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Additional faith-based parenting resources

This list was compiled by Bruce and Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, co-authors of Active Parenting Now in the Faith Community.

Many churches maintain their own libraries, providing members and friends with books and periodicals for pleasure, inspiration, knowledge, skill training and resources for particular forms of discipleship. Other churches choose to encourage members, teachers and leaders to use church resource centers, public libraries, local community or college libraries. Whichever plan is followed, church leaders can identify useful resources by using criteria suggested in the introduction of this guide.

The Bible: The Book

One can easily be overwhelmed by the many different translations of the Bible available in English, as well as the many different editions. The old saying not to judge a book by its cover is still good advice. Make sure the translation for children and youth is at their reading level; otherwise the message is that this book really is not for them. Consider giving different editions of the Bible at different times in a child's life. The ecumenical, non-profit American Bible Society has an excellent biblical translation for young children, youth and families called the Contemporary English Version (CEV). This translation is written at a second grade reading level and is attractive to new Bible readers who are not familiar with traditional Bible and church words. The CEV is designed to be read out loud easily so it is very helpful for use with family devotions and study group discussions. Contemporary English Version Bible Storybook has fifty familiar Bible Stories with beautiful illustrations for children. Contemporary English Version Children's Illustrated Bible is a complete Bible, with easy-to-read text; this edition is intended for children from seven to their early teens and is illustrated throughout by 32 full-color drawings that bring biblical scenes to life, along with reader's aids and supplements. Experience Jesus Today: Understanding the Gospel describes and explains the Gospels in terms that youth can understand and appreciate. It tells not only of the message of the gospels, but of the times, the geography and what is known of the individual authors. The Learning Bible is a colorful study Bible for older youth and adults with a wealth of insights. The American Bible Society has also made the CEV available in 96 different editions and formats (CD-ROM, audio cassettes, coloring and activity booklets, and more).

Beyond the Good Book

Enlisting a person or a group to be alert to resources advertised in church curriculum publications, in education periodicals, in newspapers and at the suggested web sites can generate a list which may be checked in a local or college library or nearby bookstore. The sixth session of Active Parenting Now encourages discussion between parents and children about sexuality; have copies of denominational and ecumenical resources that address this topic from a faith perspective. A church may draw attention to potentially useful books through the weekly bulletin, a newsletter or bulletin board, and choose to purchase only those few which meet the criteria important to that particular congregation.

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Printed ResourcesInternet Resources

Printed Resources


Anderson, Herbert, Don S. Browning, Ian S. Evison, and Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen, The Family Handbook (summary volume for the "The Family, Religion and Culture" coordinated by the University of Chicago/Lilly Foundation funded study). Westminster/John Knox Press, 1998.
This fine academic book has helpful summaries of the Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, and secular perspectives on marriage, family, divorce, reproductive technologies, division of domestic responsibilities, the relation of family to government, family ministry with children and youth, single parents, stepfamilies, families of gays and lesbians, the elderly, abusive families, bereaved families, the impact of violence, substance abuse, and popular culture on today's families.

Anderson, Herbert and Susan B. W. Johnson. Regarding Children: A New Respect for Childhood and Families ("Family Living in Pastoral Perspective" series). Westminster/John Knox Press, 1994.
This very readable book for parents looks at the many issues dealing with children in society, the child in relation to the family, the child as individual, the dysfunctional family, and the interdependence of the family and the larger society.

Batchelder, David B. All through the Day, All through the Year: Family Prayers and Celebrations. Augsburg Fortress Press, 2000.
Families will find a wonderful collection of useable celebrations and rituals in this book that will help them grow in their spiritual lives throughout the church year and different times of the day.

Broyles, Anne, Marilyn Brown Oden, Sue Downing, and Elizabeth & Paul Lynd Escamilla. At Home with God: Family Devotions for the School Year. Upper Room, 2003.
A daily devotion for families with children ages 6-11, with daily biblical readings, prayers and litanies to say and learn together, stories and activities to share, songs to sing with familiar melodies, colorful illustrations and symbols to direct young readers, and articles for parents.

Caldwell, Elizabeth F. Making a Home for Faith: Nurturing the Spiritual Life of Your Children. Pilgrim Press, 2000.
A fine book for parents that is filled with practical suggestions to help "make a home for faith." The book includes discussion questions at the end of each chapter so it can be the basis of a small-group discussion.

Conway, George. Giving Good Gifts: The Spiritual Journey of Parenthood. Westminster/John Knox Press, 2002.
This book celebrates the gifts we give and receive from our families. Conway understands parenting as a spiritual journey; thoughtful insights on biblical texts are presented as well as ideas at the end of each chapter for encouraging faith development by all family members.

Currie, Robin. 101 Ways to Live the Good News with Kids. Witness Sunday School Curriculum of Augsburg Fortress, 1997.
An attractive flyer with simple suggestions to show love to our children and help them grow in their faith.

DeGrote-Sorensen, Barbara and David Allen Sorensen. Escaping the Family Time Trap: A Practical Guide for Over-Busy Families. Augsburg Fortress, 2001.
This Lutheran couple offers questions that families will find helpful in defining their values: "what do we really want as a family?" follow by ways for overcoming what prevents families from living out these values as a family and in the world. The same writers have an earlier book titled 'Tis a Gift to be Simple: Embracing the Freedom of Living with Less (Augsburg Fortress, 1992) that offers insights for how to live a life less occupied with material possessions and with more time for our family, friends, and God.

Elkind, David.
The Hurried Child: Growing Up Too Fast Too Soon. 3rd edition. Perseus Publishing, 2001.
Miseducation: Preschoolers at Risk. Alfred A. Knopf, 1989.
Reinventing Childhood: Raising and Educating Children in a Changing World. Modern Learning Press, 1998.

These three books by Elkind describe some of the pressures experienced by young and school-age children and by their parents. The author suggests alternative perspectives and practical ways for parents to cope and help their children toward maturity.

FaithHome for Parents by the United Methodist Publishing House offers 18 short booklets covering many major topics of interest to parents about children, youth and faith development. They have also developed resources for small group discussions. FaithHome Leader's Guide provides sessions for children and parents together in learning to talk with one another about faith. This would give guidance for families of children ages 3-12 to go deeper in talking about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Church with one another.

Garland, Diana R. Family Ministry: A Comprehensive Guide. InterVarsity Press, 1999.
This 629-page volume covers everything for churches wanting to care and support families- background on families today, dynamics within families, social influences on families, biblical foundations for family ministry, church programs for families and much more.

Garland, Diana R. Sacred Stories of Ordinary Families: Living the Faith in Daily Life. Jossey-Bass, 2003.
The author interviewed over one hundred families and dozens of congregations about what they do to nurture faith in families: How does the family live out its faith? When was God perceived as close? What Bible story best reflects the family's own experience? The thoughtful answers will benefit families and churches.

Garrett, Susan R. and Amy Plantinga Pauw. Making Time for God: Daily Devotions for Children and Families to Share. Baker Books, 2002.
Two mothers who are also seminary professors wrote daily devotions for children that cover the entire year using most books of the Bible. They do a fine job covering a wide range of topics, including tough ones like different religious traditions, racial justice and divorce that take biblical teachings seriously at a level that children can understand.

Hardel, Dick and Deb Stehlin. FaithTalk With Children (The Youth and Family Institute, 2002) is a wonderful resource for families' Sabbath-keeping activities.
24 share cards in each of four areas: Memories, Wonder, Actions, and Growing Together give young children and adults the opportunity to share stories of God's faithfulness in their lives.

Johnson, Jan. Growing Compassionate Kids: Helping Kids See Beyond Their Own Backyard. Upper Room Books, 2001.
Johnson shares wonderful stories and practical ideas for helping children and families grow in their compassion for others.

Jones, Jeffrey D. Parenting for Love and Laughter: Finding God in Family Life. Jossey-Bass, 2002.
A wonderful collection of stories, insights and questions by a parent and Baptist pastor that can be discussed by parents as well as in a small group.

Ishida, Emily Demuth. Raising Faithful Children in a Fragmented World (Intersections adult study, Parenting series). Augsburg Fortress, 1999.
A small group study for parents of elementary school age children who want to discuss the Bible and parenting.

McGrath, Tom. Raising Faith-Filled Kids: Ordinary Opportunities to Nurture Spirituality At Home. Loyola Press, 2000.
This popular Roman Catholic writer sees the sacred nature in give-and-take of daily living, the importance of prayer and forgiveness, the meaning of religious objects, and much more.

Olson, Richard P. and Joe H. Leonard, Jr. A New Day for Family Ministry. Alban Institute, 1996.
This ecumenical book looks at how families are changing and ways that churches can meet families' needs and stresses through creative ministries today.

Pockets is a wonderful, ecumenical devotional magazine for children (ages 6-12) and parents by Upper Room that is published ten times a year and also has a good web site: http://pockets.upperroom.org/

Presbyterian Church (USA) Task Force on Changing Families: Changing Families: A Church-wide Study Document. 2001.
This four-session study covers "Discovering God's Purposes for Families"; "Seeking to Fulfill God's Purposes for Families Today"; "Fulfilling God's Purposes for Families Through Discipleship and Congregational Life" and "Witnessing to God's Purposes for Families in the Wider Society."

Presbyterian Families "Family Series" includes the following study resources: "Aging Is a Family Affair," "Leader s Guide to Aging Is a Family Affair," "Creating Healthy Families," "Family Passages," "Families Where the Generations Meet," "Families Within the Family of God," "Parenting Alone," "Parenting Is for Everyone." (Mariners)

Roehlkepartain, Jolene L.
Nurturing Faith in Families: 425 Creative Ideas for Family Ministry. Abingdon Press, 2002.
What Young Children Need to Succeed: Working Together to Build Assets from Birth to Age 11. Free Spirit Publishing, 2000.
Teaching Kids to Care and Share: 300+ Mission & Service Ideas for Children. Abingdon Press, 2000.
Roehlkepartain has a gift for looking at the latest research related to children and youth and then offering very practical ideas for families and churches.

Rogers, Fred. and Barry Head. Mister Rogers Talks with Parents. New York: Berkley Publishing Corp., 1983.
The insights which have shaped the popular television program are now made available to parents and teachers through vignettes of childhood, with suggestions for attending to children's needs and fears in the midst of particular experiences.

Theology and Worship Ministry Unit for the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church Daily Prayer: Book of Common Worship. Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993.
A beautiful, ecumenical book that offers structured times of prayer for the morning, mid-day, evening and close of day using the psalms, biblical prayers, prayers of thanksgiving and intercession for each day of the week, table blessings, a two-year lectionary and much more that draws from many traditions.

Thompson, Marjorie. Family The Forming Center: A Vision of the Role of Family In Spiritual Formation. Upper Room Books, revised edition, 1996.
Thompson, author of a classic on spirituality for adults titled Soulfeast, wrote this book first for families. Here she emphasizes the importance of families as the context for Christian spiritual formation and as a place to see God's presence in ordinary family life.

Vogt, Susan V. Raising Kids Who Will Make a Difference: Helping Your Family Live with Integrity, Value Simplicity, and Care for Others. Loyola Press, 2002.
Using a delightful blend of honesty and humor, Vogt offers successful parenting strategies and straightforward discussions on important issues like sexuality, substance abuse, materialism, racism, global awareness, and death. Each chapter concludes with reflection activities to stimulate discussion for the whole family.

Wehrheim, Carol Getting It Together: Spiritual Practices for Faith, Family, and Work. Westminster/John Knox Press, 2002.
This book by a gifted educator can help a family find a balanced life with biblical reflections and a spiritual practice offered in each chapter.

Wigger, J. Bradley. The Power of God at Home: Nurturing Our Children in Love and Grace. Jossey-Bass, 2003.
Wigger is a professor of Christian education, director of the Center for Congregations and Family Ministries at Louisville Seminary, and an editor of the journal Family Ministry: Empowering Through Faith. He sees our homes as places where some of the most important learning occurs, including faith development for children and parents. This book is a delightful combination of storytelling, biblical insights, and ideas for family practice.


Web Sites for Parents, Christian Educators, and Pastors

Active Parenting Publishers - Christian Active Parenting

Alternatives for Simpler Living - http://www.simpleliving.org/

Child Welfare Information Gateway (Adoption) - http://www.childwelfare.gov/

Children's Defense Fund - www.childrensdefense.org/aboutus.php

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)'s Family and Children Web Page - https://www.discipleshomemissions.org

Christians for Nonviolent Parenting - http://nospank.net/cnpindex.htm

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Resources - www.elca.org

FaithHome.com: Spiritual Help for Families (Roman Catholic) - www.homefaith.com/

Family Communication (Mister Rogers) - www.fredrogers.org

Family Ministry (Journal) - http://www.sbts.edu/family/

GrievingChild.org - www.dougy.org/

Mayo Clinic's Children Health Center - www.mayoclinic.com

Parenting for Peace and Justice Network - http://www.ipj-ppj.org/

Pockets (devotional) - http://pockets.upperroom.org/

Religion, Culture, and Family Project - www.uchicago.edu/divinity/family

Search Institute - http://www.search-institute.org/

Stepfamily Association of America - http://www.stepfam.org/

United Church of Christ's Children and Family - www.ucc.org/children/index.html

United Methodist Church's Family Life - http://www.umcdiscipleship.org/

The Upper Room (United Methodist Church) - www.upperroom.org/fivecircles/preparing.asp