Category: Book Lists (page 1 of 11)

A Break and a Big Book List

Well—I find myself at a cross-roads and, dear readers, I don’t know how I feel about it. The truth is, we have crossed this wonderful threshold as a family and now, behold! Every human in our family is a fluent reader. We still read aloud together now, but it’s become optional. No one really needs me to read to them (or pre-read for them) in the way they once did. And I’m left wondering: is this blog something I’ll continue in this stage of life? Or is there something else the Lord is calling me to?

Right now, I don’t know. But a rest seems wise, and some time to reflect. So here is my plan: I’m going to take a six-month sabbatical from posting here. My hope is that this step outside my weekly rhythms of publishing (ten years of them!) will allow me to prayerfully consider what’s next—and if “what’s next” is returning here, then huzzah! I’ll come back with renewed vigor and a whole heap of new books to share.

In the meantime, I plan to continue sharing occasional reviews at Story Warren, and I’ll pop back in to let you know when they’re up. I may also send out periodic updates on my newsletter, so if you haven’t subscribed but want to stay in touch, you can subscribe to that right here:

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I cannot, however, bear to leave you without new reading material, so prepare yourself for over-compensation! I’ll finish this post with a giant list (and I mean giant) of all the books I’ve had piled up waiting to be shared. The ones I’ve been itching to tell you about. The ones I hope you’ll enjoy between now and next January.

Dear readers, thank you. You are such a joy to me, and the thought of changing what or how or if I write here makes me . . . oh, is there a word for it? The possibility of something new feels exciting! But also, the possibility of things changing here feels so, so sad. It’s been a long time, friends. I enjoy my work here immensely.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves! Instead, let’s pray. I’ll be seeking wisdom and resting, and I’d appreciate any prayers for clarity you’d like to offer on my behalf. I am so grateful for you.

And now, enough of that. Let’s talk about books!

The Big Fat “I’ll Miss You” Book List

Go and Do Likewise, by John Hendrix — A lovely and insightful look at the parables, from one of our favorite author/illustrators (also known and loved for Miracle Man and The Faithful Spy).

The Betsy-Tacy Series, by Maud Hart Lovelace — This series follows Betsy and Tacy through their school years, into the first years of their marriages. Delightful and lovely (even if Betsy gets awfully silly about boys for a few books there in the middle). If L.M. Montgomery had been raised in Minnesota, I imagine her books would read like Betsy-Tacy.

The Strange New Dog, by James Witmer — A chapter book for early readers, by one of our family’s favorite writers (see also: A Year in the Big Old Garden). This book is the first in a series—watch for the second one later this year!

The Arrow and the Crown, by Emma Fox — A retelling of “Beauty and the Beast” for teens that has become one of my daughters’ favorite rereads.

Growing in Godliness, by Lindsay Carlson — Written for teen girls, this book helps readers consider what it looks like to grow in Christ right now, where they’re at.

Arlo and the Great Big Cover-up, by Betsy Childs Howard — What does the gospel mean to us when we’ve disobeyed? This book walks through it beautifully.

The Story of Us, by Mitali Perkins — A poetic look at the whole story of the Bible, by the most wonderful author of Forward Me Back to You and Steeped in Stories.

Helen Roseveare: The Doctor Who Kept Going No Matter What, by Laura Caputo-Wickham — An excellent picture book biography for young readers about Helen Roseveare, a doctor who served God in the heart of Africa and risked an awful lot to do so. We love this whole series so much.

What Do I Do With Anger?, by Dr. Josh and Christi Straub — How can we think about anger biblically—in that moment when we’re mad things didn’t go our way? This book does a great job exploring that question in a practical, applicable way.

Working Boats, by Tom Crestodina — If your family loves cross-sections the way our family does, you’ll love this delightful nonfiction picture book (written and illustrated by our neighbor!).

Miriam at the River, by Jane Yolen — The story of Moses, through Miriam’s eyes. The illustrations are stunning!

The Forgotten King, by Kenneth Padgett — A powerful parable of the gospel, beautifully illustrated by Stephen Crotts.

Good Night Body, by Britney Winn Lee — Sometimes, going to sleep isn’t easy. This cozy picture book walks readers through the process of calming our bodies so we can fall asleep. When our youngest was in the throes of extended illness, this book became a nightly read and a lovely way to connect at the end of the day.

The O in Hope, by Luci Shaw — Luci Shaw’s poetry, made available for young readers! This book is a delight.

The Fantastic Flying Journey, by Gerald Durrell A trip around the world, in a hot air balloon, to examine animals all over the globe? Yes please! A joyful and hilarious journey by the author of My Family and Other Animals.

The Quill’s Secret, by Erin Greneaux — The second book in the Gold Feather Gardener series, this early chapter book invites readers on another adventure with Maya and Everly. And stay tuned for the third book! It’s coming!

God, Right Here, by Kara Lawler — What can the seasons tell us about God? This sweet picture book explores that question.

33, by Andrew Roycroft — Thirty-three poems meditating on the Gospel of John, each thirty-three words long and illustrated by Ned Bustard. We’ve been savoring this book one a poem at a time over lunch.

The Friend Who Forgives: Family Devotional, by Katy Morgan — This devotional is intended for family use, but it also works beautifully as a devotional for kids to use independently. Based on the excellent picture book by Dan DeWitt.

GraceFull, by Doreena Williamson — When Hope befriends a girl at church who is a refugee from Syria, she’s left with some big questions. This picture book explores these questions with tenderness and grace.

Little Prayers for Ordinary Days, by Katy Bowser Hutson and more — Like Every Moment Holy, but for little readers!

The Dreamkeeper Saga, by Kathryn Butler — A fabulous new fantasy trilogy! Our girls loved this series.

Crossing Bok Chitto, by Tim Tingle — A gorgeous historical story about how the Chocktaw people helped slaves to freedom. This one makes me cry every time.

The Light Princess, by George MacDonald — A classic fairy tale by the author of The Princess and the Goblin, beautifully illustrated by Ned Bustard.

My Breakfast With Jesus, by Tina Cho — This picture book takes readers to breakfast tables all around the world and considers how Christians all over the globe welcome the day.

The Songs of a Warrior, by Katy Morgan — A fantastic retelling of the story of King David for middle-grade readers (from the author of The Promise and the Light).

Count Yourself Calm, by Eliza Huie — Oh so good and practical, this one. This book teaches kids to calm themselves down when they’re upset, one breath at a time. Written from a Christian perspective.

Sophie and the Heidelberg Cat, by Andrew Wilson — When Sophie sins against her sister, she doesn’t know what to do to make things right. But then she meets the Heidelberg Cat, who walks her through the doctrines of grace.

Beneath the Swirling Sky, by Carolyn Leiloglou — Full disclosure: I haven’t read this one yet. Full, full disclosure: Carolyn Leiloglou is a friend of mine, so I am pre-disposed to like this book. But! I think you will too, so I wanted to put this middle-grade adventure on your radar well before its September release.

Wild Things & Castles in the Sky, ed. Leslie & Carey Bustard, Thea Rosenburg | Little Book, Big Story

Also worth mentioning: you can find many, many more books listed in Wild Things and Castles in the Sky, that book about books I co-edited with Leslie Bustard and her delightful daughter Carey. If your bookshelves need refreshing, it’s a great place to start!

Thank you all so much for reading! Your willingness to read along with me is such a blessing. I’m so grateful for you all, and I’ll see you in January!

Disclosure: I did receive copies of some of these books for review, but I was not obligated to review them or compensated for my reviews in any way. I share them with you because I love them, not because I was paid to do so.

Beautiful Novels for Teens

This year, fifty percent of our offspring will be over the age of thirteen. Half our children will no longer answer to the word “children.” They’ll be inching toward driver’s licenses and trigonometry and, egad, adulthood. And I am thrilled by this—I love it! Of course I have my qualms about leaving the days of slept-in braids and tutus and what will I do with myself when no one roller skates through the kitchen dressed like a dragon? But when it comes to teen daughters, I’m a big fan.

Sure, the emotions are real, and the slopes drop toward them real quick. And yes, the stakes feel higher the older they get—we only have so much time left to teach them Everything They Need to Know Before They Leave Home! But one of my favorite parts of this season is watching my daughters’ friendship deepen and grow as they get older: when they get home from some event, they often curl up on the couch together and talk it over, just the two of them. They have inside jokes and favorite songs and sometimes I feel, just a little and in the right way, on the outside of things with them. They write duets on the piano and pass books back and forth and occasionally lose patience with each other and then patch things up without me—their friendship is a beautiful thing to watch bloom.

And so, to celebrate this shift in our home, I thought I’d party the way I usually do and share some of our favorite books from this season so far.

Beautiful Books for Teens | Little Book, Big Story

The Sinking City, by Christine Cohen

The Sinking City, by Christine Cohen | Little Book, Big Story

The Sinking City is a beautifully written story that weaves fantastic elements into the solid structures of a real city. Venice seems like a plausible place in which to find magicians and wrathful sea monsters, and Liona surprises herself as well as readers as she navigates the city, trying to save it, her own life, and that of her family. The story is enjoyable and unpredictable, and Christine Cohen’s ability to craft complex, believable characters is stunning. (Read the full review.)

The Letter for the King, by Tonke Dracht

The Letter for the King, by Tonke Dragt | Little Book, Big Story

While in the middle of the vigil required of all incoming knights, Tiuri hears a voice outside the church. He is forbidden to speak or to leave the church during the vigil, but the voice cries for help. What should a knight-to-be do: obey his king and remain seated, meditating upon his impending knighthood, or answer the cry for help? That conflict kicks off a good, old-fashioned quest, knight and all. (Read the full review.)

Forward Me Back to You, by Mitali Perkins

Forward Me Back to You, by Mitali Perkins | Little Book, Big Story

When Katina and Robin embark on a missions trip to India, they each bring their own issues: Katina is recovering from an attempted assault at school, while Robin is hoping to find answers to some big questions from his past. Mitali Perkins weaves their stories together and explores some powerful questions. (Read the full review.)

The Lost Tales of Sir Galahad, by Jennifer Trafton, A.S. Peterson & more

Editors Jennifer Trafton and A.S. Peterson have assembled a collection of tales for those who have long loved Arthurian stories, as well as those (like me) who are only loosely familiar with them. Presented as a collection of rediscovered documents, The Lost Tales of Sir Galahad are liberally sprinkled with pseudo-scholarly footnotes. Some of these stories are clever and funny; some are beautiful and heart-rending; most are seasoned with a little bit of all those things. The book itself is gorgeously designed and illustrated by Ned Bustard.

The Shiloh Series, by Helena Sorenson

The Shiloh Series, by Helena Sorenson | Little Book, Big Story

The story of Shiloh begins in the dark, and it is a heavy tale, one that is honest about the damage of sin and the havoc it wreaks in our hearts. The characters go on grueling journeys through the darkness of Shiloh, but, as the back of the book promises, the story is ultimately one of courage and hope: Helena Sorenson brings the trilogy to a glorious conclusion. (Read the full review.)

Once Upon a Wardrobe, by Patti Callahan

This gorgeous historical novel weaves the biography of C.S. Lewis into the sweet story of Oxford student Megs and her invalid brother, George. I say “novel,” because that’s what the book itself wants me to call it, but this is also a book of ideas: what is a story? Why do stories move us so much? Callahan explores these rich concepts even as she tells us a beautiful story, one my teen connected with deeply.

Rosefire, by Carolyn Clare Givens

Rosefire, by Carolyn Clare Givens | Little Book, Big Story

Rosefire begins with one small action: Karan, daughter of one of the leading families of Asael, welcomes a girl with no memory of her past into her father’s home against his wishes. But this act establishes both Karan’s place and the place of the girl, Anya, in a story far greater than either of them—one that will shape and redeem their fragmented land. (Read the full review.)

Emily of Deep Valley, by Maud Hart Lovelace

Emily of Deep Valley, by Maud Hart Lovelace | Little Book, Big Story

Emily of Deep Valley follows Emily Webster, who has just graduated high school but feels like an outsider among her friends, who are all heading off to college while Emily stays home to care for her grandfather. This is a story rich in themes of sacrifice and love, one that challenges readers to stop looking over the fence at the next green field and start cultivating the soil they’re standing in. Emily keenly feels the boundaries placed about her, and yet she learns to flourish there. (Read the full review.)

Which books did your teens love?

Bible Study Resources for Kids

When we were homeschooling, I learned a trick for teaching my daughters math. If they were struggling to solve a problem, I would wait until I was tempted to answer for them . . . and then I would slowly count to three. My daughters usually solved the problems during that window, when I was fighting the urge to say, “Thirteen! It’s thirteen!”

As it turns out, this is great advice for raising teens (and almost-teens), too. When my daughters are tackling something new, I hold back as long as I can and fight that mom urge to just do it for them. It’s not easy. Sometimes I have to do deep breathing. But those extra three seconds are often just enough time for my daughters to do the thing themselves and emerge victorious, with that sense of confidence because they figured it out on their own.

So it is with Bible study. We still read the Bible together as a family, but I’ve also been trying to nurture in our older girls a desire to study Scripture on their own. These habits aren’t easy to build, but this is another place where I find I need to hand them good tools, set up their workspace for success, and then step back and pray silently over them as they do the actual work on their own.

And so, here are a few resources our family has found helpful in different stages as this particular plane makes its way down the runway. (Has it fully lifted off yet for anybody? No. But it’s pulling away from the airport!) I’ve ordered this list to start with resources for the youngest readers before moving on to resources for teens.

A Full-Text Kids’ Bible

Of course, a full-text Bible for kids is a great place to start. There are lots of options out there, and the best ones feature a few tools that help kids connect with the text and understand what they’re reading. Some of our favorites over the years have been the ESV Seek-And-Find Bible, the ESV Big Picture Bible, and—most recently—the CSB One Big Story Bible.

Kaleidoscope Kids’ Bibles

Kaleidoscope Kids Bibles | Little Book, Big Story

These Bibles hit that sweet spot between story Bible and the Bible itself. Each volume features a paraphrased version of a book of the Bible, perfect for readers who are comfortable with chapter books but not quite ready to navigate Leviticus alone.

Exploring the Bible, by David Murray

Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids, by David Murray (review) | Little Book, Big Story

This is a fabulous Bible study for kids that gives them a survey of the whole Bible, one short reading at a time. Our family did this together one year and found that it helped our daughters fit the individual stories of Scripture into the larger narrative of the whole Bible. Murray’s Meeting with Jesus is excellent too. (Read the full review.)

Best News Ever, by Chris Morphew

Best News Ever, by Chris Morphew | Little Book, Big Story

This Bible study takes middle school readers through the book of Mark with short readings and deep questions. (Read the full review.)

Draw Near, by Sophie Killingsley

Draw Near, by Sophie Killingley | Little Book, Big Story

Draw Near is a sort of pre-made bullet journal, with cleverly illustrated habit trackers and study guides that help readers young and old make Scripture reading and prayer a daily part of their lives. (Read the full review.)

Head Heart Hands, by Linda Allcock

Head, Heart, Hands Bible Study | Little Book, Big Story

This trio of Bible studies takes teen girls through the gospel of Matthew, inviting them to answer thoughtful questions and take what they learn about Jesus to heart.

Teen Study Bibles

We haven’t dug into many of these yet, but I have long been a fan of the ESV Journaling Bible, which allows readers to process their reading with a pen in hand (this is how I do my best thinking). Our eldest daughter uses the NIV Bible for Teen Girls, which contains devotional readings on a wide range of topics (including sex, so give this one a pre-read). The ESV Student Study Bible is excellent too, and I’ve heard great things about the CSB Seven Arrows Bible.

Which resources have your kids found helpful?

The Best Books I Read in 2022

This year our family turned a curious corner, one I can describe with a single scene. We were fresh back from the library with two bags of books, which the girls promptly upended before taking one each to the couch or to that green velvet wingback rocker that is essentially a deep, furry nest. And I walked into the living room, feeling charitable, with a few minutes to spare before I had to start making dinner, and asked the two younger girls, “Do you want me to read you a book?”

They didn’t even glance up from what they were reading—both chapter books, I noticed suddenly.

“No,” my third grader said.

“We can read them now,” my first grader said. “It’s okay.”

I had mixed feelings about this, obviously. I was delighted (Oh! Okay, I’ll just go read my book then) with a hefty sigh on the side—I wasn’t quite ready to be demoted to Understudy Reader. I know our days reading picture books together are not gone forever—my first grader does still need help reading, and my third grader will still ask me to read her a picture book from time to time. But the leaves are turning on this season for sure.

My own reading life, on the other hand, was oddly personal this year—until I made this list, I hadn’t realized how many of these books were written by people I know or about places I love. Or they were lifelong favorites, deeply entwined with nearly every season of my life. It’s as though I spent the year connecting with the world through good books—even as “connecting with my family through good books” began to look different. Namely, like me curled up next to the girls on the couch, each of us with a cup of tea and a book in hand.

I think I’m going to like this next season, too.

The Best Books I Read in 2022 | Little Book, Big Story

As always, choosing what makes this list (and what doesn’t) is tough. I read plenty of wonderful books this year that have or will make an appearance on this blog. But I love using this space to share books that I wouldn’t typically review. And I especially love hearing your favorite books from the year as well! Please feel free to chime in and share yours—I hope you discovered lots of delightful books this year too.

Sabriel, by Garth Nix

Truthfully, this book might fit better on a list of “Best Books I’ve Read Ever” or “Books I’ve Read So Many Times I’ve Lost Count.” And thus, it deserves a slightly longer introduction. So, let me tell you how I first met Sabriel: I was maybe seventeen and home sick one day when my mom handed me this book and then (as I recall) left for work. I spent the day there on the couch with my saltines, my ginger ale, and that paperback copy of Sabriel—which I tore through in a few hours before turning back to page 1 and beginning again.

I had always read hungrily anything that crossed my path, but I hadn’t encountered any stories like Sabriel—this book opened a door for me into this other world that was so absorbing, so compelling, so real. Garth Nix is a vivid, sensory-rich writer, and he’s at his best in Sabriel.

But why, you wonder, am I only mentioning this book now, nearly ten years after this blog’s beginning? Well, Sabriel is pretty dark. It has a lot to do, for example, with necromancy. And so, while good is clearly good in this story and evil is clearly a corruption of good, Sabriel may not be to everyone’s taste. But good gravy, I love it! So much. And if you’re not troubled by a few reanimated corpses, I think you’ll love it too.

Note: If you do pick up this book, you’ll notice that there are a half-dozen or so other books in the series. Should you read them all? Well, if you love Sabriel and can’t get enough of the Old Kingdom, yes! At least read the first three and maybe also Across the Wall and Goldenhand. But know that some are definitely better than others and I don’t necessarily recommend them all with the same fervor with which I recommend Sabriel.

Rembrandt is in the Wind, by Russ Ramsey

Last spring it seemed I couldn’t turn around without encountering a glowing review of this book, so when my mother-in-law gave it to me for my birthday, I dropped everything and read it. And wow: Russ Ramsey looks at a different artist in each chapter, drawing out powerful theological connections from their art and biographies. I learned things I didn’t know I didn’t know from this book, and I loved reading it.

The Green Earth, by Luci Shaw

I live in the same town as Luci Shaw—and in the neighborhood where it’s rumored she attends church. So it’s embarrassing that it’s taken me so long to read a full volume of her poetry. But! The Green Earth was worth the wait. Shaw’s poems are luminous, full of detail about the natural world as well as insights about the One who made it. I can tell already that her books shall henceforth be in regular rotation around here.

You Are Not Your Own, by Alan Noble

You Are Not Your Own, by Alan Noble | Little Book, Big Story

Alan Noble diagnoses one of the root ailments plaguing us as a culture and as people: we think we belong to ourselves, but we do not. This book cuts through the messages we’re surrounded with daily and reminds us that we are not actually responsible for crafting our own identities or becoming “the best version” of ourselves. Instead, we are to rest in the knowledge that we are created beings, loved and atoned for, and to do good works as an overflow of that love. This book is reassuring and invigorating, sobering and refreshing.

Letters from the Mountain, by Ben Palpant

Written as a series of letters from a father to his young adult daughter, Letters from the Mountain focuses largely on writing and the creative life of a Christian. But it’s also full of wisdom from a father whose children are nearly grown. This is a truly beautiful book—one to read and savor.

The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus, by Nate Walker

The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus, by Nate Walker | Little Book, Big Story

In fifty brief chapters, Nate Walker works through different ways the cross of Jesus applies to our life here on earth. He has a gift for seeing both sides of a thing at once and articulating both beautifully, and as he does he illuminates for us, fifty persuasive times, Jesus’s many-faceted love. This is a short book that I read as a devotional, but it could also serve as a great introduction to the gospel for new believers. (It is also worth noting that Nate is my pastor, so: bias confirmed. But even accounting for that, this book is brilliant.)

What Cannot Be Lost, by Melissa Zaldivar

Here is a family tradition that has only recently lifted of the ground: at thirteen, I take each of the girls somewhere they want to go; at eighteen, my husband will take them somewhere else they’d like to go. So, when our eldest daughter turned thirteen last year, she cast her vote for Orchard House—the home of Louisa May Alcott, author of one of our all-time favorite novels. That summer, the two of us flew from one corner of the country to another and spent five days exploring Concord, Massachusetts.

Our family has a lot of people in it, all living off a single income, so we don’t get to do things like this often. And it was glorious. All that time with my daughter—just us!—tromping around Sleepy Hollow Cemetery and drifting reverently through the Alcotts’ home? Those days were five of the best days I’ve had, ever.

So! Imagine my delight when I discovered that Melissa Zaldivar’s new memoir features Louisa’s story as well as stories from Zaldivar’s time as a tour guide at Orchard House. She braids these two strands together with a third: the loss of one of her closest friends and the grief she’s been walking through since. This slender book is a beauty, one that feels as though it truly cost the author something valuable—walking back through her grief couldn’t have been easy. But I’m grateful she shared it with us as generously as Louisa did her own grief over losing a sister.

A Swim in the Pond in the Rain, by George Saunders

George Saunders took a full course on writing fiction and turned it into a book—one I loved from beginning to end. A Swim in the Pond in the Rain looks at seven short stories (all written by celebrated Russian authors)—how they work and which lessons writers might glean from them. And he does this all in a way that is hilarious and approachable and illuminating, all at once. I’ll be rereading this one for sure.

Dracula, by Bram Stoker

Dracula, by Bram Stoker | Little Book, Big Story

Well! I guess this is a year for dark fiction. First reanimated corpses and now . . . Un-Dead reanimated corpses! But. Have you read Dracula? I had, but after reading an essay on it in Ordinary Saints (more on that another time!), I broke out my copy and gave it a re-read. And holy moly, it’s still amazing.

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

This year, I’m teaching a creative writing class at my eldest daughter’s (small) high school, and one of the books we’re discussing is To Kill a Mockingbird. So I pulled out my copy (acquired when I myself was in high school) and reread it and was struck anew by how moving, troubling, and gorgeously-written this book is.

Also: I read Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy this year as well, and reading these two almost consecutively (accidentally) was incredibly powerful. And so heart-breaking.

Bonus! That Sounds So Good, by Carla Lalli Music

That Sounds So Good, by Carla Lalli Music | Little Book, Big Story

Every so often my brother buys us matching cookbooks, and we cook our way through them together. This summer he gave me That Sounds So Good, which is delightful on its own but a whole lot more fun when you set the pre-cooking mood with a glass of wine and one of Carla Lalli Music’s recipe videos. This lady is incredibly knowledgeable, adept at all manner of kitchen skillz, and a whole lot of fun to watch at work in her kitchen. In fact, she’s become such a part of our family’s dinner process that “Is this a Carla recipe?” is the highest praise my daughters can offer.

What about you? Which treasures did you discover (or rediscover) this year?

5 Lovely Collections of Prayers

I came to faith in a church that emphasized personal experience, where prayer was something instinctive—the more free-form, the better. And there’s something beautiful and true about that. But when I first encountered written prayers, I was struck by how quickly they transformed my own prayers by giving me words for those feelings I couldn’t name or that, when joy or grief submerged me, I couldn’t articulate.

As my daughters grow and we look for ways to help them deepen and mature in their own faith, I find myself reaching for written prayers—not because they teach us The Only Way to Pray, but because they connect us to the Christians who came before us, those who wrote their verses on papyrus or in ink dipped from a pot nearby. These old prayers remind us that the psalmists and writers of long ago wrestled with doubts and praised the Lord with emotions still recognizable to us.

But there are new prayers being written today, too—in a coffee shop, maybe, with a phone buzzing nearby, or on a park bench, as the writer looked out over the water. The means and the language differ, but the things the writers wrestled with rarely change. The conviction of sin; the delight of grace; the blank absence of doubt; the joy of deliverance—all are familiar to us, from the time King David penned his psalms to today.

I love how these collections of prayers set our aim a little higher than we might think to reach on to our own. They draw us out of our own particular worries (though God loves to hear about them, too) and remind us just who it is we’re talking to: the God of all things, the maker of the universe. The God who tends to needs both big and small.

And so, I love a good collection of prayers, whether old or new. Here are a few favorites we’ve gathered over the years that have blessed our family with words when we struggled to find our own and that have inspired us to praise the Lord from the heights as well as the depths.

The Valley of Vision, ed. by Arthur Bennett

This classic book of Puritan prayers was my first introduction to written prayers. These are beautiful, theologically rich prayers that model a deep, stirring, challenging faith, and they cover everything from confessing sin to praising the Lord to preparing for the Sabbath.

Every Moment Holy, by Douglas Kaine McKelvey

These books (both Volumes 1 and 2) encourage us to meet every trial and celebration by drawing near to God. Though they’re meant to be read corporately as liturgies, these work well as private prayers too. I love how specific these prayers are: some deal with small concerns and others (especially in Volume 2) deal with some of the deepest griefs we can face. (Read the full review.)

Into His Presence, by Tim Chester

Into His Presence reads like an updated, more accessible version of Valley of Vision, with prayers drawn from the Puritans and lightly edited so they read a little more like contemporary works. Each chapter deals with a different circumstance (“Prayers of Gratitude,” “Prayers for the Lost,” etc.) and reminds us that the Lord meets us in every season.

Sheltering Mercy, by Ryan Whitaker Smith & Dan Wilt

Sheltering Mercy is a collection of responsive poems written in the wake of Psalms 1-75. These read beautifully as prayers and show us that Scripture is something we can engage with: we can read it, pray it, and write poems by its light. (Read the full review.)

And one late addition, discovered after I photographed the other books. But I just couldn’t leave it off this list!

Jesus Listens: 365 Prayers for Kids, by Sarah Young

Our family is reading Jesus Listens right now and it’s an unexpected pleasure. This collection of prayers includes one for each day of the year, each accompanied by a few verses that connect the prayers to Scripture. The language in this book is so warm and inviting, it deserves (and shall receive!) a full review, but I couldn’t bear to pass over it here.