Summer Reading: Books for Enjoying Life

book cover thumbnails for summer reading list

We started 100 days of summer at our house today – our plan to embrace the fun of summer and enjoy life while we practice counting too!

One fond memory I have of summer is reading. I’m pretty sure we went to the library every week when I was a kid. I’m also positive that my mom had to set a limit on the number of books I could check out each week! I read in the dogwood tree, on the porch, in my bed, in the car and untold countless other places.

I’m hoping to instill that same love in J. So, we are charting out the 100 books we read together and scouting out fun locations to read them – down by the lake, in a hammock, while picnicking, etc.

And the prize at the end? A new book, of course!

I’d encourage you to read this summer too. Perhaps 100 books is a little ambitious (unless you’re reading children’s books like we are!), but I bet you could finish just one.

  • Carve out some time each day.
  • Take a book on vacation with you.
  • Listen to an audiobook while you exercise or clean.

You’ll be surprised how quickly you finish it!

In case you’re looking for ideas, here are 5 books on my summer reading list and 5 that would work for children.

While I do have some purely recreational reading planned, the list here is in keeping with the goal of this blog – enjoying and embracing life. We do this best when we see God for who He really is, understand our identity in Him and take part in the abundant life He offers.

I’d love to hear what books you’re planning to read this summer or about a unique location you’ve found to read. Leave a comment!

As a reminder, I have an affiliate program with Amazon. Which means that they pay me a small percentage of anything purchased through a link from my site to theirs. The price for you is not affected at all. So, basically, I can earn a small amount by simply doing the work of linking you directly to great products and shortening your shopping time. Win, win!

5 Books on My Summer Reading List

Book Cover for The Lifegiving Parent

The Lifegiving Parent: Giving Your Child a Life Worth Living for Christ

I have been soaking up books by Sally Clarkson for a few months now and cannot get enough. I read the other two books in this series (The Lifegiving Home and The Lifegiving Table) and enjoyed them but am looking most forward to this new release.

Written together with her husband, Clay, the book looks at 8 principles designed to “create a home where your children will experience the living God in your family.”

What I most appreciate about their approach to training children is that they don’t lay out a rigid, specific formula for raising children who love God. They raise the banner of grace and truth and emphasize the importance of shaping the heart of the child. If you’re a parent, you can’t go wrong with this book!

grace for the good girl book cover

Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life

Emily P Freeman is another writer that I stumbled upon recently and have found much wisdom, life, and hope in her words. Since grace is my theme for this year, I figure I can’t go wrong with this author writing on this theme!

This book “invites women to let go of the try-hard life and realize that in Christ we are free to receive from him rather than constantly try to achieve for him.” This is the work God started in my heart a decade ago but the tendrils of performance and achievement are deep and intertwined in every area of life. I’m asking God for this to be a breath of fresh air in my life that continues to uproot old habits and behaviors.

spiritual rhythm book cover

Spiritual Rhythm: Being with Jesus Every Season of Your Soul

Another favorite author! Mark Buchanan is a former pastor, now professor, living in Canada. I’m about 1/3 of the way through this one already and it’s been insightful and given me lots to ponder.

His premise is that just like fruit must go through different seasons in order to produce, our souls were made to move through different seasons too.

Too often we feel the need to live in spring where life is exciting, adventurous and hopeful. Somehow we begin to equate this with living a good Christian life. We often don’t know what to do with the dark season of winter. We become discouraged, not just because of the actual circumstances we’re going through, but because of the state of our souls along the journey.

Mark helps us understand these seasons, gives practical ways to respond and helps us continue abiding with Jesus even if it looks different than what we think it “should.”

year of smalll things book cover

The Year of Small Things: Radical Faith for the Rest of Us

I’m not familiar with this author but am intrigued by the central idea here. I’m learning more and more that God is the God of the mundane and ordinary. Sometimes the smallest things we do are the most important. What if we took a year to focus on all those small things? That’s what this book is about!

Here’s a piece of the description, “This book is Sarah and Erin’s story, told with humor, theological reflection, and practical insight, exploring such practices as simplicity, hospitality, accountability, sustainability, and social justice–but, most of all, discernment. Along the way readers will consider how God might be calling them to embark on their own year of small but radical changes, right where God has planted them.”

12 ways your phone is changing you book cover12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You

I tend to be an all or nothing person but am learning that neither of those options is really wise when it comes to technology in today’s day and age! Books like this help me consider the implications of technology and then evaluate how to best use it in constructive ways.

The first sentence of the description should give us pause, “Do You Control Your Phone—Or Does Your Phone Control You?” Give this book a read to help you use your phone in ways that make much of God and allow wise use of your time.

5 Books for a Child’s Summer Reading List

my first message book cover

My First Message

I’ve wanted this book for a while now (I even wrote about it back in December!) and we finally got it last week. It’s even better than I hoped and we are loving it! Designed for ages 4-8, it’s a daily devotional that uses only Bible text from The Message paraphrase. Each day’s devotional includes beautiful illustrations, questions throughout and a final prayer prompter and activity time.

My just turned 4-year-old is engaged with both the biblical text and the interactive elements. The open-ended questions are causing him to ask his own questions and he can’t wait to do the final activities. So far we’ve watched a sunset and the early night sky, planted seeds and shared stories of making our own good and bad decisions. Before going to bed the other night he prayed, “And thanks for the new book where we can learn about God and do fun things!” Win!

i'd choose you book cover

I’d Choose You

This is a cute picture book for kids between the ages of 3 and 7 or 8 I’d say. It’s a story of a young elephant who has a bad day and feels discouraged by the time he arrives home. His parents help him to see that he will always be chosen by them and by God, even when life itself isn’t so great.

If you’ve read The Blessing by John Trent, this helps to distill those same messages down for kids. Children need to receive the gift of unconditional love and acceptance and this book helps give you as the parent the language to do just that! It also includes a note for parents about blessing your children during their daily lives. (The Kindle version is available for only $1.99!)

good good father book cover

Good Good Father
Chris Tomlin helped to write this book and it parallels the ideas of his hit song “Good Good Father!’ I LOVE this book for the way it uses story to teach deep truths about God.

A young bear goes on a journey to the castle to get the help of the king. He is unsure of himself and confused about who the king really is. By the end he sees that the king is

  • like a warrior, He protects you
  • like a teacher, He helps you learn and grow
  • like a doctor, He makes you feel better
  • like a farmer, He provides the food you need
  • like a musician, He brings you joy
  • like a father, He loves you!

This book is for kids ages 4-8. And they also have a board book for younger kids that includes a simplified, rhyming text!

the circle maker for kids book cover

The Circle Maker for Kids: One Prayer Can Change Everything

I was gifted the book Praying Circles Around the Lives of Your Children and enjoyed it so much I got this version for kids. I think my 4-year-old might be able to take in its truths now but ideally, I would say it’s for elementary age children. I actually think mid to upper elementary students would benefit from it most.

It’s a story of a man who prayed boldly and God answered. It also showcases the joy and delight and celebration that accompanies answers to prayer which I think we so often overlook. The final line of the book is “God honors bold prayers because bold prayers honor God.” Children can be challenged to exercise their child-like faith and pray bold prayers to a God who hears!

tell me the story book cover

Tell Me the Story: A Story for Eternity

I was first introduced to this book when I was in college. I loved it then and re-read it often. Max Lucado does an amazing job at capturing the heart, delight and nature of God in these fictional stories that consider what God might have felt and thought at differing points in time – think creation, fall, resurrection, etc.

7 stories are included together in this book – it’s a GREAT deal on a book! “This first volume in the ‘Tell Me’ series helps prepare children to understand their place in God’s story and hear the voice of their heavenly Father.” These stories are for older kids – upper elementary and tweens, although I think high schoolers would enjoy them too.

Happy Reading!

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