A tween is a child between 9 and 12. We want to provide good Christian books for our tweens, while understanding that they’re beginning to have different interests from when they were little kids, and The Jesus Storybook Bible just isn’t going to cut it anymore.
However, even though they’ve grown out of a lot of Christian picture books, they may not be ready for the commitment of a daily or weekly devotional meant for tweens. Lets face it, a lot of adults can’t commit to a devotional, it’s silly to expect our tweens to embrace them all the time.
Take heart! There are some really wonderful Christian books for tween boys that AREN’T devotionals. These include non-fiction, Christian fiction, faith based graphic novels, and magazines for tweens and young teens.
Because I know that we all love tweens who have professed belief in Jesus, and some tweens who haven’t done that, these resources are all acceptable for both those who are saved, and unsaved. There’s no assumption in any of them that the reader has prayed for salvation. Instead, they provide Bible truths at a level accessible to tweens, packaged in a not-cheesy way. (You won’t find any stock images of skateboarders here.)
They’re also all tried and tested in our home by our tween boy. It can be hard to find engaging content that stays true to the Bible, but also doesn’t talk down to our little men. They can handle TRUTH, and we do them a disservice if we don’t provide good faith based thing for them to read. Check these options out!
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Faith based books for Tween Boys that they will actually ASK to read
The Bible Explorer’s Guide by Nancy Sanders
This informative non-fiction guide is for the tweens in your life who inhale National Geographic for Kids, or love the popular Who Would Win books. Non-fiction readers, unite! This 80 page book is packed with facts and photos about the historical setting of the Bible. There are LOTS of words in this book, so don’t expect them to breeze through it in one sitting.
Even though the focus is on science and archeology, the book doesn’t lose any of the important high view of scripture. The account of creation would fit a young earth creationist’s worldview, and it talks about seven literal days of creation.
Related: A similar option for younger kids is the lift-the-flap book, Look Inside Bible Times. I review it here.
Light in the Darkness illustrated by Alex Webb-Peploe
With a gritty aesthetic, Light in the Darkness would fit right in on a modern comic book shelf. However, deeper truth lurks behind the hyper-stylized speech bubbles. The text is literally the NIV text of Luke 1 and 2. It’s excellent. It will be a quick read for most tween boys, however it could be one that you put in rotation and pull out for your child every December. (It’s marketed to 14 year olds through adult, but you could easily give it to a 9 year old who loves graphic novels. The story is just what we read around the Christmas tree every year.)
There is another Christian graphic novel in the series, The Third Day, which gives the same treatment to Luke 22 through 24. Although it is excellent, it is the story of Christ’s crucifixion, and significantly darker. Proceed with caution if you are going to give that one to a tween. (It’s been out of stock, I’m unclear if they’re going to continue to print it. I’ll update here with links if they do. Otherwise, look for it on your favorite site for used books.)
Degrees of Kelvin
Speaking of Christian graphic novels for tweens, I highly recommend Degrees of Kelvin. It’s a science fiction retelling of the book of Acts. It’s full color, fast paced, and a great option of truth packaged just right for tween boys. The reading level is not very high, so you could easily give this book to an 8 year old, or it would be an excellent option for an older tween who is a reluctant reader.
There is another Christian graphic novel for tweens available from the same publisher, called Captain Absolutely. It tackles the importance of championing truth. Content wise, it’s great. However, I did wonder when reading it if the illustrator ran out of colored pencils…every character is white. That felt a little weird to me in a modern graphic novel, so fyi. Overall, I recommend it for the excellent content. Just pick up Degrees of Kelvin, too, to add a little diversity to your book basket.
Sports Spectrum magazine
Sports Spectrum is a lengthy quarterly magazine filled with articles about Christians who are also amazing professional athletes. And I don’t mean “Christians,” I mean, sold-out-for-Jesus-Bible-believers. My son is obsessed with the stories. He’s 9, and the reading level is probably just slightly beyond him, so sweet spot is probably starting around 11 years old. I highly recommend this magazine for both believers and non-believers. It doesn’t assume that the reader is saved, or even moral. It just spreads truth through sports.
Just so we’re clear, I get no money from Sports Spectrum for singing its praises. They do not know or care who I am. I’m just a mom with a tween boy who wants to surround him with resources that he loves that will point him to Jesus, and this magazine does that. So you should know about it, even though I get no ad revenue from taking the time to tell you about it. (If you want more non-paid for reviews like this, make sure to sign up for my email newsletters.)
The Mother and Son Prayer Journal by Christie Thomas
Christie Thomas has created a really wonderful prayer journal focused on the life of King David for boys 6 to 12 years old. I am so happy to say that it is not only Biblically sound, and engaging, but also NOT CHEESY! Moms of eye-rollers, rejoice with me!! Highly recommend. The 52 lessons are meant to cover a whole year, with scripture readings, short devotionals, and places to record prayers.
It’s marketed for 6 – 12 year olds. I think that’s quite young. I recommend for 8 years old and up, and only for strong readers. If you try to use it with a 6 year old, be prepared to be EXTREMELY hands on and write all of their answers.
Contrary to everything else on this list, I think this is a resource that is best for kids who have professed belief in Jesus already. (Or “prayed the sinners prayer,” if that’s what your denomination is into.) There are several references to the Holy Spirit working in us, and when it talks about sin, it’s in reference to repenting of individual sin, not salvation.
(I am aware that the cover is slightly feminine. I don’t know, cover it with duct tape and sharpie or something if you think your son will think he’s too cool for it.)
The Wilderking Trilogy by Jonathan Rogers
Speaking of King David, imagine if the incredible story of King David was set in a swampy low-country frontier. The Wilderking trilogy imagines the teenage king-to-be in a different time and place, but maintains his devotion to God and doing the next right thing. Of course, it isn’t scripture, but the story provides excellent moral lessons, and a great springboard for deeper conversations.
The vocabulary level is quite advanced, so we’ve been working through the series as a read-aloud. If you have an advanced reader, the content is fine (some fighting), so they could read this independently. My tween is obsessed with the fast moving story, and I highly recommend it! (You do HAVE to read the three books in order. FYI.)
Related: If you’re looking for more Christian fiction, here’s a list of Christian books like The Magic Tree House series.
Mark Lowry stand up comedy from the 90s and early 00s
Now, here me out here. I know this isn’t a book, but it’s a great resource to share with your kids. Tweens love to laugh. And they think just the most ridiculous stuff is funny.
For example, Christian comedian Mark Lowry. He says the most ridiculous stuff about kids and school and his parents and church. My son HOWLS. I mean, just roars. However, at the end of every hysterical bit is a nugget of truth. The one that we’ve been talking about recently is that you don’t have to feel saved to be saved. Imagine getting to have that conversation from a comedy album?
You can download his classic clean comedy albums where ever you download your media – iTunes, or maybe even your local library.
The New City Catechism
This is the one resource that I don’t think your tween will jump at independently. However, I want to share it with you because it is so full of truth, and share how we’ve incentivized it to make our tween embrace it. The New City Catechism Children’s version is a series of questions and answers about our faith. It’s a fairly reformed, extremely Evangelical catechism.
You can buy the book for $2 on Amazon, or there’s a free app that you can download that has all of the same text. (We went for the free version in the app store.)
Now, your tween might not be all about memorizing important Biblical truths. All I have to say is give them a prize! We encourage our son to practice it by practicing it with him, and by offering a monetary prize. The more he memorizes, the more church camp we’ll pay for this summer. This will only work if your kid loves camp like ours does, but you get the idea. Give them a goal, and a SWEET prize. Little do they know that the real prize is knowing how and why God made them!