Books for Kids about Religion
Berkeley Parents Network >
The Arts, Books, Entertainment, & Media >
Books for Kids about Religion
My daughter is 5 and we haven't really explained anything about religion (not
even what is God?). I am from a Christian background, and my husband is
Muslim, and we're not part of a religious community here (and not really
interested in it right now). But we would like her to know about her
background: the traditions, beliefs, etc. and she's starting to also be
interested in understanding. I feel like books would be helpful for us to be
able to frame our discussions. I was wondering if people had any suggestions
of books about religion for this age? They could be comparative, discussing a
bunch of religions, or just about one. I would be particularly interested in
books about Islam for this age, since we have chosen to raise her in the
Muslim faith (and my husband is European and wouldn't know English titles),
but really any religion would be relevant because we've been talking to her
about other people's religions too.
I would also be interested in books about 'living' the religion, particularly
Islam -- not just what is the theology, but how one celebrates holidays, the
traditions, etc. We've been reading the 'All-of-a-kind Family' books, about a
Jewish family in 1912 with five girls, and I really like how it's just a nice story
about a family and not purposefully teaching religion, but along the way it
talks just a bit about what holidays mean and how certain holidays are
celebrated by that family (after reading the story about the Succos, my
daughter said she wished she was Jewish!)
I really like ''Muslim Child: Understanding Islam through
Stories and Poems''. It's a book you would have to read to
your daughter but might be nice during bedtime. Sultana
Bookstore on San Pablo near Gilman in Berkeley has a nice
selection of children's books. They are very helpful in
there and you can ask many questions. If you look up
''Muslim Child'' on Amazon a lot of other books pop up and you
may find some titles that you like.
As an introductory children's book to the concept of God and
religion, I really like a book called ''What Is God?'' by Etan
Boritzer, published in 1990 by Firefly Books in Canada.
I'm still trying to find my place in this world, but I found
the following books very insightful as an exposure to
religion and spirituality for my 6 and 7 year old:
- The Usborne Book of World Religions (World Religions
Sue Meredith (Author), Nicolas Hewetson (Illustrator)
- The Little Soul and the Sun: A Children's Parable Adapted
from Conversations With God [Hardcover]
Neale Donald Walsch (Author)
- The Little Soul and the Earth: I'm Somebody! A Children's
Parable from Conversations with God [Hardcover]
Neale Donald Walsch (Author)
Sagrada, a bookstore of 'sacred' books and small items, is
located on Telegraph in the Temescal neighborhood of
Oakland. It's a great resource for folks wanting a
friendly, non-denominational place to find religious books
and gifts of many persuasions. The back left corner is all
Hi, we are in a similar situation. My husband is Muslim, and I converted to
Islam from Christianity. We have two small children. It is really hard to find
Muslim books for little ones.
We did find an ADORABLE book about Ramadan though! It is actually written
by Karen Katz. It's very sweet and shows the traditions around celebrating
Ramadan with beautiful illustrations. It's called My First Ramadan. We got it
We are a non-religious household but our 3-year-old happens
to go to a preschool affiliated with a Christian church.
They've read Bible stories, including ones about Jesus for
Christmas and Easter. My child is curious and would like me
to read to him about Jesus at home, so I started looking for
a good book of Bible stories adapted for preschoolers. I did
some research on Amazon but couldn't a book that would fit
- Stay close to the original whenever possible, I'm annoyed
by renditions such as 'God made puppies and kitties'.
- Minimize violence, i.e. skip the gory details while
staying true to the story. Apparently there are some kids'
bible books where Jesus doesn't die on the cross at all.
I'm looking for one where he dies but without the
specifics about spikes through the hands etc.
- The stories should make sense, but not spell out the
moral. I didn't care for the books that explicitly
supplied the 'lesson' with each story, such as 'you should
feel sad when you sin'.
- A short selection of the most famous bible segments will
be fine, I'd rather not get a 500-page tome. I will
appreciate advice from non-believers and Christians both!
There's a store on Telegraph near 51st-I can't remember the
name of it at the moment, but it's on the same side of the
street as Bakesale Betty and really close to Dona Tomas,
across the street from Genova Deli. They'll have something
there for you. The people who work there are really nice,
and there's a guy there who used to be a priest or
something. He's amazing at directing you to the perfect
whatever for whomever. There's a whole bunch of kid books in
the back, from your classic kids' bible to the 'God made
puppies' thing, and they cover every type of
reglious/spiritual topic. Have fun.
I didn't see your original post so I'm not sure if you gave
specifics as to what you were looking for, but my kids LOVE
The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones. The
pictures are beautiful, and they go back to their favorite
stories time and time again. And the stories are
well-written and kid friendly, and not totally cheesy and
dumb like some children's bibles.
Does anyone have a recommendation for a really good children's bible? I am looking
for a kids' bible that:
is non sexist, doesn't refer to God always as a ''Him'', has nice wording and is not
guilt-inducing, and that preferably has nice illustrations. We are exploring
Christianity and faith, and would like to become more familiar with bible stories, but
do not wish to be traumatized by them ;-) !
Is this too much to ask?
Thanks for your suggestions.
My husband and I have loved reading Bible stories to our 3 and
a half year old daughter and have also spend a great deal of
time teaching Sunday School for all ages (nursery through high
school). The Bible we currently are excited about for our
daughter is the ''Read with me Bible'' published by Zonderkidz. It is in the NIrV (New International readers Version) and has
106 stories in it (the familiar ones we know and love) and
wonderful, full color illustrations. The language is
traditional, but the stories are delightful and there is no
fear, intimidation, or guilt associated with the stories. This
Bible retails for $11.99 at Christian Book Distributers (1-800-
247-4784 or www.christianbook.com).
Another Bible you may want to explore is Max Lucado's ''Hermie
and Friends Bible'' that is a version of the International
Children's Bible. It is written in age appropriate language
for children accompanied by cartoon characters (Hermie the
caterpillar and Flo the fly for example) that give extra
insight. This Bible retails at $24.99 and can be found at
If you are looking just to familarize your child with Bible
stories, you may want to rent some Veggie Tale movies from the
video store. These movies do a great job of telling Bible
stories in a very non-threatening, kid friendly way. One of
our current favorites is ''Esther, the Girl who became Queen.'' In this movie, Esther is a scallion (or some other long green
vegetable) and she saves her people (who are peas for some
reason) because of her position as queen. This video goes
right along with the book of Esther in the Bible, but,
amazingly, in an action packed 30 minutes!
Hope that helps and good luck with your faith journey.
My 10 month old daughter was christened in August and as a gift,
she received the coolest bible I've ever come across for ages 4-
8...and would you believe, it meets all your criteria!!?! I
only saw God referred as a ''he'' once in my skimming of the
book. It's called THE RHYME BIBLE STORYBOOK by L. J. Sattgast
(published by Zonderkidz)and has 38 classic stories from the
bible all in verse. I think you'll be happy with this choice!
I am a consultant for Usborne books. Usborne books are a leader
in educational, interactive and unique books. We have a
wonderful line of children's bibles and bible stories. You
could check them out on my web site at www.usborne101.com or
call me for more info 510-799-0265.
I don't have a specific Bible to recommend, but I'd inquire at
your local United Church of Christ (see http://ucc.org/ to search
for one). These churches are committed to inclusive language (to
the point of irritating me sometimes, lol).
Best of luck. Would you let us know when you find what you're
looking for? I think I'd like that.
I'm looking for good toddler/preschooler books that introduce
Buddhist ideas. (Or books for older kids, that I can use down the
line.) Also looking for books on how to parent from a Buddhist
perspective. Thanks for any suggestions!
try ''zen tails'' you can get this series through Daedalus books
daedalus books 800.395.2665
How wonderful you are looking into this. Here are some
recommendations: Peaceful Piggy Meditation by Kerry Maclean and her
books about Family Meditation
Because Brian Hugged His Mother by David Rice, The Dalai Lama by Demi
(and other books by Demi); Each Breath a Smile by Thich Nhat Hanh; A
Pebble for Your Pocket by Thich Nhat Hanh; Stone Soup by Jon Muth;
The Three Questions by Eric Kimmel; Kindness: A Treasury of Buddhist
Wisdom for Children and Parents; some of the Jataka tales. There are
also several books out on parenting from a Buddhist perspective, such
as Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting by
Kabat-Zinn; Dharma Family Treasures: Sharing Buddhism With Children
ed. by Sandy Eastoak; Zen Parenting by Costello & Haver; Momfulness
by Denise Roy; My Monastery is a Minivan by Denise Roy; Momma Zen by
Karen Maezen Miller.
Parallax Press publishes books about buddhism (they do many of Thich
Nat Hahn's books). They've had a few books for kids over the years,
check their website. Heian Press also has a great picture book called
The Pumpkin Patch: A Buddhist Parable (or something like that) which
is a sweet story about compassion. Both publishers are local, and
with any luck, their books are carried at local, independent
Champion of Shop Local
Wonder Garden~ A Tale of an Old Dog and a Baby Rabbit~ by Rima
My mother's best friend gave us this book when our daughter was
lamost two years old...it seemeda bit old for her, but we read it to
her anyway and she loved it then. She still loves it (she is 3 1/2
now). It is a beautiful book, black cover, with a bright pink
interior, beautiful chalk drawings. It is based on the current Dali
Lama's experience, a story recounted in Pico Iyer's biography of the
current Dali Lama.
It is about compassion.
www.parallax.org Lots of kids books about Buddhist principles.
we love samsara dog, which introduces the idea of reincarnation. i
can't remember the author but you can find it online.
There is a nice book of Jataka (sp?) Tales that I bought at Shambhala
Books years ago. It consists stories to read to children. I think it
is available elsewhere. The book I really liked for myself is called
''Dharma Family Treasures: Sharing Mindfulness with Children,'' an
anthology edited by Sandy Eastoak and published by North Atlantic
Books of Berkeley. It was published in 1994, and I have no idea if
it's still available, but you might find it online. Also, the Ngingma
(sp? Institute in Berkeley had a children's program when my son, now
18, was young. I don't know if they still do, but it's worth checking
Zen Shorts by Jon J Muth is a great book for kids. He has also
written several others along these lines.
Berkeley based Buddhist publisher Parallax Press has dedicated their
imprint Plum Blossom Books to publish books on meditation and
Buddhism for children and their parents. Many are based on the
teachings of the Vietnamese Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. Great titles
for the younger set are the picture books ''Each Breath A Smile'' and
''The Sun in my Belly''. For slightly older children ''A Pebble in my
pocket'' is more of a chapter book and has a number of meditation
practices for young people. For all titles go to www.parallax.org and
find ''Children's books'' in the drop down menue under ''Browse
books''. You can order directly from them or through Amazon. Hope
that helps. Happy mindful parenting!
there are some other book recommendations there.
Can anyone recommend a book (or books) that introduces the major
stories from the bible -- Noah, Jonah, Garden of Eden, Tower of Babel,
that sort of thing -- for kids age 5+ without a strong religious
slant? I don't mind god being mentioned, since he's a major character
in things like the Creation story, but I'm hoping to avoid a lot of
religious rhetoric and rhapsodizing. We do have a nice book called
''On Noah's Ark'' by Jan Brett for younger kids, if you know that book
and it gives you any idea what I'm looking for. Thanks!
Separation of Church and Bedtime
I like the DK series "The Children's Illustrated Bible", Selina Hastings.
I have the 2004 edition.
It is packed with colorful illustrations, maps, and photos, and
the stories are told in one or two pages, perfect for bedtime reading.
Like the other DK books (Dorling Kindersley, a British-based
publisher), which I also highly recommend, this one
is in style similar to a childrens' encyclopedia, in that concepts
like "pharoah" are explained and illustrated alongside Bible stories
that feature a pharoah.
There is also an introduction that gives a historical account of the
Bible itself for children who want to know more. There is a lot of
supplemental material such as short pieces about what daily life was
like, foods they ate back then, historical kings and nations, etc. Actually this
would be a great book for any adult who has gaps in their knowledge about
My dad (former minister) had a series of books illustrated by Piet Worm, and I (now
definitely non-religious) liked reading them when I visited him on weekends. I
suspect they're out of print, but a quick Googling of Piet Worm Old Testament
Stories gave me a few leads. They were rich illustrations, and more about
characters and story than indoctrination. At least, that's how I remember them.
-- Never on Sunday
Not a direct answer to your question, but found the book Parenting Beyond Belief
(available at the Berkeley Public Library) to have helpful discussion of many of the
issues that parents who want to raise our children to think critically face.
Somewhere in there, maybe in an appendix, was a bibliography of just the sort of
story books that you're looking for.
Not a story per se, but check out the book ''Parenting Beyond Belief'' which is a
series of articles by agnostic & atheist parents. There are some great references
in here, and you may find some books that fill what your are looking for.
Dear Friend- Tomie dePaola has done some religious stories in the same spirit as
Jan Brett. I teach Kindergarten and I have to be very careful what I am reading-a
great children's author on a theme that is not preaching, just sharing the author's
background. Amazon.com usually has synopses and you can see which ones might suit
your needs. I know the kids LOVE dePaola so you might give him a try.
We have a great book that should be right up your alley. It is The Children's
Illustrated Bible from DK (Dorling Kindersley) Press. We are a totally secular
family that wanted to introduce our 7 y/o to the Bible because of its importance in
literature and daily life - we wanted our daughter to be familiar with the stories.
It is more on the historical side than religious and has great illustrations and
legends and photos typical of DK output. I HIGHLY recommend this book!
These are stories on tape. I grew up in church and my father was a
minister. I really do not remember reading a bible related books besides
the bible but I do remember listening to stories. I literally listened to
these 30 min. stories on tape every night. They were stories about
sharing, cheating, lying, homework and studying and they even give history
stories (I learned about Paul Revere and the midnight ride).They used to
play them on Saturday mornings on one of the Christian radio stations, but
not any more. To this day, I love listening to them and can't wait for my
daughter to start. They sell them on Amazon, and there is an endless about
to choose from, each set of CDs is about $20, but it comes with 12
different stories on each set. I really can't rave enough about these
stories, they have characters (different voices) and adventures dealing
with just about everything in childhood and adulthood. I sold all of my
sets when I was about 15 yrs. old and regret it too thi!
s day. Your child will love them... I still do!!
I posted a previous description of stories to listen too rather than
read, but forgot to type the most important part, the NAME of the
series!! The name of the stories on CD are ''ADVENTURES IN ODYSSEY''. I
also did some research and you can listen to them online for free before
Their are about 50 different collection of CDs but at the vault you can
browse by lesson. (i.e. Friendship, Responsibility, Forgiveness)
My husband and I are not religious, do not go to church, and are not likely to start
anytime soon. My husband grew up without any religion (and is a fine individual); I
grew up in a christian-ish church but consider myself religiously neutral/agnostic. I'd
like to get my 2.5 year old daughter a children's bible to introduce her to the main
stories - I think it's an important part of cultural literacy. However, I'd also like to
introduce her to something similar for Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddism, Paganism,
Shamanism, etc. Plus folklore, mythology... Are there any specific story books you can
recommend? Pictures are a plus for a kid her age. Looking for books for this age and
the upcoming years. Thanks!
I'm the storyteller at Northbrea Community Church, and I think
it's great you are interested in teaching your daughter about the
stories in different world religions--it's what I do almost every
Sunday at Northbrea! There are many places where you can find
anthologies of stories, some from one particular religion and
some from a variety of world religions. You might start looking
at books from Barefoot Books--they publish wonderful theme-based
anthologies with beautiful illustrations. But those might be
better when your daughter is a little older. For now, since
toddlers are very interested in other children, you might try a
couple of DK books--there are two that come to mind right away:
''Children Just Like Me,'' and ''Children Just Like Me:
Celebrations.'' The first one is more secular, but it's a nice,
very visual way to show children what children look like in other
parts of the world, how they dress, what they eat, what they play
with. The second book introduces some of the major celebrations
in other cultures and religions, including Chinese New Year,
Purim in Jewish communities, Holi in India, Eid ul-Fitr that
ends Ramadan in Muslim communities, and Epiphany in Christian
communities. Plus there's lots more. It's probably best to
stick with stories and the celebrations for very young children.
Later on, when kids have more abstract thinking capabilites you
might discuss different belief systems, but it can be confusing
too early. As for Bibles to introduce Judeo-Christian stories,
again I'd recommend DK, this time their Children's Bible. It
stays pretty close to the stories and has illustrations plus
interesting geographical and archeological spot photos. Some of
the stories in the Bible can be pretty confusing for a very young
child, so be sure you read through the stories first and choose
those that you think will be best for your daughter--you don't
have to teach everything at once. I hope you enjoy reading these
stories too--there are so many wonderful things in our world's
My husband and I are exactly where you are. My daughter heard the ''Noah's
song recently (i.e. It rained..and poured...for forty...days-ies days-ies..)
to know the story behind the song. I found a great book, ''The Children's
ILLUSTRATED BIBLE'' with stories retold by Selina Hastings, printed by DK
(Dorling Kinderseley). If you know DK Press, they have really nice layouts
illustrations for children's books. My daughter really enjoyed the stories
were just the right length for her 5-yr-old mind (about 1-2 pages per). I
warn you, though, the stories open up many questions, like, Did this really
Is this a true story? Who is God? I wasn't as prepared to deal with those and
looking for the book to help me with some good answers.
Agnostic mom who cares about religion
hello Heather, I think children love to learn about religions of
all kind and the God is something great to them--without all the
difficulties and questions we come to as we grow older. I
commend you on wanting to introduce you daughter to all this--it
is a great opportunity to real dwell on the meaning of existence
and the greatness of human life. And to really instil wonder!
I would suggest going to the Oakland main library down town (you
don't have to live in Oakland to get a library card there and it
is really easy to renew online to avoid late fees...). They have
a pretty good religion section with all kinds of stuff--stories
and pictures... And also try to browse online or at barnes and
noble or boders and just look for something you like.
There are some really bad (from my very educated religious
perspective) children's bibles but there are also some beautiful,
simply lovely books out there as well. Many children's books
touch on some very deep philosophical/theological points.
For beautiful Catholic Christian stuff look for Brian
Wildsmith--his picture books are simply beautiful. I think he
did some Old Testament stories as well. There is Tomie de Paola,
Josephine Nobisso, and many other very talented artists and
authors. Sagrada, the bookstore on Telegraph in Oakland has a
great children's book collection--and I believe that many
religions are represented there. I picted up a great picture
book called ''What does God look like?''
Also, Waldorf stuff might interest you... good luck!
If you are looking for a wide variety of great religious stuff,
I'd go to Sagrada. It is a marvelous small store run by a
fantastic couple. It is in Oakland near 51st and telegraph, I
think....Across from the little mall where Genoa dlecatessan is.
Sagrada in North Oaklans (Temescal neighborhood?) is the place
where folks from my liberal catholic berkeley church go for stuff
for their children and friends. But Catholic stuff is just one
portion of their inventory. They have items from a wide range of
spiritual practices; items from the very traditional to the very
non-traditional. Also, they have a wonderful section for
children. I highly recommend it. They work hard on getting
multi-cultural childrens' books and they know their inventory
quite well. They could probably find you a book to meet your
needs. They are in the phone book.
Does anyone know of a book written for children that describes the world's
religions? We have a
fairly mature 7-yr old with very good reading skills whose classmates come
from a variety of religious
backgrounds. She frequently asks us questions we can't answer, so we'd like
to find something
we can read together.
At www.bibliofind.com, I found these:
Parrinder, G.: World Religions. From Ancient History to the Present. ;
Facts on File Publications, New York, NY, 1971. 528 pages, soft cover.
Very good. Book ID:HS417. Offered for sale by Gail's Books at US$10.00
Parrinder, G.: THE WORLD'S LIVING RELIGIONS ; Admirably thorough
study. Pan 69 Pb VG 202pp ind. Please quote no: 12637 category: WORLD
RELIGIONS Offered for sale by Phenomenal Books at #4.00
I have seen that book before and almost bought it -- it looked good!
Apparently the seller or lister thinks so, too. I guess Parrinder in
general would be a good choice.
There are also several books available in new bookstores, such as Will
and Ariel Durant's books. I read Will Durant's "The Story of
Philosophy" when I was 11 and enjoyed it.
The following also looked fascinating, as it includes texts from the
religions themselves (note that this is an old book):
Frost, S. E., Jr.: The Sacred Writings of the World's Great Religions
Home Library, 1943. 2nd Edition, Good-, no d/j, 8vo, 410 pp., fep
removed and binding visible at that point, underlining in a few chapters,
Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Taoism, Confucianism, Jainism, Buddhism,
Judaism, Christianity, Islam,
Shinto, Sikhism, Mormonism, Christian Science. Includes introductions
to religion and texts., Cloth Bds, Religion Theology (UR#:MATEBASE002642)
for sale by No Garbage Books at US$6.95 and is also (as UR#:1710) offered for
sale by REV. D. A. SCHROEDER at US$8.00
I saw a couple of good choices:
One in particular, the Encyclopedia of World Religons by Ellwood and
Alles, seems to aimed at a Young Adult market and is fairly
comprehensive. This in particular would be useful in the Bay Area,
where there is such diversity.
from the Amazon review:
"Nearly 500 entries cover topics from prehistoric and ancient
religions, major contemporary world religions, concepts, symbols, and
personages. The entries for major religions are the longest, covering
two or three pages and subdivided into sections that discuss history,
beliefs, practices, organizations, and significance"
Another book, which looks quite lovely is: Growing Up : From Child to Adult
by Anita Ganeri. It approaches religons from the standpoint of their
coming of age rituals This one is aimed at 4-8 year olds.
One World, Many Religions : The Way We Worship by Mary Pope Osborne. This
one focuses on six religons, but is written for 9-12 year olds.
And, if you want to focus on the stories that people of faith use:
Sacred Myths : Stories of World Religions by Marilyn McFarlane looks really
great. (this is also for 9-12)
I'd be very interested to know what you find particularly helpful.
Re: concerned about daughter visiting very religious relatives
I haven't had to deal with this issue yet but I know it will come up in
my family, too (my parents and siblings are rather fundamentalist
Christians and we are raising our son as a fairly secular Jew - fun for
all). One of the books people recommended to me might be a good
starting place for your 9-yo - it's called ''What is God?'' by Etan
Boritzer and provides a non- religious, non-denominational look at the
diversity in all the great beliefs and the way in which we are all
connected. For ages 9-12 reading level. It won't answer all her
questions, but may help give some perspective on the stuff she'll hear
at Sunday School. I'm looking forward to seeing others' advice!
I'm wondering if anyone can recommend any books about
introducing spirituality into kids' lives--for those of us who
are not part of an organized religion. Any suggestions?
circle round by anne hill & diane baker
Hi! I can recommend a book that I have recently recieved
entitled ''Learn from the Great Teacher''. It is a fully
illustrated book that tell the stories of Jesus' life and
teachings It does not,however, stress a specific denomiation
but instead contains stories intended to provide moral guidance
and priciples in which to live by. It contains thought
provoking questions throughout each story that can encourage
your child to express himself/herself. For example in one story
entitled ''Is it Right to Fight?'' tells the story about two
disciples who got angry and asked Jesus if it is right to get
revenge. The story then directs you to your Bible and after
some explaination asks the question ''What should we do if
someone tries to pick a fight with us?'' I don't know how old
your children are but I would say that this book is meant for
kids between 5-12. For younger children I would recommend ''My
Book of Bible Stories'', which also contains wonderful pictures
and simpler text. I have an extra copy of both if you would
As the monther of two wonderful young men and as the owner of
Garden Gate Montessori School, I have found the book ''Nurturing
Spirituality in Children'' by Peggy J. Jenkins, PH.D. to be
especially helpful for my own family and others, because it
follows the principle of using the concrete to illustrate the
abstract, which is especially important for young children. The
author uses simple concrete objects from the kitchen, etc. to
illustrate many important spiritual concepts.
this page was last updated: Aug 26, 2014
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website!
Read more, and see how you can help:
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network