Categories of Spiritual Books

My boys LOVE reading books, and as you can see, my twin niece and nephew feel the same way. In fact, most children I know love listening to a good story! As a parent I’m always on the lookout for books that I can use to further my children’s spiritual education. Knowing the categories of spiritual books helps me recognize the many spiritual stories we already own!

Karen Marie Yust author of Real Kids, Real Faith: Practices for Nurturing Children’s Spiritual Lives defines 4 types of faith story books: close readings, stories about the tradition’s stories, books linking tradition and contemporary life, and stories exemplifying spiritual principles.

Close Readings are books that remain close to scripture stories. One example, from my personal library is the book Noah’s Crew Came 2 By 2 by Mindy MacDonald. This type of faith story book is the easiest to spot. They are typically based on scripture stories we are all familiar with.

Stories about the tradition’s stories are books that look at a scripture story from a new perspective. I love the story Who Is Coming to Our House? (Board Book) by Joseph Slate. It is the perfect example of a story about a scripture. It looks at the birth of Jesus from the perspective of the stable animals.


Books linking tradition and contemporary life become slightly more difficult to recognize. They are books, according to Yust, that explicitly take some aspect or issue of contemporary life and relate that concern to scripture or the practices of the religious tradition. One famous example is Judy Blume’s classic, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. An example from my own library is the book Little Ways to Give God Praise by Sally Anne Conan.

Stories exemplifying spiritual practices are the books that you probably have the most of in your home. They are ones  that take a spiritual principal and give it a human face. In the story Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney children can see the spiritual principal of caring for creation exemplified by the main character.


Take a look at your children’s books and see which categories they fall into. Now that you know what you have, you can be on the lookout for books in the other areas when adding to your collection. And who doesn’t like to shop for books?!?

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