Reformers Recommends: Books for Teenagers

This Reformers Recommends has been revised, updated and expanded. See the new edition in Part 1 and Part 2.

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What I frequently hear from people is “there doesn’t seem to be many good books for teenagers”. At an age where teens are moving from childhood to adulthood, it’s difficult to know what books would be beneficial. Here is my selection of books for teenagers.

One book that may have surprised you on my list is “Concise Theology” by J.I. Packer. This book is a staple for all bookshelves and should most certainly be read by teenagers. It is a systematic theology book that is in small portions of about 2 to 3 pages per topic. It’s full of scripture, reason, explanation… and it’s ‘concise’!

For some church history I chose “Church History 101” (Ferguson, Beeke, Haykin). This book is small, is only 100 pages long and each of the 20 chapters briefly covers a century of history each. As an introduction, this is a great book to introduce young people to the church over the past 2000 years.

Calvin writes this in “A Little Book on the Christian Life” regarding the short work this book is: “… even if a longer work on the subject of the Christian life were worthwhile, I would hesitate to attempt such now, because my purpose in this work is to present doctrine simply and concisely”. This is a small book packed with truth and brimming with passion.

Something more modern, Jaquelle Crowe’s book “This Changes Everything” is direct in its call for teenagers to own their faith and transform their identity to submit to God in all parts of their lives. She wrote it when she was eighteen, and it speaks loudly!

John Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Life” is one of those “new classic” books that needs to be read. As you read the book you can hear Piper’s Minnesotan accent through each page as he gives emphasis of living for God’s glory and not mediocre pursuits of comfort and fleeting passion.

For guys, “Disciplines of a Godly Young Man” by R. Kent Hughes and W. Carey Hughes is a call to be ‘real’ and own their Christian life in a godly manner. It’s a call to maturity, and not the kind of immaturity we still see in tweens (those in their twenties that still have the maturity of a teenager).

Face Time” by Kristen Hatton is a book for girls to talk through identity, covering issues like body image, sex, materialism and more in an age of selfies and social media. With space for reflection and journaling it’s a practical book that calls girls to be identified with their Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

“Set an Example” by Tim Challies is a call to be an example to those older and younger and pursue godliness in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity.

“The Company We Keep” by Jonathan Holmes is directed towards adults, but it has great lessons for young people in considering what biblical friendship is and how to choose (or reconsider) who we are friends with.

Tim Keller’s “The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness” is a call to gospel-humility and freedom from self-pride and self-condemnation. It’s a book calling for balance to be free from self-love and self-hatred.

And finally, “Can I Be Sure I'm Saved” by R. C. Sproul from the Crucial Questions booklet series. This booklet is about assurance: false, true and where it comes from.

I hope this helps you as parents, aunts, uncles, youth leaders, church leaders and friends - or even if you are a teenager yourself - to know there are great things available to foster faithfulness, understanding and theological literacy for young people.

You can click here to view all of these books.