In our home, we’ve found that we best connect with our children around the dinner table. We teach them to share their ideas, dreams, and stories around the dinner table to build those muscles of communication.
We want to reach their hearts while they are little, so they will be in the habit of sharing their lives with us. We are richly blessed by the priceless conversations that happen around our long, white, repurposed farmhouse table.
- Teach our children about the heart of God and the life of Jesus.
- Have meaningful discussions about what is happening in their lives, what they are curious about, and their greatest dreams.
- Connect with their hearts in a way that we hope will prepare them to keep connecting and sharing their hearts as they grow.
- Relate as a family learning more about each person’s interests and favorites through “Family Dinner Games.” You can read more about our Family Dinner Games in this post.
When I initially wrote this post, my husband and I had been parenting for eight years. Now, we’ve been parents for nearly fourteen years and we’ve found a few resources along the way that our family considers a valuable part of our mealtimes.
One of my dreams for families is that parents and children will form meaningful and lasting relationships. I’m in the midst of these family years and I treasure these resources for the way they bring my family together and bond us so deeply. I would love to share them with you, sweet friends.
- Melissa and Doug Family Dinner Box of Questions Our middle child loved leading “Family Dinner Games” when he was a toddler. He asked us our favorite animal more times than I can count. (My children know all about my love for giraffes, I tell you.) We bought these cards for him as a small Christmas gift when he was in preschool. We absolutely love what we learn about each other through these simple coversation cards. I’m grateful for the topics that have been sparked by these cards. If not for these dandies, I wouldn’t know nearly as much about my children and husband. Truly. I wouldn’t think to ask and answer these questions on my own.
2. The Jesus Storybook Bible By: Sally Lloyd Jones Friends, we have several children’s Bibles in our home including most of the popular Bibles. This Bible has been my favorite for teaching my children about the heart of God in a way that reaches the hearts of little ones. The author, Sally Lloyd Jones, points each story throughout the old and New Testament to Jesus in a way that children can easily comprehend. As an elementary-school teacher, I value the clear delivery and age-appropriate writing style of this particular Bible. I also deeply appreciate the theological aspects of this Bible, conveying the truth that Jesus was fully God and fully present from the very beginning and that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Often times, children’s Bible stories cause little ones (and even grown ups) to think of Jesus as a creation of God that first appeared in a manger. We know, however, that the Bible tells us about Jesus as a part of the Holy Trinity from the beginning of Genesis. The Jesus Storybook Bible makes this clear to children. Teaching this from the very beginning seems to be preventing my boys from having to untangle common Biblical misconceptions, making it a bit less complicated to see the heart of God and the Gospel in full. I’m extremely fond of this Bible and love the way it lends to age-appropriate, theological discussions around our dinner table. Every Biblical account in this Bible points to Jesus.
3. Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp This is our family’s Christmas devotional. Similar to the Jesus Storybook Bible, Ann Voskamp’s daily Advent stories give a full picture of the Gospel of Jesus from the Old Testament prophecies to Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. To be completely honest, my husband and I know far more about the lineage of Jesus and the Old Testament from sharing this book with our children year after year after year. As much as I love Christmas traditions, this book’s daily reading at the dinner table may be at the top of my list. I cannot recommend it enough to fellow parents. This book has completely changed the way our family views Christmas. I couldn’t be more thankful for that.
4. Little Visits with God When I first wrote this post six years ago, this resource wasn’t included because I didn’t know it existed. My good friend and mentor, Heidi has raised four children to adulthood who deeply love Jesus. I frequently glean wisdom from her about discipleship in her home when she was raising children. She recommended this resource a few years ago and it quickly became a staple at dinner time. These devotions are perfect for children in elementary school. As a third grade teacher, I can tell you for certain that these devotions are perfect for children around ages 7-9. My oldest boys have grown to be middle schoolers, so we have moved a bit past this stage for dinner time, but this book is still just right for our youngest child in elementary school years. Add it to your repertoire, as well!
5. The Ology: Ancient Truths, Ever New I cannot say enough good things about this book and the accompanying CD. Our children’s choir did a program from the music shortly before the pandemic. We have used the book by Marty Machowski around our dinner table more times than I can count. This book is systematic theology for children. It isn’t watered down, but rather gives deeply scriptural answers to concepts children seek when they are developing relationships with the Lord and learning more about Him at home and at church. If you love the writing of Eugene Peterson and Ann Voskamp, this book may be a good fit for your family. I’m thankful for the Gospel-focused, timeless truths written in language children can learn while also adding to their growing faith vocabulary. This book is perfect for those families teaching children about salvation, justification, redemption, and terms that will be used in their youth and college ministries as they grow.
6. God’s Very Good Idea By: Trillia Newbell This book’s subtitle is “A True Story about God’s Delightfully Different Family,” and just might be what every dinner table in our country needs in our current culture. If I could gift this book to every family from state to state, I certainly would. As a classroom teacher, I read all of the things being published about diversity. Some of those items are good and some of them simply aren’t. This book teaches about God’s unique creations, the image bearers of God. It speaks of humans in such honoring ways and points to God’s unconditional love for His creation on every page. I cannot get enough of this book. It delights in differences and cultures while giving all glory to God, the Creator of people. It’s absolutely beautiful. My library wasn’t carrying this book initially, but I gave them this title (along with a few other Gospel centered books) and they kindly added to this our town/county’s public library in the children’s literature section. I encourage you to recommend this title to your public library, as well. This is a truth that little hearts and older hearts alike need.
May our dinner tables serve as sacred spaces for sharing hearts as we share meals. May we form practices of connection while our children are in our homes. May our family culture and our love for one another be shaped by our love for Jesus.
From my heart to yours,