If you are the parent of a teenager or are a grandparent of a teenager, I encourage you to consider giving them one of these Bibles or books that can have an eternal impact in their life. Just as the Apostle John had “no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth,” (3 John 4) speaking of his spiritual children, if you are a Christian parent I know that you will have no greater joy than to know that your children are walking in the truth of God’s Word. These resources can help. I have written a brief review of two study Bibles for teens and four carefully chosen books.
I simply ask you to consider something before you choose one of these Bibles: think deeply about where your child or grandchild is in his or her walk with the Lord before choosing a new Bible. Which would be the most helpful to him or her?
I have purposefully chosen books that stand alone if a teenager is motivated to read them, but that could also be easily used for parent-teenager discipleship. Any one of these four books would be perfect for planning a time to discuss a chapter after each of you have read it. If you have never done this, start with once a month–for example, if you chose Growing Up Christian, it has twelve chapters, so you could plan to meet with your teen the first Saturday morning of every month for one year. Feel free to comment below if you have ever done something like this with your teenager before!
The ESV Student Study Bible is a great Study Bible for a teenager. I love my own ESV Study Bible, and the difference between a normal Study Bible and a “Student” version is that it explains things more clearly at times for those who have not studied the Bible for as many years. For example, at Genesis 1:26 my ESV Study Bible and the ESV Student Study Bible have essentially the same study note. But the ESV Student Study Bible also has a graphically appealing “Did You Know?” box that explains God’s plural use of “us” in that verse. See a video here that explains the idea behind the ESV Student Study Bible and if you’re thinking of purchasing it check out the different cover color options available. I also recommend The MacArthur Student Bible for the same reasons as above, but it only comes in the NKJV. If your teen is not currently reading and understanding the NKJV well, then I would stick with the ESV (if you have an older teenager, the regular MacArthur Study Bible is available in ESV and has an appealing layout with excellent study notes).
The book Growing Up Christian by Karl Graustein is the best book I have seen for teenagers who have grown up in the church. Joshua Harris explains, “[the author] wants to see them transformed by Jesus Christ’s finished work on the cross–not merely living off the religion of their dads and moms.” It is easy to read but has great depth and includes questions that you could use for a friendly discipleship discussion with your teen.
Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper is a life-changing book that challenges young people to live solely for the glory of God. He begins by writing, “The Bible says, ‘You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body’ (1 Cor. 6:19-20). I have written this book to help you taste those words as sweet instead of bitter or boring.” I can’t recommend this book more for the teens and twenty-somethings in your life. It was influential in my own call to ministry.
Do Hard Things by Alex & Brett Harris is subtitled, “A teenage rebellion against low expectations.” They assault the “myth of adolescence” by challenging fellow teens to live for God now rather than later. Here is a helpful review of this book by my friend Jesse Johnson. This is the only book recommended here that I have not read yet myself, but it strikes me as being in the same vein as Don’t Waste Your Life but maybe better for younger teens.
Bitesize Theology: an ABC of the Christian Faith by Peter Jeffery is the perfect book for your teen if you know that what they need right now more than a challenge to live fully for Christ, is a better understanding of the basics of God’s Word. I have never seen another book that can explain terms like “justification” and “sanctification” in 3 easy to understand pages. Unless you have a highly motivated teen, this would definitely be one to do together with them (there are also study questions at the end of each chapter) and it would be well worth your time!