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Find more Top 10 Religion and Spirituality Books for Youth
Most of this year’s top 10 books deal with the difficulties of dealing with God, or his (sometimes supposed) representatives. But there is plenty of joy to be found here as well.
Devoted. By Jennifer Mathieu. 2015. Roaring Brook, $16.99 (9781595439115). Gr. 7–10.
Rachel, one of 10 children, spends her time preparing to be a good wife, yet she has a passion for reading. Her efforts to reconcile her strict, conservative Christian upbringing with the modern secular world make for an exceptionally nuanced treatment of religious choice.
Fell of Dark.
By Patrick Downes. 2015. Philomel, $17.99 (9780399172908). Gr. 9–12.
This slow-burning, enigmatic debut consists of two intertwined, stream-of-consciousness monologues from two equally troubled boys. Downes powerfully explores ideas of God, faith and heaven and hell.
Forbidden. By Kimberley Griffiths Little. 2014. Harper, $17.99 (9780062194978). Gr. 9–12.
Seventeen hundred years before the birth of Jesus, the Abrahamic tribe, believers in one god, wander the desert. The life of Jayden, a young woman, is proscribed until events make her choose between dishonor and freedom. Little portrays a perilous landscape, both external and internal.
The Hired Girl.
By Laura Amy Schlitz. 2014. Candlewick, $17.99 (9780763578180). Gr. 7–10.
In 1911, Joan flees her hardscrabble life and her difficult father to become a hired girl in a Jewish household. In this distinctive, captivating novel, Joan struggles with many things, including religion.
Just for Today.
By Pope John XXIII. Illus. by Bimba Landman. Tr. by Laura Watkinson. 2015. Eerdmans, $16 (9780802854612). Gr. 2–4.
As a boy, Pope John XXIII said he wanted to be good to everyone. As an adult, he left a Decalogue for daily living. Each spread begins “Just for today . . .” and each affirmation invites children to think about their own lives. Illustrated with beautiful, stylized art.
Oskar and the Eight Blessings. By Simon Richard and Tanya Richard. Illus. by Mark Siegel. 2015. Roaring Brook, $17.99 (9781596439498). Gr. 1–3.
Eloquently rendered in art and text, this graphic-novel-style picture book relates the story of young Jewish immigrant Oskar who, after Kristallnacht, is sent to New York, but all he has with him is an address for his aunt.
The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly. By Stephanie Oakes. 2015. Dial, $17.99 (9780803740709). Gr. 9–12.
Minnow lives with the Kevinians, a fanatical doomsday cult that follows the teachings of their demanding prophet, Kevin. Clever, curious Minnow is enchanted by his teachings and wants to find comfort in faith. But her disillusionment with Kevin leads to a truly horrific punishment.
Temple Boys. By Jamie Buxton. 2015. Roaring Brook, $17.99 (9781526720367). Gr. 8–11.
Flea, a street kid, sleeps at the foot of the temple in first-century Jerusalem. When he hears that a magician named Yeshua is coming to speak, he thinks it’s a great pickpocketing opportunity. Then, startling events unfold. A gritty, thought-provoking, and daring novel.
Thank You, God. By J. Bradley Wigger. Illus. by Jago. 2014. Eerdmans, $16.99 (9780802854247). PrS–Gr.2.
This book of gratitude features an interracial family who proceed through their day with much to be thankful for. Each joyful two-page spread begins with the words, “Thank you, God,” and the gorgeous illustrations follow.
Vivian Apple at the End of the World. By Katie Coyle. 2015. Harcourt, $17.99 (9780544349114). Gr. 9–12.
When 3,000 believers disappear during a predicted Rapture, Vivian and her friend, who both have raptured parents, decided to find out the truth. Coyle, in this and the sequel, Vivian Apple Needs a Miracle (2015), writes in a gritty, sometimes confrontational style that’s still infused with humor.
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