Theology for Three Year Olds and Second Children


Those of you who have more than two kids are probably going to start laughing in just a few sentences. Those of you who have just one may swear you’ll do a better job with your second child. And if any of you happen to have two kids, one of each gender, say three-and-a-half years apart: well, maybe you’ll nod Amen.

See, I was running for Super Amazing Literary Mom during my daughter’s first four years. (See last week’s post for evidence that I have resigned this title, along with any aspirations in that direction.) I had our reading lists curated; we enjoyed an intentional mix of new books and well-loved titles; I kept seasonal books at the bedside. It turns out that she is a remarkably easygoing child who is happy to let us choose books to share with her. I learned this, you see, as soon as her little brother became old enough to express an opinion.

Oh, and express them he does. He is reading the books he chooses at bedtime, or none at all. He is singing the same three songs before bed every night. He never takes the Johnny Cash out of the CD player. Once he has chosen a book, Lord help the poor parent who attempts to substitute something else and any neighbors with their windows open.

Combine his energy of will with my divided attention. Add in the sad fact that my second child is largely getting the replay of my moves with the first, and, well: let’s just say Super Literary Mom of the Year is going to someone else this year. The poor kid hasn’t read nearly the variety that his sister had at this age. So I’ve decided to do something about it.

This probably continues in the vein of posts I’m writing mostly for myself, but I sat down the other day, pulled up our (extensive! and growing! hooray!) book list, and compiled a list of some of my favorite theological books for three year olds. Some we own and I need to pull out; others are going on the request list at the library. I’m going to have to stack them in front of the Richard Scarry books in the bedside basket, or they’ll never have a chance.

I share it with you (linked to reviews), should you have one of those magical, mercurial people somewhere in your life. It’s such a sweet age for reading together, and I want to get on top of it before it passes. Because it will. Too fast.

Favorite Theological Books for Threes

The Big Picture Story Bible, David Helm
Stories Jesus Told, Nick Butterworth
Read Aloud Bible Stories, vol. 1, Ella Lindvall
Animals of the Bible, Marie-Helene Delval
Bible ABC, Eric Metaxas
At Your Baptism, Carrie Steenwyk
What is the Church? Mandy Groce and Bill Bell
All Things Bright and Beautiful, Ashley Bryan
Glory, Nancy White Carlstrom
I Will Rejoice, Karma Wilson
He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands, Kadir Nelson
Bedtime Rhyme, Walter Wangerin
When Daddy Prays, Nikki Grimes
Why Do You Love Me? Martin Baynton
You Are Special, Max Lucado

Other favorites that I’m forgetting?


8 thoughts on “Theology for Three Year Olds and Second Children

  1. Thanks for posting this, Sarah! I need some new things to start reading to our second born and also 3 yr old son. 🙂

    • Those poor second borns! Ours largely – and graciously – sits through whatever we’re reading to his older sister, although he draws the line at D’Aulaire’s Greek Myths. I needed to remind myself, most of all, that he needs the same books I fell for when his sister was his age.

    • I suppose you don’t want me to wait another year until the little guy is 4, right? 🙂

      Actually, quite a few of the 3s books carried over for us — especially Stories Jesus Told, What is the Church, and Bedtime Rhyme. I remember 4 being prime time for wordless books like Peter Spier’s Jonah. And beginning to introduce books that are more thematically complex (and are still with us at 6!), like Caedmon’s Song, Sidney and Norman, and the Brian Wildsmith books.

      But Haley, I think, will have to be the current resident expert on 4. I am just now re-learning the roller coaster that is 3…!

  2. Ok, I did laugh a little…I have four, ages 9 to 1….but I think it’s great that you are so passionate about reading to your kids. I am too, and now when we do our weekly library trip they all get excited. 🙂 Just remember that they won’t recall much about which books you read, it’s the reading (and the love) that matters.

    • Thanks for the encouraging words, Michelle! The weekly library trip is a highlight at our house, too. In fact, as I type, my six-year-old is literally bouncing with impatience because the library doesn’t open until 1 pm today — and she has read enough to get a prize in the summer reading program. Her excitement, and sheer delight in her accomplishment, is so contagious.

  3. I totally got this! First child got two books before nap and bedtime, plus many, many more in between…second child gets one before bed (if we’re lucky). We’re expecting our third, so naturally, I’m experiencing a combination of hope – “This time, I’ll get it figured out!” – and a sort of realism that acknowledges that, No, I probably won’t.

    Hooray for the natural exercises in humility that God has so kindly built into parenting.

  4. Thanks for the great post!
    Two current favorites at our house are both by Deedra Scherm: The ABC Bible Verse Book and Whale and Jonah.

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