Best Books to Teach Kids Apologetics
I was about to start this post by reminding you all how hard parenting is.
Because it is.
Keeping young humans alive is work, and I’m sure there are days that you’re just glad to have survived.
But I’m not going to do that to you.
Instead, I’ll start this post by confessing that I didn’t know what “apologetics” was for the first 30 years of my life.
And for 10 of those years, I was married to a pastor.
So if you aren’t sure exactly what apologetics is, you are in good company.
According to Wikipedia, apologetics “is the religious discipline of defending religious doctrines through systematic argumentation and discourse.” The word is from Greek and means “speaking in defense.”
So to break it down into a little bit simpler terms, apologetics is the practice of defending what you believe in through conversation.
And while your first thought may be that your kids do not need to know apologetics because they’re kids, give me a minute to try to convince you otherwise.
Here are 3 reasons why your kids need to learn apologetics.
1. The most important thing you will ever do for your kids is to teach them to be Christ-followers.
Sure, they need to be potty trained and learn to brush their teeth but honestly, there are trained monkeys who can do that.
God gave you those kids and the single most important thing you can do for them is to teach them to love God and love others.
Part of loving others well is sharing the gospel with them.
Part of sharing the gospel is being able to defend that belief when met with opposition.
And your child will be met with opposition.
I know we want our kids to be innocent, but there are people, kids even, who will tear holes in their sweet belief so quickly.
We need them to be confident in what they believe because they are knowledgable in the whole truth of what they believe.
We need our children to understand the why of their beliefs so that they are ready to defend it.
2. The world is not the same as it was when you grew up.
When my oldest was in first grade, she came home asking me about same-sex marriage.
And not in some vague this idea just popped into my head because I really like hanging out with my best friend and it would be cool if she and I could get married sort of way.
This was in a kids on the playground were discussing homosexuality sort of way.
And my six-year-old had no idea what to say.
This conversation did not come up when I was in elementary school.
The first time I remember hearing about homosexuality was when I was in high school.
This will not be the case for your kids.
And while you will want to shelter and protect them, they will hear and see things.
My kids are currently homeschooled (despite how much I hate it,) and they still see and hear things.
If they have a solid foundation on their own beliefs and the knowledge that the world is a fallen place filled with sin, these things will not rock their whole world.
These things will fit right into the category you’ve already helped your child to create and they will move forward with this new knowledge pretty well.
3. If not now, when?
I know a lot of parents have really good intentions to teach their kids about apologetics “when they’re older.”
And while we all love the idea of waiting until our kid is ready, I’m just wondering what age that actually is.
Like seriously, if this is your plan, put a number on it right now.
10? 15? 20?
Because if you are delaying teaching them until they are “ready,” you will be waiting for a while.
Possibly their entire childhood.
As I said earlier, as parents, we want to keep our kids little and innocent because that’s our job.
We shelter and protect them.
And the idea of deliberately teaching them that there are people out there who do not believe what we believe and are going to try to convince our precious babies that they’re wrong in their beliefs is scary.
Seriously, it’s scary.
I don’t want some snot-nose brat telling my kids that Jesus isn’t real.
I’ll punch that imaginary kid in the face.
But what about when they’re in junior high and that kid isn’t snot-nosed or imaginary and I’m not there?
If I wait until my child is confronted with theological opposition, then I’m on the defensive.
That’s no way to approach our faith.
I want my kid to be the one with the confident scriptural comeback who is solid on what they believe and why they believe it.
Because I know that my kids will be tested.
Not only because the Bible says that all Christians will be tested, but also because my kids are the pastor’s kids.
“These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” – 1 Peter 1:7
And being pastor’s kids means that they’ll get hit extra hard.
They’re already singled out in a lot of ways, so I know this is coming.
If I know something is coming for them, it is totally wrong to just believe I can protect them from it.
I want to prepare my kids to fight for themselves.
After all, that’s the entire point of parenting right?
We prepare our kids to be independent people who can live life without us.
Gulp and sob.
So how can you teach your kids apologetics?
Here are 8 books that will give you a great foundation.
These books will help you to learn more about apologetics yourself so that you can feel prepared to teach your kids, they will give you a starting point for a conversation, or they’ll provide some text that you can read together.
But here’s the most important thing you can do to teach your children apologetics: simply talk to them.
Talk to them about what y’all believe when they ask and when they don’t ask.
Be the parent that answers every single question honestly – even if the answer is, “I don’t know.”
Don’t run from it.
They will ask tough questions, and it’s okay to say you don’t know but you’ll find out and get back to them.
AND THEN GET BACK TO THEM.
Whatever you do, get back to them.
If you have to hunt down the original Dead Sea scrolls to find the answer for your kid, do it, and then report back to them with your findings.
Showing your children that you think their questions are important enough to go and find an answer and then come back to them to discuss the answer, will mean more to them than you can imagine.
8 Books to Teach Apologetics to Kids
This book, released June of 2019, is like a crash course in apologetics for parents.
Mama Bear Apologetics was written by busy moms for busy moms, and it quickly gets down to the nitty-gritty of how to teach kids to defend their faith.
Author Hillary Morgan Ferrer says, “Blind faith is easy to lose. Faith grounded in evidence is hard to walk away from.”
And while this book covers some really big abstract ideas like postmodernism, moral relativism, and naturalism, it also gives concrete ways to handle each of the subjects at the end of the chapter.
Because while it’s all well and good to learn about these objections, I really need someone to hold my hand and walk me through exactly what I need to do and say when I encounter a belief that is in opposition to mine. Mama Bear Apologetics does just that plus teaches you how to teach your kids to do the same.
Jennifer from HeavenNotHarvard.com summed it up like this, “While MBA [Mama Bear Apologetics] covers just about every main objection to Christianity and explains many contradictory world views, we can teach our kids HOW to think critically using the skills outlined in this book even when confronted with an argument that wasn’t specifically covered because they covered how to discern the message and measure it against truth and logic. We don’t have to leave our brains at the door to be Christians. In fact, we need to use them now more than ever.”
Author Natasha Crain’s book, Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side, gives parents 40 conversations to have with their kids to help them build and maintain a solid faith.
Some of these conversations may come up naturally in your home, but probably not all of them.
This book gives parents a solid framework for how to start these conversations and exactly what to say to help your child take ownership of their faith.
If you’re anything like me, this is a great help.
I’ll often replay conversations I’ve had during the day and think, “Man! I should have said this instead of this.”
This book gives you a guide for how to say the right thing the first time.
Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side is organized into five different conversation topics: Conversations About God, Conversations About Truth and Worldviews, Conversations About Jesus, Conversations About the Bible, and Conversations About Science.
Each section is then broken down into specific talking points like:
How could a good God allow evil and suffering?
If Christianity is true, why are there so many denominations?
What is Intelligent Design?
It also has 10 Tips for Having Deeper Faith Conversations with Your Kids at the end of the book. These are just practical tips for navigating deeper faith conversations with kids because that can be a tricky task.
In a followup to Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side, Natasha Crain writes about 30 more conversations Christian parents should have with their kids.
Like her previous book, this book is broken up into five sections.
The sections are: The Existence of God, Science and God, The Nature of God, Believing in God, and The Difference God Makes.
The chapters are laid out like a curriculum and are easily adaptable to use with kids of any age – from preschool to high school.
And before you think that preschool is way too young to start teaching apologetics to your kids, remember that this is one of the most important things you will ever teach them.
So why not start as young as possible?
A fringe benefit of starting apologetics training very early is that your kids don’t already have opinions formed.
Starting apologetics training with your high schooler who already has opinions and independent thoughts is great, but it’s a very different conversation that teaching your preschooler or elementary-age child who still thinks you are the smartest person they know.
So the Next Generation Will Know is written specifically for adults who are interacting with Generation Z.
According to Wikipedia, Generation Z includes children who were born in the mid-1990s to as late as 2010.
These are kids who are in the generation after Millenials and are true digital natives. So this is not a book to use with kids who are younger than 10.
There are some key differences that adults need to know when working with this age group and teaching them to defend their faith, and this book by Sean McDowell addresses these issues directly.
The book is broken down into two parts: Section 1 – Do You Love Me? and Section 2 – Will You Show Me?
As you could have guessed from the title of the first section, So The Next Generation Will Know is written around the idea that all we do should be done in love. So because we love these kids, we owe it to them to teach them apologetics.
This is a great book for parents and youth workers alike.
It’s written in a conversational tone making it very easy to read and later convey to your students.
We recently bought a study Bible for students and have committed to reading through the entire Bible with our kids. It may take 3 years, it may take 10 years, but we are going to do the whole thing.
And while I love books and devotionals as much as the next book-loving pastor’s wife, there is something to be said for just reading the Bible.
Yes, there are parts you won’t fully understand.
Yes, it is easier to have a companion book walk you through it verse by verse.
But the Bible is the infallible word of God and all the companion books are not.
And while your child may not “get” everything in the Bible without a companion book, it’s okay. They will get used to just reading the Bible for themselves and hopefully learn to love it.
The CSB Apologetics Study Bible for Students is great because it is filled with extra information so that students can have some supporting text while reading the Bible.
It has things like notable quotes from present and past apologetics, challenges and tactics for students to apply to their real-life, personal stories that students can relate to, and fast facts – 25 of the most important apologetics topics broken down into bulleted lists.
This Bible comes in several versions so you’re sure to find one that’s a perfect fit for the student in your life.
Cold-Case Christianity for Kids is the companion book to detective J. Warner Wallace’s bestselling book Cold-Case Christianity.
It is written for kids ages 8-12 and strives to teach kids how to think rather than just telling them what to think.
Detective Wallace shows kids how to test witnesses, examine the evidence, and investigate the case for Christianity themselves. The book has author illustrations and a dedicated website where kids can download extra activities, fill in case notes, and earn a certificate of merit upon completion of the case.
God’s Crime Scene is a companion to Cold-Case Christianity for Kids.
It is written as a narrative rather than an interactive book and follows the main character as he and his friends investigate the evidence of God’s existence.
It is a bit reminiscent of the Adventures in Odyssey books that I loved as a kid.
Compared to most of the other books on this list, this one is definitely not a complete guide to teaching kids apologetics. But it is a great book to let your child read or to read together with your child to start or continue a dialogue about using evidence to support the existence of God.
And honestly, that’s really important too.
It’s awesome to sit down and have a serious discussion about apologetics with your kids.
I really believe that it’s necessary.
But it’s also a bit intimidating and draining.
Being prepared to answer the dozens of questions your children will have is hard work. Actually answering all the questions is even harder.
This book is a great way to keep that conversation going without having to prepare a lesson.
God’s Crime Scene provides a way to work apologetics into everyday life. It shows your kids that learning about God can also happen while reading a fictitious novel.
In this third book from detective Wallace, kid’s learn how to defend their beliefs when confronted with tough questions.
Often young believers have their own questions about Christianity and struggle to find answers.
In this book, Wallace “helps kids develop good investigative skills, so they can navigate tough questions about faith and share what they’ve learned with others.”
The book focuses on finding the owner of a lost puppy and teaches kids to think like detectives while examining clues to find the puppy’s owner and answer questions about their faith in Jesus.
And like the other books in the Case Maker Academy series, kids can go to their dedicated website to print out extra activities and earn a certificate of completion.
Case for Christ for Kids is based on the book Case for Christ written by award-winning legal journalist and former atheist Lee Strobel.
Strobel investigates all the questions that people ask when trying to determine if Jesus really is who the Bible says He is. He uses research and evidence to answer some of the biggest questions people have about Jesus and the Bible.
It’s written in a kid-friendly language that’s logical and easy to understand.
This is a great book for all smart, curious kids who love asking, “but why?”
Strobel answers all the “but why?” questions they can think of and then answers some they’ve never considered like:
“Is Jesus real?”
“How do we know?”
“Was Jesus actually born in a stable?”
“Did he really come back from the dead?”
This is a fantastic book for kids and adults alike.
We all want to raise kids that are salt and light in this world, but that doesn’t happen magically.
As parents, God has entrusted us to teach them about Him and to be ready to defend their belief. The Sadducees and Pharisees were constantly trying to trip Jesus up and make him say something contrary to the Bible.
“Then the Pharisees went out and plotted how to trap Jesus with his words.” – Matthew 22:15
But Jesus was ready because he was Jesus.
Since we aren’t the son of God and we aren’t raising the son of God, we need a little help in knowing and teaching apologetics to our children.
These books do just that.
They give you a starting point to have difficult conversations about things that really matter.
But the most important thing you can do to teach apologetics to your kids is to simply start. Don’t wait until they’re ready or you’re ready because that day may never come.
So take a deep breath, order a book or two, read a chapter, and start talking.
These may be the most important conversations you ever have.
How do you teach apologetics to your kids? Tell us in the comments!
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