Why Your Church Nursery Needs a Library

church nursery library book list

The Lord has been challenging my reading skills and assumptions lately, both humbling and teaching me in the process. I had offered to teach a Sunday School class of two-year-olds, and keeping their interest isn’t easy. I had also been asked to read to the littles in our homeschool group once a week just before lunch time, and it was a disaster. I was reading delightful books, sitting in front of my audience and holding up the book, traditional librarian style, and losing half my audience. My 2yo son was the most active, wandering and disrupting my efforts with noisy vehicles. (After all, he had me and the books at home, but not the toys!)

I needed wisdom, I prayed, and God provided. He is teaching me the value of reading to these little ones, and the skills that help make the experience successful.

Members: we’ve got this as a free printable for you! Check out the Members Printable Page for the link.

read aloud Bible stories

The importance of a church nursery library

If your church nursery is typical, it probably contains a bin, basket, or small shelf containing a few donated copies of cute Noah’s Ark variations (more or less Biblically accurate), dated castoffs from families whose children have outgrown board books, and mediocre dollar store donations.

Is caring for little ones during the worship service merely free babysitting? No, it is an opportunity to remind babies and toddlers of the God who made and loves them, that our chief end is to glorify and enjoy Him forever. Why not invest in books worth reading that will instruct both littles AND volunteers in the truths of God and His grace?

Here are six reasons why you should make sure there are really GOOD books in your church nursery and six suggestions for volunteers to use them:

Why it’s worth the effort to read during the service

any time
  • You might not get through some of these books in a single sitting, but the children will get used to listening. It’s okay if they listen to a page or two and want to go play. God is planting seeds. Don’t expect extraordinary results in the first month.
  • Pull out a book, especially at the end, to distract from hunger and crankiness.
  • Maybe they are read to at home. Maybe not. But lap time hearing about God and looking at pictures helps develop attention spans.
  • Whether the books are Bible stories or doctrine, it should contain child-friendly language. Any volunteer can grab a book. No props or practice are necessary.
  • Reading Truth helps sanctify the service. It’s easy for volunteers to miss this opportunity to nurture Truth in little hearts while we’re chatting with other adults.

How volunteers might take the opportunity

cover image of noah's ark
  • This is not a matter of special nursery worker “training,” just a request from a coordinator. Don’t make it too complicated, just consistent. Maybe post a reminder on the wall?
  • Many of these titles are great for adults to read because of the excellent text and illustrations. Do make sturdier board books available for the children to handle freely, and perhaps set picture books on another shelf for a volunteer to use.
  • Sitting in front of a group and holding up the book traditional storytime style doesn’t work at this age. The kids will go off and find a toy or distract their neighbor. Too many kids? Have several volunteers participate in different corners of the room with a few children cuddled around each. Maybe divide by age or attention abilities? Even the ones who appear least interested and are playing nearby are listening, and they will learn.
  • Read the same book a couple weeks in a row. As attention spans increase, add a second book.
  • You don’t have to read the text on the page! Just talk about the pictures if the littles are still learning to listen. Gauge the interest of your audience.
  • It is the repetition of the same stories that matters most. The children may not be able to articulate what they “learned” in nursery, but their hearts are learning habits. Encourage nursery workers could close with a brief prayer that the Holy Spirit will use His truth in their souls.

What to look for

Look for books that focus on God: creation, redemption, sanctification, His Word, His work, His glory, our dependence on and delight in Him. Worship the Lord in His beauty and Holiness in the midst of blocks and puzzles.

Learning to listen

Here is a starting list of recommendations, and I’ll keep adding to it as I discover suitable titles.

something better coming
  1. Read-Aloud Bible Stories, v. 1-5 (Lindvall) Ideal for littles. Large format, simple language, onomatopoeia. Very nicely done. If you have a small budget, start with these.
  2. The Biggest Story ABC (DeYoung) Yes, it is possible to summarize the gospel in an alphabet book, and to do it very well. Another top priority. See review here.
  3. Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible by Jared Kennedy. See review here.
  4. Noah’s Ark (Peter Spier) A beautifully-illustrated wordless classic that allows a biblically literate reader to tell the story while everyone enjoys the pictures. See review here.
  5. He is Risen and A Savior is Born (Rokus) See reviews here and here. Both of these titles are delightfully simple and brilliantly illustrated with rocks. Yes, rocks.
  6. Psalms of Praise: A Movement Baby Primer and other board book titles (Hitchen) Think about how many postures are used by the Psalmist! Standing, sitting, dancing, walking, jumping…a lovely wiggle break. See review here.
  7. Big Theology for Little Hearts series from Crossway, including Creation, The Church, and The Holy Spirit. See review here.
  8. Daily Grace board books. I think that God Cares How I Feel and The Attributes of God are particularly suitable for church nurseries. Available here.
  9. Good Book Company board books, particularly God’s Very Good Idea, Any Time, Any Place, Any Prayer, and The Awesome Super Fantastic Forever Party. Purchase from the publisher here.
  10. Something Better Coming (Saben). Pay attention to the lily, and encourage repetition of the refrain “There’s something better coming!” Available here and at Westminster Kids. (Remember that members get a discount when they order directly from Megan’s website.)

MEMBERS: You can find this as a free printable on your Member Printable Resources Page!

Related reading from Redeemed Reader:

We are participants in the Amazon LLC affiliate program; purchases you make through affiliate links like the one below may earn us a commission. Read more here.

Stay Up to Date!

Get the information you need to make wise choices about books for your children and teens.

Our weekly newsletter includes our latest reviews, related links from around the web, a featured book list, book trivia, and more. We never sell your information. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Support our writers and help keep Redeemed Reader ad-free by joining the Redeemed Reader Fellowship.

Stay Up to Date!

Get the information you need to make wise choices about books for your children and teens.

Our weekly newsletter includes our latest reviews, related links from around the web, a featured book list, book trivia, and more. We never sell your information. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

FREE Bible Guide!

Get a guide to the Best Bibles for Children and Teens. Perfect for an Easter gift.

Megan Saben

Megan is Associate Editor for Redeemed Reader, and she loves nothing more than discovering Truth and Story in literature. She is the author of Something Better Coming, and is quite particular about which pottery mug is best suited to her favorite hot drinks throughout the day. Megan lives with her husband and five boys in Virginia.

We'd love to hear from you!

Our comments are now limited to our members (both Silver and Golden Key). Members, you just need to log in with your normal log-in credentials!

Not a member yet? You can join the Silver Key ($2.99/month) for a free 2-week trial. Cancel at any time. Find out more about membership here.


  1. Barbara on April 17, 2019 at 6:48 am

    Thank you for this article! As a former pubic library toddler/preschool storyteller, and Christian, I wholeheartedly agree! Thank you for the great book suggestions. I am familiar with most of them but will make this a priority for our church nursery now.

  2. Vivi on April 17, 2019 at 3:03 pm

    Thanks, Megan. I am helping in our church library and thinking of ways to get more people reading and borrowing books. Your article reminds me of a suggestion my co-helper gave, to hand “story time” for the kids. Thanks for the article.

    • Megan Saben on May 5, 2020 at 3:28 pm

      Vivi, story time is a great idea for a church library! What a great way to incorporate those resources.

  3. Lou Hunley on July 6, 2020 at 10:51 am

    Great article! I think starting a church library needs to be an investment. So often the books are just cast offs. Also, a church library could be a great resource for older children and adults.

    Money should be invested in books that aren’t readily accessible at public and school libraries.

    However, I do work for the public library and frequently order Christian books.

    • Megan Saben on July 8, 2020 at 1:56 pm

      Thank you, Lou! I wish our church was large enough for a library, so I have to content myself with stocking the nursery shelves. It’s such a privilege to be a librarian, entrusted with funds and the pleasure of spending it on good things whenever we can.

  4. Risa on October 6, 2022 at 12:56 pm

    Thank you Megan. I resonated with this article deeply. Do you have any recommendations for picture books about going to church and Sunday school?

    • Betsy Farquhar on October 6, 2022 at 4:44 pm

      So glad you enjoyed the article, Risa! We will keep a lookout for books about going to church and Sunday school–none come to mind offhand, but there must be some!

  5. Joni on October 11, 2022 at 4:47 am

    Thank you for this! I would love to see an updated list or is there already one I am missing?

  6. Karen Meyer on February 24, 2023 at 4:10 pm

    Answers in Genesis ministry points out that children get misinformation about Noah’s ark when they see animals spilling out of the ark, as in the Peter Spiers book you recommend. They need to be taught a realistic ark size, one that could hold two of every animal.
    I agree that nurseries need books and quality ones at that. Start them young to love reading.
    Our church has a library that is underutilized, sadly.

    • Megan Saben on February 25, 2023 at 8:07 am

      Thank you for your comment, Karen. Did you read Janie’s review that I linked to the post? I agree that biblical accuracy is a priority. But considering the popular alternatives to the Noah account, I would prefer a beautifully illustrated nearly wordless book that has lots of details too look at and allows the volunteer to tell the story at the child’s level over a version with cartoon illustrations or a lot of text. It is up to the nursery coordinator or the volunteer whether to choose this book or another one.

      I hope your church nursery can develop an appealing collection that will enjoy a lot of use!

  7. Sarah on September 30, 2023 at 4:51 am

    I would add Jesus Saves by Sarah Raju. It is a wonderful read aloud for littles!

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.