Kids Need Stories

Several years ago, I read an impactful booked called “Playing for Keeps,” by Reggie Joiner and Kristen Ivy. It has significantly influenced how I parent as well as how I lead programs for the next generation at my church. The premise of this book states that kids (all kids) need six specific things over time. I’m sure there could be more, but “Playing for Keeps” created a helpful list of six. Here’s what they are:

  • Love
  • Words
  • Work
  • Tribes
  • Fun
  • Stories

In future articles, I’ll unpack the different needs, but for this post, let’s talk about stories. All kids need stories over time. What does that mean exactly?

The authors wrote, “Stories over time move us to imagine a world beyond ourselves.”

Stories are really important, and they are not just for kids. Have you ever noticed who Jesus taught some of his most significant truths through parables. Somehow, ideas just make more sense when told through a story.

In light of our current reality, stories can (and should) be a priority. Obviously, we have a lot more time together right now, but with all the changes impacting everyone, the stories we read, the stories we tell and the stories we listen to will help your kids get a bigger perspective. Stories help kids process the bigger world around them. More importantly, stories may help give kids and teenagers a context for a time when things won’t feel strange or scary anymore.

To help, here is a list of 50 books you might read to or with your kids:


Feelings By Aliki

The Hat By Jan Brett

The Little House By Virginia Lee Burton

Stellaluna By Janell Cannon

The Monster At The End Of This Book By Jon Stone

Corduroy (Series) By Don Freeman

Pete The Cat (Series) By Eric Litwin And James Dean

Make Way For Ducklings By Robert Mccloskey

Little Critter (Series) By Mercer Mayer

Curious George By H.A. Rey And Margret Rey

Younger Elementary School

Beforever (Series) By American Girl

Cam Jansen And The Mystery Of The Babe Ruth Baseball By David A. Adler

Fly Guy (Series) By Tedd Arnold

Ivy + Bean (Series) By Annie Barrows

Freckle Juice Fudge-a-mania By Judy Blume

The Family Under The Bridge By Natalie Savage Carlson

Henry Huggins (Series) By Beverly Cleary

The Mouse And The Motorcycle By Beverly Cleary

Mercy Watson (Series) By Kate Dicamillo

The Tale Of Despereaux By Kate Dicamillo

Older Elementary School

The Indian In The Cupboard By Lynn Reid Banks

El Deafo By Cece Bell

Walk Two Moons By Sharon Creech

How To Train Your Dragon (Series) By Cressida Cowell

My Side Of The Mountain By Jean Craighead George

Diary Of A Wimpy Kid (Series) By Jeff Kinney

Anne Of Green Gables (Series) By L. M. Montgomery

Percy Jackson (Series) By Rick Riordan

The Invention Of Hugo Cabret By Brian Selznick

Wonderstruck By Brian Selznick

Junior High School

The True Confessions Of Charlotte Doyle By Avi

Al Capone Does My Shirts (Series) By Gennifer Choldenko

Out Of My Mind By Sharon Draper

Princess Academy (Series) By Shannon Hale

The Outsiders By S.E. Hinton

The Thing About Luck By Cynthia Kadohata

An American Plague: The True And Terrifying Story Of The Yellow Fever Epidemic Of 1793 By Jim Murphy

Eragon (Series) By Christopher Paolini

Jacob Have I Loved By Katherine Paterson

The Hobbit By J.R.R. Tolkien

High School

Uncle Tom’s Cabin By Harriet Beecher Stowe

Girl With A Pearl Earring By Tracy Chevalier

Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass By Frederick Douglass

The Great Gatsby By F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Kite Runner By Khaled Hosseini

A Prayer For Owen Meany By John Irving

The Life Of Pi By Yann Martel

The Lovely Bones By Alice Sebold

The Art Of Racing In The Rain By Garth Stein

The Color Purple By Alice Walker

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