Forthcoming titles from religion and spirituality publishers aim to get families talking about right-to-life messaging, sex trafficking, climate change, houselessness, gender roles, and more.

Paraclete’s Little Spark of Life: A Celebration of Born and Pre-born Human Life by Courtney Siebring (out now) is a rhyming baby-on-the-way book promising “a biblical perspective and Christian worldview regarding when life begins,” according to the publisher. End Game Press offers a title for teens on the dangers of sex trafficking: Offsides by YA author Lori Z. Scott (Oct.). “As Christians,” End Game publisher Hope Bollinger says, “we need to address tough topics and go into dark places.”

Sunbeam, the faith-based books imprint of Bushel & Peck, takes on climate change with God’s Earth Is Something to Fight For (out now), by prolific children’s book author Amy Houts. The publisher calls this title “a Christian, faith-based picture book about why human beings are responsible for fighting climate change and how kids can help.”

Houselessness draws attention in titles such as Not Pop-Pop by English teacher Angela De Groot (WaterBrook, Aug. 2024), in which a little boy has a lesson in empathy when he encounters a man without a home who resembles his grandfather. At IVP Kids, minister and social activist Terence Lester and his daughter, Zion Lester, recall in Zion Learns to See (Mar. 2024) when she was a child and came to realize all people, including those who are unhoused, matter to God.

“Ultimately, we want to offer books that spark meaningful conversations at home,” IVP executive editor Elissa Schauer says. “This is why it has been so important for us to delve into significant topics—grief, anxiety, disappointment, homelessness, diversity, inclusion, etc.—in an honest and child-friendly way.”

One of IVP’s more provocative titles might be Penny Preaches (July 2024), about a little girl who wants to be like her role model, Pastor Sarah, though many Christian denominations don’t allow women in that role. It’s coauthored by a couple, Rob and Amy Dixon. He’s the author of Together in Ministry: Women and Men in Flourishing Partnerships, and she’s a veteran children’s author. “Not all of our books are for everyone,” Schauer says. “One of the messages in Penny Preaches is God gives good gifts to everyone, and every child and every adult should hear this.”

Good gifts to all, yes, but not all the same gifts, in the view of Southern Baptist publishing house B&H. It highlights men and women’s different roles and gifts in God’s Go Togethers (Apr. 2024) by pastor Sam Allberry. Two children playing on the beach illustrate the view that, “much like how God made the land and the sea to go together, God made men and women to go together too... as a special pair to complement each other in marriage and beyond,” according to the publisher. Similarly, Harvest House celebrates the “specialness of boys” in Build (Mar. 2024), by author and artist Emily Lex. Girls, in turn, will find tips on creating friendships that affirm their faith and self-esteem in Harvest House’s Let’s Be Friends (Oct.), by Blythe Daniel and her 12-year-old daughter, Calyn.

God Made You, My Darling Boy (Ambassador International, Nov.) is by Kelsie Detweiler, a homeschooling mom who says she wants people to think biblically when it comes to cultural issues. Katie Cruice Smith, a senior editor for Ambassador, says she looks for books like this because she is worried about “people pushing their agenda about what a boy or girl is, who try to make children who are just playing at being a knight or a princess mean something it doesn’t really mean.” She adds, “Christian parents are seeking books that affirm that children are wonderfully made as they are.”

On the other hand, Naomi Krueger, senior acquisitions editor at Beaming Books, is worried about people who rid libraries and schools of any titles for minors that deal with sexuality and gender identity, including one of Beaming’s 2020 titles for LGBTQ youth, Queerly and Wonderfully Made. “The loud voices making so much negative noise are not representative of most Americans or most Christians,” she says. To her, this means that “there are a lot of kids who are not having access to the full breadth of literature they should be able to see.” She is watching the reception of The Kid with Big Big Ideas by Methodist pastor Britney Winn Lee (out now). It features a nonbinary youngster, who uses the pronouns they and them, with ideas for a better world. “So far, we haven’t heard a peep,” Krueger says.