(C) Ages 8-10, (D) Ages 10-12, (E) Ages 12-15, (F) Ages 15-18, (G) Ages 16 and up, Booklists, Christian, Middle Grades, Nonfiction, Resources, Teen/Adult, Teen/YA
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10 Favorite Christian Biographies

Heaven: A Family Reunion?

I don’t know what heaven will be like, but I imagine it as one big family reunion at a feast table.

Maybe we’ll be so focused on the Lord himself that the saints who have gone before won’t matter to us.

But maybe, just maybe, we’ll get to meet our ancestors in the faith: people like David, Paul, Augustine, Anselm, Luther, Calvin, Wilberforce, Gladys Aylward, Bonhoeffer, Corrie Ten Boom, Jim Elliot, Amy Carmichael, and so many more!

Meet These Heroes on Earth: Christian Biographies to the Rescue!

While we wait to find out what heaven is like, we can meet these stalwarts of the faith through the pages of their stories. A well written biography of a Christian should give us a well-rounded, nuanced picture of its subject in light of the gospel:

  • Her gifts that the Lord used mightily for his kingdom.
  • His weaknesses that forced him to depend on the Lord.
  • The historical setting through which she lived out her calling.
  • His unique training, perhaps even before he became a Christian, that positioned him perfectly for the Lord’s work.
  • A clear testimony of the gospel and its power.
  • A witness to the Lord’s faithfulness throughout history, particularly in the lives of his people.
  • An exhortation to the reader through the example of this faithful servant of Christ.

You don’t have to read a 1000-page tome to get all of these ideas out of a biography. No, some of the best Christian biographies are beautifully concise accounts that a wide age range can appreciate. The biographies listed below are accessible to teens; many are good reads for kids as young as 8 or 10 as well.

These are my personal favorites, many of which I read in high school (*coughs* more than 2 decades ago) and still remember vividly–do tell me your favorites in the comments!

Favorite Christian Biographies

These are “library builders,” my friends: don’t buy all of them at once, but do consider adding them slowly to your shelves. Read them with your families. And share them with your friends–books are meant to be read, not languishing on shelves!

Titles are listed in rough order of age appropriateness/level of complexity. All titles are linked to amazon {affiliate links}, but feel free to search ThriftBooks and other used sites, too!

Anselm of Canterbury by Simonetta Carr. All of Carr’s Christian Biographies for Young Readers series are similarly excellent, but she does a particularly nice job offering biographies on subjects that other biographers haven’t tackled for children. These are tremendously meaty “picture books,” and are great for kids ages 8 and up (and their parents!).

Lillian Trasher: Greatest Wonder of Egypt by Geoff and Janet Benge. If your children aren’t ready for the story of Amy Carmichael listed below, try this one instead. Trasher cared for numerous orphans, depending on the Lord utterly for her material as well as spiritual resources. Ages 10 and up. For a similar Christian figure, check out a book about George Muller, such as the version by Basil Miller.

The Faithful Spy by John Hendrix. Easily my favorite read this past year, this book is an arresting, informative, and beautifully written account of both Bonhoeffer and the times in which he lived. See our starred review. Ages 10 and up.

Gladys Aylward: The Little Woman by Gladys Aylward and Christine Hunter. Short, concise, and action-packed. Ages 10 and up.

Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot. The classic account of Jim Elliot and his four friends who earnestly desired to be used by God to bring the gospel to the Auca/Waorani Indians and how their wish was granted through their martyrdom. See our starred review. Ages 10 and up.

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom and Elizabeth Sherrill. A must read! This would be a great companion to The Faithful Spy mentioned above. The Young Readers Edition is quite well done and is suitable for ages 10 and up (provided you are ready to discuss the horrors of Nazi concentration camps). Ages 14 and up for the original version.

Fair Sunshine: Character Studies of the Scottish Covenanters by Jock Purves. Still one of the best treatments of the Covenanters! Ages 14 and up.

Joni: An Unforgettable Story by Joni Eareckson Tada. Excellent, all the more so in a society that seeks to avoid suffering at all costs. Ages 14 and up.

God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew. A real-life “thriller” and suspense book as Brother Andrew risks his life to bring Bibles behind the Iron Curtain. Ages 14 and up.

A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael by Elisabeth Elliot. Yet another woman, like Aylward and Trasher, who became mother to countless orphans in a foreign country. Her account is a lovely one. Ages 14 and up.

What are YOUR favorite Christian biographies? Share in the comments!

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3 Comments

  1. Maureen Birkett says

    One of my favorites is Green Leaf in Drought Time by Isobel Kuhn

  2. William MacDonald says

    John Paton who served on the New Hebrides Islands (Vanuatu) in the 1800’s.

    Also, Adoniram Judson who served at Burma.

  3. Michelle Rover says

    Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Diebler Rose… my favorite missionary book!

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