Reading Lists to Nurture Wisdom and Understanding in Teens

Happy summer everyone! For every family that is following a traditional school schedule, the summer months with different rhythms and flexible schedules have arrived. We typically take this time to travel, rest, and engage in different activities. For kids and students, it is a chance to take a break from the rigors of school and to enjoy some time off. 

Have you considered how your kids will use their time this summer? Some teenagers will be getting jobs to earn some important money. Others will attend camps, engage in sports and other activities, and most will hope to be able to sleep in a little bit. While this time is welcomed to bring a bit of reprieve and to have some fun, should it be a time that is aimless and carefree? There is no doubt it is a chance to rejuvenate and get ready for another year of learning and activity, but is rest and absence from all responsibility and learning what is best?

For the last few summers, I have sought to redeem some of this time and harness the opportunity for my older daughters to stretch their thinking and understanding toward knowledge and wisdom. I want to utilize this break from the norm to help them think about their faith, their maturity, and to even explore some things in life that they have not yet had the opportunity to do.  The writer of Proverbs tells us the value of wisdom and understanding. He says that those who pursue these things are blessed and that they will receive a reward through them that is far better than silver and gold.

Through the recommendation of others as well as leaning on some resources that have proven monumental in my life, I like to create a summer reading list for my daughters. I have chosen to install this into their summer rhythms as they prepare for sixth grade. There is nothing magic about this and it can be started far earlier for others.

This week I want to share the reading lists I have created for my two oldest (ages 12 and 14) for this summer and to challenge you to find ways to harness the opportunity of your kids’ summer this year. I don’t expect my girls to spend their entire summer reading, but I don’t want to see the summer dominated by texting, TV, sleeping, lounging, or video games. Will they still have time for these things? Yes, but in moderation while helping them to utilize their time with intentionality and to not let laziness and selfish desire become entrenched in their lives. I want to help them pursue wisdom and understanding. We will intentionally schedule reading time into their day. Some books we will discuss together when they are completed (they can give me a summary and tell me some key takeaways that they learned) while a few we will discuss each chapter as they go.

Your kids may not be near the ages of my girls, but I hope this idea and these lists will help to spark intentionality for your kids and students this summer. You also may desire to start something like this at an earlier age with your kids. Do you have other reading suggestions or ways that you are seeking to engage your kids this summer? Hit reply to this email and let me know. Not only am I always looking for ideas with my own kids, but I would love to share others’ great ideas with our entire family of faith. 

Summer Reading List for My 12-Year-Old

  • Do Hard Things – Alex and Brett Harris
  • Kisses From Katie – Katie Davis Majors
  • Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
  • Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World – Bob Goff
  • God’s Smuggler – Brother Andrew
  • The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens – Sean Covey
  • Reason If You Will– Tim Albury

Summer Reading List for My 14-Year-Old

  • Kisses From Katie – Katie Davis Majors
  • Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in and Ordinary World – Bob Goff
  • On Speaking Well: How to Give a Speech with Style, Substance, and Clarity – Peggy Noonan
  • Find Your People: Building Deep Community in a Lonely Word – Jennie Allen
  • Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Chirstian Convictions – Gregory Koukl
  • Through Gates of Splendor – Elisabeth Elliot
  • Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity – Nabeel Qureshi

My wife will also be doing the following Bible studies with the girls:

  • Wake Up – Teen Girls’ Bible Study Book: Stop Hitting Snooze and Start Living Radically for Jesus (14-Year-Old)

A Girl After God’s Own Heart: A Tween Adventure with Jesus (12 and 10-Year-Olds)