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You’ve Gotta Have Faith: We Need More Children’s Books about Religion and Spirituality

Likely StoriesI noticed something as I was preparing the Spotlight on Religion & Spirituality for the November 15, 2014 issue of Booklist. Just as we need more diverse books, we need more books about religion and spirituality as well. There have been some great ones over the years. I think my favorite remains The War of Jenkin’s Ear (1995) by Michael Morpurgo, which is about how life at a British public school changes—especially for Toby—when a new boy arrives who just may be an incarnation of Jesus. Toby, as the reluctant disciple, mirrors the ecstasy and anguish any one of us would feel at being “chosen.” And David Almond’s terrific oeuvre maintains a spiritual undertone, even when the books aren’t specifically about religion.

Just as we need more diverse books, we need more
books about religion and spirituality as well.

The War of Jenkins' Ear by Michael MorpugoBut books about contemporary kids struggling with their faith are few and far between. This seems odd to me, when religion, faith, and spirituality are flashpoints here in the U.S. and around the world. Why wouldn’t kids be thinking about these subjects both personally and globally? And why aren’t authors writing more about it? I was ready to do a longer blog post about this, but happily, Michael Cart has already made the point in his November 15 column, “Religion and Young Readers.” And here are several more books that do the subject justice, too.

Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel Fatah

Godless, by Pete Hautman

The Path of Names, by Ari-Goelman

Something to Sing About, by C.C. Payne

When Pirates Came to Brooklynby Phyllis Shalant




About the Author:

Ilene Cooper spends most of her day looking at, assigning, and reviewing (some) of the 7,000 children's books that are published each year in her role as contributing editor at Booklist. Follow her on Twitter at @Booklist_Ilene.

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