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Books for Families in 2014

January 7, 2014

by Candice Watters

I love this time of year, post-Christmas, when lists of the best and favorite books of 2013 abound, as well as those people hope to read in the year ahead. Books are friends. Well-chosen, they can be mentors. That’s why it’s helpful to hear from people you admire about what they’re reading and have read. There’s no shortage of excellent recommendations from well-read and well-trusted sources, as well as wise words about why and how to read in an era when slow reading is more of a niche than ever. Rather than add to the great lists already available (see the above linked words), we thought we’d share the books we’ve read in recent years that were influential, thought-provoking, and practically helpful for parenting.

Age of Opporunity, by Paul David Tripp.

This one is at the top of my list. I read it when I was feeling some anxiety about our first-born’s upcoming 13th birthday and Tripp’s book calmed my heart with God’s Word as it applies to the coming of age of children. Age of Opportunity is full of encouragement to fear not this decade of the teen years, but instead to embrace it as rich with opportunities for growing in friendship and influence with your emerging adult, as well as for being sanctified in the process.

Trained in the Fear of God, edited by Randy Stinson and Timothy Paul Jones.

This is one of Steve’s favorite books from his study at Southern Seminary. It’s a key book for anyone who wants to both serve their family well and think wisely about how their local church does family ministry. The editors, Randy Stinson and Timothy Paul Jones, are architects of what is known as the “family equipping” approach to family ministry in which “every practice at every level of ministry” of a church’s family ministry is “reworked to champion the place of parents as primary disciple-makers in their children’s lives” (p. 27). The book is divided into three sections: biblical foundations, family ministry in church history and practical topics–with material in each section that can serve you well both in your family and in your local church.

Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl, by N. D. Wilson.

 Not a parenting book per se, this book Wilson, husband and father of five, gave me a new perspective on God as sovereign Creator, as well as a renewed commitment to the value of family and the benefits of investing in what our children read, learn and imagine.

Marriage to a Difficult Man by Elisabeth D. Dodds.

This was probably my favorite of the books I read in 2013. It tells the story of Sarah Edwards, wife of theologian Jonathan Edwards and progenitor of generations of faithful pastors, college presidents, politicians, scholars and more. Oh the influence a faithful mother can have! Though out of print, this book is well worth the effort and price of purchase.

Thoughts for Young Men, by J. C. Ryle and Beautiful Girlhood, revised by Karen Andreola.

These were the books that Steve and I read with our oldest son and daughter (respectively) over the course of a series of Friday morning breakfast dates. Both are old books that have been brought back into circulation in order to exhort boys and girls on the verge of adolescence. It’s always been a challenge to grow into godly men and women, these books offer biblical wisdom for the journey.

Now for the books we’re looking forward to reading in the year ahead:

Don’t Make Me Count to Three, by Gina Plowman.

Recommended to us by our pastor John Kimbell in his biblical parenting Sunday school class, Plowman’s book is “a Mom’s look at heart-oriented discipline.” The recurring theme we’ve heard from friends who recommend it is practical.

Instructing Your Child’s Heart, by Tedd Tripp.

Reads like part two to Shepherding Your Child’s Heart. Tripp masterfully guides parents in the art and responsibility of forming their children’s spiritual lives.

Duties of Parents by J. C. Ryle.

Thoroughly biblical, this short book gives powerful encouragement to parents about what’s essential for raising godly offspring. Beginning with Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it,” Ryle lays the responsibility for training squarely where it belongs: on the shoulders of Dads and Moms. He is fully aware that salvation belongs to God alone. We parents can’t save our children, as much as we often wish we could. But God works through means. We Moms and Dads must take our roles seriously, knowing our children will follow the path we set them on.


Image background: Our love of books seems to be affecting our kids. We tacked a home-made chart on the kitchen bulletin board, announced a goal of 50 books for the summer, and kept a collective running total of all the books we read. Everyone loved adding titles completed to the list.

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