The bookshelves in our homes are filled with works rich in literary and theological beauty that have profoundly shaped us. We have been mentored by authors, ancient and modern, as we follow Jesus and learn what it means to think Christianly about every area of life. To live in an age where such books are in ready supply is wealth indeed, and we are grateful for it.
When we became parents and started thinking about how we wanted to raise our children, meaningful interaction with great literature was a top priority for each of us. Wonderful children’s books are available in abundance, and we have delighted in exploring the world of kids lit.
However, when we began to search for Christian children’s books that were on the same par as our favorite nonreligious titles, we were disheartened. More often than not, the Christian books we encountered were theologically sloppy or artistically mediocre – or both. Since such books don’t do justice to the beauty and truth of Christianity, we were unwilling to share them with our young ones.
We believe that the literary and artistic qualities of all types of childrens’ books matter – and we believe that the quality of Christian books matters even more because those books attempt to reflect God to their young readers. Children’s ideas about God’s character, his creation, and the story of redemption are important, so we care about how those stories unfold in literature. The religious books our children read will deeply impact their spiritual imaginations: what could be more important?
We are attentive, of course, to the theological truths in Christian kids lit, but it also matters how those truths are communicated through words and illustrations. We must have truth and beauty. What a loss, if our children grow up thinking that their books about God are the boring or unattractive ones! Nor should they be led astray by attractive but false stories. We want them to be enthralled by true stories and captivated by their pictures because God is enthralling and his truths are captivating. To present the biblical narrative otherwise is to fail to do justice to its breathtaking beauty.
Happily, there are a number of authors and illustrators who share this vision. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to find them. The selection in most Christian stores is uneven at best, and relying solely on reader reviews at online bookshops is tricky. A few guides to children’s literature have short sections on Christian books, but like all booklists, we don’t always share their criteria and some of our favorites are often missing.
As we have each worked to build a collection of children’s theological books, we’ve exchanged titles we like and had many discussions about what makes a great book stand out from the rest. One day it dawned on us that maybe we should share our findings and invite others to join our conversation… so here we are!
Aslan’s Library, we hope, will first of all be a place where you can come for book recommendations that will help you feel confident in making selections at the library or bookstore. We also hope that we will be able to facilitate an ongoing conversation about why artistic and literary beauty are as necessary as theological accuracy in Christian books for children.
You can look for a book review every Monday and a food-for-thought article on Wednesdays, with the occasional link or quotation sprinkled in. In the process you will get to know us and our families, and we hope to get to know you as you share your thoughts, experiences, and book recommendations in comments and emails.
We are certainly not the final authority on faith-based literature for children! We are simply two literary mothers who want to celebrate and share high quality Christian kids lit whenever we find it.
We are Protestants (more on our theological background in a future post), but Christian believers from other traditions will undoubtedly find that they can embrace many of the books we will share. Of course, you will want to preview the books we recommend before you share them with your children.
One last note: Our reviews will concern themselves with books that are overtly Christian, but we certainly believe that Aslan would have known the great value and spiritual benefit of reading excellent literature in all genres. We hope that is your view as well. The lack of a guide to beautiful and true theological books for children was our primary motivation for creating this blog, and because there are numerous guides to nonreligious works (some even written by Christians) we have intentionally limited our scope to the distinctly religious.
Welcome, and happy reading!