As Christians, we are to pass the faith on to the next generation. Whether we are parents or grandparents, church staff or volunteers, we have been tasked to make disciples (Matthew 28:19). One of the primary ways we can be discipling the next generation is by encouraging them to be readers.
We serve a God who created all things by using words (Genesis 1-2) and a Savior who calls himself the Living Word (John 1:1-14). Christians are also called to be a people of the Word and to meditate upon God’s Word day and night (Psalm 1).
Not only should we – and our children – feed upon God’s Word, but we should also be feeding upon other words. That is, we should be reading. We should be reading theological books, classics, fiction, etc. Teaching our children to be readers in many different genres and categories will foster a deeper appreciation for the various genres and categories found in Scripture.
However, simply saying that we should disciple our students to be readers can seem like a daunting task. Where do we begin? What books should we focus on? At what ages should this begin? These questions led to the creation of the following plan.
What follows is a suggested discipleship plan for middle school through high school. Any compilation of books, including this one, has its limitations. For starters, there are many great books that aren’t listed. To be honest, there were books we love and wanted to include on this list, but we simply couldn’t fit them in.
Other aspects to consider are the reading rate and reading motivation that vary from student to student. Some students will scoff at the lack of challenge in the following list and desire to read more, which is great! Other students, however, will scoff because they hate reading and will find the list to be too strenuous.
If we truly believe we are to make disciples and we truly believe that part of the discipleship process involves reading, then we must be making readers of the next generation. For the Christian, this isn’t optional. If you think about it, our students are expected to stretch themselves mentally at school, so let’s stretch some of them through this plan.
The plan that follows not only suggests theological books we think are helpful, but also tells you the approximate number of pages you need to read per day to finish in the allotted time. The reading plan is based on reading five days a week. Students can use the weekend to take a break or to catch up. Note: When booklets are suggested, a page number is not listed because of their brevity.
It is also suggested that parents read alongside their children in the middle school years. Not only are they younger and still growing in reading, there is also some mature content suggested that you will want to read with them. As they get older, give them the independence to read on their own, but plan on having discussion throughout the week and month, based on what they are reading. Hopefully, this will also prove to be helpful in your conversation with your child – it will give you something to talk about.
Something to keep in mind . . .
As mentioned, there are readers on different spectrums, but there are also students on different maturity levels. Some of the books listed deal with challenging topics. For those books, we’ve also suggested alternative titles. However, because of the prevalence of some of these issues in our culture, we think it’s important to equip your children by talking about these topics. If you choose to omit these books, our suggested titles may be helpful. We also give other suggestions of titles that may share similarities in a specific area.
One important note: Understand that this reading is done in addition to Scripture reading. There’s no substitute for God’s Word; therefore, be sure your student is feeding upon the eternal Word of God, above all other books. A helpful tool in light of this is the NIV Lifehacks Bible. It was put together by Joe Carter with a foreword by Kevin DeYoung. It contains 365 articles that accompany Scripture texts. Students can pick a specific biblical text, read it and read the accompanying article. This will greatly assist their interpretation and application of the text. We recommend this is valuable resource.
I know this plan may overwhelm some. If that’s the case, then adjust it in a way that best disciples your child. You know your child best. Whatever adjustments you make, just make sure you do something in the area of discipleship.
Children are an amazing gift from God, but they are not ours – they belong to God. We are merely stewards. We are to steward the young souls under our care. We hope this plan assists you unto that great end.
[CLICK TO DOWNLOAD FREE GUIDE]
[TO ORDER PRINTED COPIES, SEE ORDER FORM BELOW]
We say “approximate” because some editions of the books may vary. Just know that this page number is pretty close and gives you a good range of what should be read.
If you would like to order one or more hard, physical copies of the Student Discipleship Guide to use with your group, please fill out this order form.