Why are Christian-living megaselling author Michael Todd, renowned Bible scholar N.T. Wright, Grammy Award–winning singer-songwriter Granger Smith, and Christian fiction star Sharon Garlough Brown all launching children’s books for the first time? Hint: they’re eager to open the doors to faith for little ones.
Wright, a retired bishop and author of several acclaimed New Testament studies, came up with the idea for God’s Big Picture Storybook Bible (Mar. 2024), featuring 140 stories, according to Tommy Nelson publisher Shannon Marchese. “He’s a grandfather now, and he’s very excited about how we talk to children about God,” Marchese says. “He wants them to see the Bible as a living, breathing story, not a dusty old book.”
Smith’s book emerges from a tragedy—the drowning death of his three-year-old son. His first book for adults, Like a River: Finding the Faith and Strength to Move Forward After Loss and Heartache, (W, out now) jumped immediately onto PW’s nonfiction religion bestsellers list. And he has since turned from his music career to study for ministry. Now, in Up Toward the Light (Tommy Nelson, Mar. 2024), Smith delivers lessons through a conversation between a boy and a tree, about grief, love, and looking forward with joy. Marchese calls Smith a fantastic storyteller. “His book is something unique for Tommy Nelson, in providing an opportunity for a child to process loss,” Marchese says. “It’s meant to appeal to both parents and children about the emotional journey of going on in the face of change.”
When WaterBrook first signed pastor Michael Todd to write Relationship Goals: How to Win at Dating, Marriage, and Sex, which went on to top bestseller lists in 2020, the press simultaneously signed him to write a follow-up version for children, says Campbell Wharton, v-p and deputy publisher for Random House Christian Publishing. “We were very intentional about spacing out his work and adding a family-centered story,” he says. The children’s title, A Cup of Love, (Feb. 2024), uses the principal ideas of the adult title to show children how their parents’ love for God and each other overflows into love for their children.
Once Sharon Garlough Brown, a spiritual director and author of the bestselling Sensible Shoes series and other novels with IVP, saw the launch of IVP Kids in 2021, “She asked us, ‘Hey, what are you looking for? I’m kind of interested,’ ” says IVP executive editor Elissa Schauer. That led to Brown’s first children’s book, Not Finished Yet (May 2024). It imagines the childhood of one of Brown’s leading novel characters, Wren, as she learns how to paint in her grandmother’s studio. In the book, the two characters call their art “painting prayers.” Adult readers familiar with Brown’s novels will see in Not Finished the seeds of Wren’s spiritual future, already knowing she’ll one day address difficult issues with art therapy and prayer.