitchen and Jessica Blanchard. Part of the Baby Believer series, developed to give parents a tool for introducing their children to Scripture and doctrine from a young age. Holy Week focuses on identifying emotions children feel that people in the events of Easter week also experience. With each emotion, the text tells a portion of the Easter story, taken directly from Scripture almost entirely. (Harvest House, 2019)

Picture Books

’Twas the Morning of Easter, by Glenys Nellist. Following the pattern of Clement Moore’s iconic ’Twas the Night Before Christmas, this new picture book tells the story of Jesus’ resurrection through the eyes of Mary Magdalene. (Zonderkidz, 2021)

God Gave Us Easter, by Lisa Tawn Bergren. Little Cub learns from Papa Bear why Easter is even better than Christmas. (Waterbrook, 2013)

The Legend of the Easter Robin: An Easter Story of Compassion and Faith, by Dandi Daley Mackall. A young girl’s grandmother tells her the legend of the robin’s red breast and draws lessons for the Easter season. (Zonderkidz, 2016)

Make Room: A Child’s Guide to Lent and Easter, by Laura Alary. A beautifully written book about children experiencing Lent as a time to make time, make space, and make room as they wait for Easter morning. (Paraclete Press, 2016)


The Way to the Savior: A Family Easter Devotional, by Jeff and Abbey Land. A 40-day guide focused on eight different aspects of Lent, with short devotions, prayers, questions to talk about, activity ideas, and space to add Easter memories. (B&H Kids, 2020)

Activity Books

Jesus Lives! The Easter Story, by Laura Ring Derico. The Easter story simply told, plus two pages of stickers for completing the pictures, coloring pages, word search, craft ideas, and discussion questions. (Faith that Sticks, 2015)

Making God’s wonders known to the next generation,

– Diane

Book Review—Little Ewe: The Story of One Lost Sheep

This book releases February 23, 2021. To celebrate, the author and Beaming Books are offering a giveaway to readers within the United States. To enter, leave a comment at the bottom of this post. Winner will be selected at random on Tuesday, February 23, and announced in my March newsletter. (Not subscribed yet? Click here.)

Child or grownup, we’ve all wandered off the path set for us by our Heavenly Father, and Jesus told a parable about his desire to search out all who are lost. Now you can introduce children to that parable with the new picture book Little Ewe: The Story of One Lost Sheep. Read More…

– Diane

Book Review—The Invisible String

How can we feel secure when we’re separated from the ones we love? If you know a child dealing with separation anxiety or loss, this simple story about the Invisible String of love can help. And it’s perfect for Valentine’s Day!

Read More…

– Diane