One way to instill Godly principles in your children is to read them Christian books from an early age. Even babies and toddlers benefit from hearing God's truth on a daily basis, and colorful picture books are a great way to expose them to biblical principles.
As editor of Christian Children's Book Review, I see a lot of books published for children of Christian families. Some are ho-hum at best, but here are a few gems that no family should be without.
Adeline by Kathryn Rathke. In this delightful tale, a little girl who loves Valentine's Day learns a lesson about the ultimate Valentine: God. For kids 4 and up. (Baker Books, 2004)
Bible Animal Friends by Matt Mitter. With vivid illustrations, googly eyed animals, and rhyming text reminiscent of well-loved nursery rhymes, infants, toddlers, and preschoolers will love this volume. This book is a great way to start introducing Bible stories like Balaam and his donkey, the Egyptian plague, how ravens fed Elijah, and more. (Multnomah, 2007)
Big Thoughts for Little Thinkers by Joey Allen. This is actually a series of four books: The Scripture, The Gospel, The Trinity, and The Mission. Here is intelligent talk about what the Bible and specific Christian tenants are, explained in a way that young children (ages 3 to 7) can understand-and enjoy. (New Leaf Press, 2005)
God's Wisdom for Little Girls by Elizabeth George. If you have a girl, one of the key things you can teach her is what a Proverbs 31 woman is. George does an excellent job of explaining this important passage to 5 to 8 year old girls. (Harvest House Publishers, 2000)
I Can Talk with God by Debby Anderson. When it comes time to teach your children how to pray, this book is an excellent tool. The pictures are bright and colorful, and the truths of how to pray (and how God might answer) are told in an engaging, fun way. For kids 2 to 5. (Crossway Books, 2003)
I'd Be Your Hero and I'd Be Your Princess by Kathryn O'Brien. For children 4 to 8 years old, these books (one designed for boys, the other for girls) explain Godly characteristics and how important they are. I'd Be Your Princess won the Gold Medallion Book Award in recognition of excellence in evangelical Christian literature. (Standard, 2004 and 2005)
Little Girl's Bible Storybook and Little Boy's Bible Storybook by Carolyn Larsen are excellent choices for kids 6 to 9. Each tells Bible stories in an appealing fashion, and there are study sections throughout to help kids understand important biblical concepts. Best of all, there are ideas for parents on how to discuss these concepts with their children. (Baker Books, 1998)
Little One, God Made You by Amy Warren Hilliker. I began reading this book to my daughter when she was an infant. Now she's two, and she still loves it! The text is extremely simple and establishes one important fact: God made you and loves you just the way you are. For children 4 and under. (Zonderkidz, 2004)
Little One's Bible Verses by Stephen Elkins is a superb way to introduce even the youngest babies to God's word. With sweet illustrations of children and babies, plus notable quotes from Psalms, this is an excellent first "Bible." (Broadman & Holman, 2003)
Parables Jesus Told by Ella K. Lindvall. In simple words and colorful images, this book retells five parables, ending each with a brief explanation of how to apply the story to real life. The book is designed for 4 to 8 year olds, but many younger children will enjoy it, too. (Moody Publishers, 2000) Sidney and Norman, the Tale of Two Pigs by Phil Vischer. Pigs Sidney and Norman are opposites. One is messy, the other neat. One seems to always succeed, the other never does. Then they both meet God. One pig learns that God loves him just the way he is, while the other learns that God loves everyone...even messy neighbors. (Tommy Nelson, 2006)
The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones is an ideal Bible for kids 4 to 8, detailing 43 stories from Genesis through Revelation. Each story in some way relates to Jesus and who he is, giving children the big picture of what God is all about. The text is engaging, as are the illustrations. (Zonderkidz, 2007)
The Lord is My Shepherd by Hans Wilhem. The greatness of this book is its simplicity. The text of Psalm 23-one of the most beautiful and comforting passages in the Bible-is paraphrased in kid-friendly language that clings closely to a modern translation. This book is another great way to introduce even the youngest children to the Word of God. For babies on up. (Scholastic, 2007)
Wait Until Then by Randy Alcorn. Any parent who wants to explain what happens to us when we die, how to deal with the death of a loved one, and how to cope with serious disappointment will want to read this book with their child. Beautifully written and illustrated, for kids 9 to 12. (Tyndale, 2007)
Will: God's Mighty Warrior by Sheila Walsh. Very few Christian books are targeted specifically to boys, so Will is a welcome addition. For 4 to 8 year olds, this book teaches children about the armor of God in a kid-friendly way. (Thomas Nelson, 2006)
Kristina Seleshanko is the editor of Christian Children's Book Review (http://www.ccbreview.blogspot.com/), which won two Litty Awards in 2007 (Best Christian Litblogger and Best KidLit Litblogger). She's also the author of 16 books.