Resources for Family Devotions

One of my richest memories growing up in my family was the sweet times of family devotions, or “wisdom search” as we called it. A couple mornings each week, you could expect Mom to wake you up at 6:30am and herd us all together into the living room. With most of the eight of us children it was certainly pulling teeth to get us out of bed, but in the long run it was certainly worth it. Dad would lead us through a chapter in the Bible and we would each take turns reading 5 verses and sharing a comment. “What golden nugget can you share with us? What stood out to you?” Mom or Dad would often ask.

It was a simple time together. Not longer than an hour. Some times our response was minimal, but they would faithfully encourage us to think about the verse and share any thoughts that come to mind. Each time we were digging deeper into the Bible and growing in our love for God’s Word. My parents faithfulness certainly made an impact on my walk with the Lord. Praise God that all eight of us are walking with the Lord. Certainly a testimony to God’s grace.

Ultimately, it can be as simple as reading one Proverb a day, as we did over and over again.The Word is living and active, and sharper than any two edged sword. (Hebrews 4:12)  You can come together in the morning, evening, or around the meal table for your devotions. Whatever works best for you. Now there are numerous wonderful resources available to give you tools for helping hide God’s word into the hearts of your children. Here are a few recommendations that we have used or previewed.

For the toddler/preschool age, we have used and love the Jesus Storybook Bible. We have read it through at least 4-5 times now since my daughter was 2. It is so solidly Biblical and rich as it traces the story of Jesus’ redemption through each chapter. This takes maybe 15 minutes depending upon how many stories you read and discuss. We read it together before our school time each morning. Another good one is Big Picture Story Bible and Family Time Bible (we used this one primarily for the beautiful artwork, the stories are shorter than the Jesus Storybook Bible but it also covers many stories that other picture bibles do not include).

We also integrate this with bible memory verses and character reading. My ABC Bible Verses has verses that correspond to the alphabet along with character building stories. Along with this we are memorizing the catechism questions in Big Truths for Little Kids by Susan Hunt. I’ll ask, “Who made you?” And I love hearing my 2 & 4 year old shout, “God!” or “What are the three persons of God?” and they proudly declare, “The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit.” It’s so much fun.

For the elementary ages, some recommendations include: Long Story Short: Ten Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God by Marty Machowski. This book is fabulous for short devotions together whether you are tight on time or lacking in the area of children being able to focus. The devotions are simply reading a short passage of Scripture followed by discussion questions. Mighty Acts of God (another longer storybook style), Training Hearts, Teaching Minds (devotions based upon the shorter catechism), and Big Truths for for Young Hearts by Bruce Ware (a great introduction into the study of doctrine and theology- probably best for 10-12 year olds) are a few other excellent resources.

A recent new release by Nancy Guthrie, called One Year of Dinner Table Devotions and Discussion Starters, is another I am really excited about. Here’s a snippet about it:

“Whereas most family devotionals focus on Bible stories or on practical moral lessons, Dinner Table Devotions and Discussion Starters focuses on biblical themes, concepts, and words, in ways that are understandable to children without talking down to adults or teens. It will help your family take a step back to look at the big picture of what God is doing in the world and his purposes and plans in creating and redeeming the world. Once you and your family have worked your way through this book, you will have discussed nearly every major attribute of God and a host of profound theological truths, such as justification, redemption, substitution, and sanctification–without all those daunting words. You will have looked into important concepts from the Bible, such as covenant, adoption, judgment, and redemption, as well as spiritual realities, such as hell, angels, resurrection, and glorification. This is not dry theology for theology’s sake, but living theology that makes a huge difference in how we do battle against temptation, deal with disappointment, and determine our futures.” Sample the first 10 chapters here.

From a young age, at least when we were first able to read (5-6 years), my dad would purchase for us our own Bible and encourage us to start our own personal devotions. We would start with The Picture Bible for our own reading before graduating up to a full bible. The Picture Bible was one we all loved and was so well read by each of us it would start falling apart. So we would do a personal devotions time followed by family devotions each day.

I pray you would be encouraged and blessed to press on in planting God’s Word in the hearts of your children! It’s a worthwhile pursuit.

What tools or tips can you share for establishing family devotion time together?

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of four, homemaker, and writer. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

19 Responses to Resources for Family Devotions

  1. Sarah October 19, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

    We have long used the Jesus Storybook Bible. We had to replace the first one and I found the deluxe addition which has CDs of the whole book read by David Suchet for those nights where I just can’t get the energy to read. Mr. Suchet has a beautiful, calming voice. My children 5 and 8 love this book. We also like Jesus Calling for Kids, by Sarah Young, which we read at breakfast. That does take a little explaining, as it is like Jesus is talking to us. I like the adult version as well. We have also used ABC Bible verses with great success. There are times when my 8 year old grumbles at me, all I have to do is ask him what the D verse is (Do all things without complaining and disputing) and he gets it. We use other verses as well, but that seems to be the favorite one at our house.

  2. Nola October 17, 2011 at 5:12 pm #

    We also use the Big Picture Story Bible and Big Truths for Little Kids. Right now we are working through an old children’s story Bible that we borrowed from our church library. We go back and forth on things. We also have one of those picture Bibles but I can’t remember the name, it goes through all the basic stories from the Old and New Testament, and I use that in the mornings with the kids (the other is in the evening). We also do memory verses in the morning. We learn new ones and then review old ones sometimes too. They were on a paper but its getting worn out so I am going to put them on q cards in a recipe box (plastic ones) and then that will keep them nicer and I can file them under “review” or “new to learn” etc. Its amazing to me what they can learn so young, my 2 year old amazes me especially its incredible.

  3. Laura @ Beholding Glory October 17, 2011 at 6:54 am #

    I just love all the resources you share. Thank you!

    One of the things we like to do (not for family devo but along side of) is for my husband and I to share what we read that morning in our personal time with the Lord while we are eating breakfast. Our kids are only 3, 4 and 11 months but we want it both to be taught and caught that God’s Word is super important.

    a href=””>Beholding Glory

  4. Shonda October 16, 2011 at 8:35 am #

    I just reviewed My First Hands On Bible for Preschoolers from Tyndale House. It is excellent! It actually IS the Bible! There are easy activities and games throughout as well as prayers and Jesus connection for every story. The pictures are beautiful and the stories are short. I would highly recommend it!

  5. Heather | Mom 4 Life October 15, 2011 at 9:40 pm #

    We love the Jesus Storybook Bible and i have just made a note to add Nancy’s new book to our Christmas list, thank you!

  6. Debra @ Sweet Kisses and Dirty Dishes October 15, 2011 at 5:02 pm #

    We use, and enjoy, Special Times with God for devotions with our 2 year old.

  7. Corinne October 15, 2011 at 11:55 am #

    I would use the Jesus storybook Bible with a bit of caution. Since reading such glowing reviews about it for a couple years I purchased it for my son & family, and then later read through it. The author’s version of some stories are not consistent with the Bible’s account. One example, an excerpt from a chapter in the book titled “The Girl No One Wanted”:

    p. 70 ‘Rachel was the kind of girl who always gets invited to parties and chosen for the team.’

    p. 71 ‘Jacob looked at Rachel and he looked at Leah. Who would he choose? Of course he chose Rachel.’

    p72 ‘”No one loves me,” Leah said. “I am too ugly.”‘

    Read your Bible and compare the two stories. While I think I understand the authors intent of making these stories accessible to children, one must stay true to the Bible’s account. We have a great responsibility in trainng our children to kow the Lord, and we will stand before God and give an account one day. Always compare your teaching resources to what the Bible says. So, if/when I pass this book on to my son and his family I will be sure to tell them to use it with discernment.

  8. Jen October 15, 2011 at 7:02 am #

    Great list! We have The Jesus Storybook Bible and Long Story Short. Both are excellent! I can’t say enough about them! The Jesus Storybook Bible is just an excellent presentation of bible stories and I love how the author weaves in Jesus as our rescuer through each story. Long Story Short is wonderful! We just started it this fall during our lunch time. The lessons are maybe 15 min. max and easy for my 5 year old to understand. I’m not sure if my 4 yr old gets it every time, but he’s gleaning bits and pieces. We will definately be using this devotional for a long time. I can already tell how, as my kids get older, they will get more and more out of the questions.

    Thanks so much for this list of devotionals! It helps so much!!

  9. Kristen October 15, 2011 at 6:18 am #

    Great post! Thank you!!!

  10. Lyndall October 14, 2011 at 9:05 pm #

    Thanks for this wonderful list! Since the beginning of the year, we have been working through Crystal Bowman’s ‘One Year Devotions for Preschoolers’ with my now three-year-old each night. It has been great, and even if she doesn’t fully understand all of the concepts being discussed, I love the way that we are establishing a habit for life. We also read a story from one of our childrens’ Bibles. Each one was given to us, but we were finding they didn’t hit the mark as we hoped for various reasons. Based on your commendations, we recently bought the Jesus Storybook Bible and Susan Hunt’s ‘Big Truths for Little Kids’, and look forward to giving her these for Christmas.

    We’re also soon starting the Charlotte Mason Scripture Memory System – even though we’re not going to be homeschooling. I’ve been really convicted to get into this after reading ‘The Well Versed Family’ by Caroline Boykin. What an amazing foundation for my kids to have – scriptures committed to memory from an early age!

    Speaking of Christmas, I’m looking forward to starting ’30 Days with Mary and Joseph’ by Jo Glen. Not sure if you can get it in the US – I’m in Australia and imported it from the UK. It’s a book (which folds out into a 3D model) for advent for kids, with a part of the nativity story each day, and a sticker representing part of the story to place on the background. We’ll also be doing activities from Debbie Trafton O’Neal’s ‘Before and After Christmas’. Looking forward to hearing your suggestions on the advent season and Christmas in your home!

  11. Stacy Makes Cents October 14, 2011 at 6:13 pm #

    We love the Jesus Storybook Bible. What a great post with wonderful resources!
    Our family devotions are at night before bed. We’re currently using this book and we really like it.

  12. Autumn October 14, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

    I always love reading about what you’re doing for family devotions. We’re a HUGE fan of the Jesus Storybook Bible. We got the book + audio version on amazon and it’s literally all my kids ever want to listen to in the car. They’ve got whole stories memorized from listening to it so much. I love it so much that I give the book to new moms along with a meal, which is how we got the it in the first place!

    The catechism I like to use with my boys (ages 3 and 4) is My 1st Book of Questions and Answers by Carine Mackenzie. The answers are perfectly worded for little ones to repeat and memorize.

  13. Bethany October 14, 2011 at 10:22 am #

    Thanks for these resources. I have been wanting to get a book for family devotions. This list will be helpful in choosing one.

  14. Jordan Carlson October 14, 2011 at 10:11 am #

    thank you, thank you for this list!! we love the jesus storybook bible and i am excited to check out the others when i can.

    i really appreciate your blog, the subjects covered and the heart shared through them too! thanks again!

  15. Lorilee October 14, 2011 at 6:46 am #

    Thanks for these ideas! Right now we do bible stories during our ‘Bible’ class in home school but before bed I prefer to read to them straight out of the Bible (we have done this since they were 2 and 4). We read the International Childrens Translation so some of the words are a bit more simple but it is still a translation not a paraphrase.

    I like this because:
    1. The word of God is powerful and lifechanging by itself.
    2. When they get memory verses or hear verses in church it often triggers that they heard it before.
    3. The complex ideas, words and sentence structure is great for them to start hearing.
    4. They have a introduction to the order and lingo. When someone says 1 Peter… they have an idea what and where it is.

    both 2 and 3 make memorization easier as well.

    The problem we face is that not all the Bible is kid friendly and there are some spots I skip over, but we have been doing this consistanly for a few years and have read the entire new testement and are half-way through Job in the old testement. … now that we are well over half-way I am excited that my kids are going to hear the whole Bible through before they are even 9 or 10 years old.

  16. Kinda Crunchy Kate October 14, 2011 at 4:23 am #

    We use the ABC Bible verses too for Bible memorization. I wanted to pass along a website that has made a curriculum around the ABC Bible verses book. Its 1+1+1=1 and its called Raising Rock Stars. The entire preschool curriculum is free and she’s working on the kindergarten one now. We’ve integrated that into some of the homeschooling things we are doing to further reinforce the verses we’re learning.

    Thanks for this post, Lindsay! I’m excited to have discovered a few new books!

  17. Alene October 14, 2011 at 4:21 am #

    Thank you so much for this list. We purchased the Jesus Storybook Bible for my son for Christmas last year based on your recommendation and we love it. We also are doing Big Truths for Little Kids. It’s amazing what a 3-year-old can memorize and he gets so excited to give the answers.

  18. Emily October 14, 2011 at 3:55 am #

    There is a wonderful resource at that is FREE! It is for family devotions with children of all ages. It includes a hands on activity, singing, prayer, catechism, Bible reading and questions. It even has a bonus section for older teens. It starts in Genesis and goes from there! Visionary Parenting is run by a wonderful minister, Dr. Rob Rienow, who also wrote a book with the same title.

  19. Lacey Wilcox October 14, 2011 at 3:53 am #

    This wouldn’t be appropriate for young children but is a great husband/wife devotional: Voice From the Past. It’s a collection of Puritan writings and is wonderful!!!