Why Reading Fiction With Your Child Will Grow Their Faith

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INSIDE: Why stories, particularly God stories, are crucial for the spiritual development of children, and 3 free stories.

Dav was the type of kid that got in trouble a lot in class, so he spent a lot of time in the hallway. In the hallway, he wrote comic books. 

He was later diagnosed with dyslexia, so reading, in general, was hard for him.

​In a recent interview, he talked about having dyslexia and becoming discouraged with reading. His mom, realizing that he was getting discouraged, decided that she would try to encourage him to read anything. Rather than focusing on what he was reading, she got him a library card and let him get anything he wanted. 

“There was no judgement whatsoever. And so I read all the time, and I think that’s really what changed me. Fun leads to habits, and habits lead to skill. And before you know it, I identified as a reader. And I still do today.”

(from an interview in ​The Costco Connection​, Sept/Oct 2018.)

Because his mom made learning fun, today, Dav Pilkey is an author. He writes the kind of books that kids who struggle with reading actually want pick up. (You may have heard of the massively popular Captain Underpants and ​DogMan books…?) 

Raising Christian kids isn't always easy, but they can grow in Christian faith through stories and fiction books, just as much as through Bible studies. #children'sbooks #Christianparenting #familydiscipleship #familyfaith #hopegrownfaith

Stories are powerful

Stories are powerful, and so is fun. They both have the power to change our lives; not just to turn us into voracious readers, but to attune us to the spiritual world and remind us of the power of God.

Great books like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe have engaged generations of children in their faith, simply by telling a fictional story.

My own love affair with stories started young. I constantly had my nose in a book. To my parents’ constant frustration, when I was reading, I was so engrossed that I literally could not hear them speaking to me from 5 feet away.

I sunk into stories like an anchor: deep and heavy, oblivious to the current of life all around me. They transported me into other worlds.

Non-fiction doesn’t typically have this kind of transportive affect on anyone. It has its purpose, but many voracious readers will tell you that fiction had a much greater affect on their lives.

Story is such an incredible force, but not just because it can pull you into another world.

Stories communicate truth

Flannery O’Conner said

“A story is a way to say something that can’t be said any other way.”

There are many facts of life that can be explained, but some truths are so deep that we only truly experience and understand them through story.

Story is used to communicate truth all throughout the Bible. Did you know that over 40% of the Old Testament is written in story format?

Also, apparently about 35% of Jesus’ teaching was in story format (also known as the parable).

I believe that is because stories connect us with God, humanity, and truth, like nothing else can.

If you’re wondering why, we can ask Jesus himself why he used story. His first disciples asked him why he used story, and here is his response:

‘He replied, “You’ve been given insight into God’s kingdom. You know how it works. Not everybody has this gift, this insight; it hasn’t been given to them. Whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understandings flow freely. But if there is no readiness, any trace of receptivity soon disappears. That’s why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight. In their present state they can stare till doomsday and not see it, listen till they’re blue in the face and not get it.”’

Matthew 13:11-13 (MSG) (emphasis added)

Jesus used stories to both hide and illuminate truth.

Or, as illustrated by Anthony De Mellow,

“a lost coin is found by means of a candle; the deepest truth is found by means of a simple story.”

Anthony DeMellow

God stories also create receptivity to truth

Communicating truth is great, but if our hearts are not receptive, that truth will simply bounce off without changing us. A good God story will not just communicate truth, but create receptivity to truth as well.

There’s a story in the Bible where God’s chosen king lusts after the wife of one of his trusted military leaders. He has her brought to his room, where he impregnates her. Then, he tries to cover up his crime by getting her husband to come home on early leave. The man is more honourable than the king, and refuses to go home while his men are still in battle. So the king has him placed at the front of the line of battle, where he dies. 

Awful, right?

So God sent a prophet to the king. But the prophet didn’t slam down a book and say, “you broke the rules!” Had he shared the truth in that way, the king would have had him thrown in the dungeon.

Rather, the prophet told the king a story.

There was a man who owned one single lamb, and it was was his beloved lamb. He cared deeply for it. Next door lived a rich man who owned many lambs. One day, the rich man needed a lamb for a feast, and rather than using one of his own lambs, he took and killed his neighbour’s lamb. 

On hearing this story, the king was furious at the rich man who stole the beloved lamb. Rightly so. His heart had been softened, and was now ready for the truth spoken by the prophet: “you are that man.” 

The story softened the king’s heart and made him acknowledge the depth of his crime, and repent from it. (You can read the full story in 2 Samuel 12)

As you can see, stories are powerful because they create receptivity to the truth.

Stories can change our lives, and the lives of our children.

“Stories you read when you’re the right age never quite leave you. You may forget who wrote them or what the story was called. Sometimes you’ll forget precisely what happened, but if a story touches you it will stay with you, haunting the place in your mind that you rarely ever visit.”

Neil Gaiman, M is for Magic

Stories are for everyone

Sarah Mackenzie from The Read Aloud Revival has researched the importance of reading aloud with our kids. She says,

“When our kids are grown and gone, they won’t likely mind that their childhood included dishes piled in the sink, that we never ever reached the bottom of the laundry basket. But they’ll remember the stories, and they’ll treasure the time we spent reading to them.”

Sarah Mackenzie

Stories are also an EASY way to talk about and share faith with kids. You don’t need to know anything – you just need to pick up a book!

If we are to read with our kids, obviously we want to spend our precious reading time in stories that stories that are worth our time. We want stories that stir the imagination and the soul. There are many books in the world that do one or the other, but not nearly enough that do both.

If you’re ready to read stories with your kids that are fun but also communicate truth and cultivate a receptive heart, I have three stories just for you.

These original stories will move both you and your kids as you read, study, and learn together. They are each read-able in a single session, giving you a quick win with your kids! And if you would like more resources to help you relate the story to God’s Word, there is a study guide at the end of each story.

These stories are far different from the typical devotional-type stories that you find in a family devotional book.

Rather, they will engage your child’s imagination, sending them to a different world where they learn more about God. They are the best kind of God stories.

If you enjoy CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, or Stephen Lawhead’s fantasy books, or Ted Dekker’s Circle series, you will love the deep spiritual implications of each of these stories. 

What others have said about my God stories:

I loved how relatable the text was. You put us in the story to relate to the hurting and broken, which relates to the hurting and broken parts of us. The stories are written in beautifully descriptive fairy tale form. Very easy to read! I love how the questions following the stories reference to Biblical stories that relate to them, challenging the readers to imagine the details that are in the Bible and how that relates to their personal life.

– Andrea, mom of 2

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The Girl in the Tattered Dress

I have never, in all my life, read a story that so poignantly and compellingly described exactly what Christ has done for us. This story invites the reader beyond information and into holy experience.

– Hannah, mom of 3

Even though this story was intended for children, I think it speaks to us as women as well. Our worth is sometimes confused by this world and by people’s opinion and expectations of us. Yet for God, we are more valuable than the finest diamond, he knows our name. This story is about homecoming and can suit any person, any age, anywhere. Masterpiece! I cried when I read it.

– C.C, mom of 3

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The Mapmaker’s Treasure

What an incredible conversation starter with my kids! While the story kept us guessing with its surprising twists, along with the well-thought discussion questions, it presents bedrock truths about the Bible and prayer in a way that kids can understand.

– Hannah, mom of 3

I think the verse from John 4:6 ” I am the way, the truth and the life…” comes alive in this story in all it’s fullness and we learn that the reward of salvation can only be found through the Lord. As some try to deceive us, fool us on the wrong path so we lay astray or even shake our faith, this story brings us back to how much we really need to seek God for wisdom, strength and guidance. Loved it! 

– C.C. mom of 3

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A sheep’s tale

This captivating story brings the truth of a familiar parable and rich, imaginative language together to create a memorable reading experience for the whole family. Thank you for this awesome resource!

– Hannah, mom of 3

My daughter and I just read the first one,”A Sheep’s Tale,” before bed. Her response was an emphatic,”I REALLY liked that.” Followed by,”Who wrote that and where is it from?” When I asked her why she liked it so much she explained that she likes how it tells of how God is always with us and how He heals us. For me, it has stirred up thought and self reflection about how far from “the fold” we wander and sometimes don’t even realize until it’s too late. Thought-provoking and comforting all at the same time!

– Cathy, mom of 3

I can relate to this story in many ways. Such a great metaphoric lesson both for the old and the young. Jesus is the good shepherd and this story clearly illustrates the parable of the lost sheep. Kept me wanting more even if I knew how things would end, there is a palpable suspense all the way through. Loved it!

– C.C. mom of 3

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