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5 Books on Church History for Kids (and Grown-ups)
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5 Books on Church History for Kids (and Grown-ups)

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Words by Théa Rosenburg // Images by Felicia Marie

My father used to read to me from The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire. He read it in answer to some question about my homework, some question that probably did not involve the Romans, and he read it at length. I know now that that was an awesome thing to do—take my homework question and place it in context by linking it to the historical moment that preceded it—but as a sophomore eager to finish that assignment so I could get back to living life (i.e. watching MTV while I waited for my hair color to set), I did not appreciate my father’s approach. 

I appreciate it now. Just as we can’t pull Leviticus out of context and expect to understand its laws and commands, we can’t pull our point in history out of context and expect to understand how we got here, where we are headed, or what we must do to change. 

History is our broader context: from the decisions our parents made that shape our lives now, to the decisions some emperor made hundreds of years ago that shape the structure of our cities, we need to have at least a passing familiarity with them in order to understand our own roles and responsibilities now. When we isolate our particular moment in time, it seems absurd, because we do not see the series of events large and small that shaped it. 

I only began to appreciate this fact a few years ago, when I dipped my toes into the vast and lovely sea of historical narratives. I discovered many interesting things about our world and about the God who made it, and my way in to each new subject came, in most cases, in the form of a children’s book. 

Church history quickly became one of my favorite genres of history, so I have compiled a list of some of my favorite books about church history here. While they’re technically recommendations for the children you love, I hope you will enjoy them too. And if you find that after reading them you’re hungry for further study, I have included, wherever possible, recommendations for you.  


Princess of the Reformation: Jeanne D’Albret, by Rebekah Dan 

Jeanne D’Albret, Queen of Navarre, gets a passing tip of the hat in a few books on the Reformation, but Rebekah Dan’s book tells the whole story of her life, from her childhood as a mischievous, strong-willed princess, to her reign as a protestant queen at odds with her husband, many of her own people, and the Catholic church. Jeanne D’Albret was instrumental in bringing reformed theology to her kingdom, and Dan tells her story beautifully.

See also: “Reformation Women: Jeanne D’Albret,” in Tabletalk magazine 

The Church History ABCsby Stephen J. Nichols & Ned Bustard  
The alphabet serves as twenty-six stepping stones here, as Stephen Nichols leaps from each one to some significant figure of faith. From Augustine to Zwingli, Nichols introduces us to stories well-known and obscure, and shows us how wide and varied the Christian life can be.

See also: 
Reformation ABCs, by Stephen J. Nichols & Ned Bustard 

Lily: The Girl Who Could See, by Sally Oxley & Tim Ladwig 
Lilias Trotter could have been, in John Ruskin’s words, “the greatest living painter” whose work might be “immortal.” But when the Lord called her to mission work in Algeria, she went, though it meant ending her training as an artist. Sally Oxley introduces us to her story and shows how the very gifts that made Trotter’s paintings breathe were the ones that allowed her to articulate the Gospel for the people of Algeria.  

See also:
A Passion for the Impossible, by Miriam Huffman Rockness 
Parables of the Cross, by Lilias Trotter 

The Life of Martin Luther, by Augustino Traini 
This biography gets three things right: the content is deep, the language is clear, and the illustrations are three-dimensional. Augustino Traini introduces young readers to the story of Luther’s life in this a simple, exuberant pop-up book.  

See also:
 Luther on the Christian Life: Cross and Freedom, by Carl Trueman 

The History Lives Series, by Mindy & Brandon Withrow 
In five volumes, the Withrows guide readers through the history of the Church, starting in the first century and stopping at the modern church. But this is not a dry recounting of names, dates, and historic events: these books are filled with living stories that show Christians striving to make God’s glory known, at any cost, to those around them.  
This is a great resource for introducing kids to the big, unfinished story of the Church, but it’s also—if I’m perfectly honest—a great introduction for adults new to the subject. (My husband and I both started here.) 

See also: 
Church History in Plain Language, by Bruce Shelley 
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