The neatly typed list of books was extensive — a full page with two or three columns of book titles, single-spaced. And I remember feeling overwhelmed when my 9th grade Advanced English teacher, Mrs. Frailey, boldly encouraged me and my classmates to read as many of them as possible during our high school years.
Although I read Jane Eyre and several of the recommendations, I’m not sure how many of those books I officially marked off the list four years later. But two decades later, I do remember the one book on that list that changed my life: The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom.
God used this Christian autobiography to teach me many biblical truths. His glory shines brightly throughout the book, especially as Ms. ten Boom and her sister endure horrific struggles while held in a concentration camp.
After college, I continued reading about Ms. ten Boom’s life in Tramp for the Lord and Jesus is Victor. She is undoubtedly a true hero of the Christian faith, and reading her story can quickly ignite a passion for following Christ.
Pastor John Piper of Desiring God Ministries in Minneapolis says God intends for the true stories of Christian heroes — such as Gladys Alyward, Martin Luther and John Calvin — to not only encourage and strengthen our faith, but also guide and enrich our lives as we consider the outcome of their faith in Christ.
“Reading stories of great men and women combines lots of things that you could do separately,” he says. A Christian biography typically combines theology with the person’s real-life problems, struggles, marriage and family. It allows readers to learn about the person’s whole life — where he came from, what he does in the middle, what he does at the end, and how the Bible and God fit into his life.
“It’s like getting to know somebody,” Piper explains.
What’s more, Piper says the Bible instructs us to watch our leaders and consider the outcome of their faith.
Hebrews 13:7 says, “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.”
“I don’t think it meant only living leaders because Hebrews 11 is all dead guys and gals,” he says. “You look at them and you are inspired.”
Piper concludes that reading Christian biographies is “life-giving, interesting, exciting, faith-building and Christ-honoring.”
So where do you start?
Just in time for Christmas, I’ve compiled this list of Christian biographies — as well as a few biographical DVDs — which offers something for all ages.
Most of these are already part of our family’s homeschool library. We haven’t read every word of all these yet, of course, but I have read enough to confidently recommend what’s here.
I pray that you find these biographies life-giving, faith-building and Christ-honoring as well. Happy reading!
Christian Biographies for All Ages
Hero Tales Volume I, II, III and IV: A Family Treasury of True Stories from the Lives of Christian Heroes by Dave and Neta Jackson (ages 6 to 12)
Missionary Stories with the Millers by Mildred A. Martin (ages 6 and up)
Little Lights Biographies by Catherine Mackenzie (ages 4 to 7)
Light Keepers: Ten Boys Who… by Irene Howat, a Five-Volume Boxed Set (ages 8 to 12)
Light Keepers: Ten Girls Who… by Irene Howat, Five-Volume Boxed Set (ages 8 to 12)
Torchlighters Series (on DVD, ages 8 to 12)
Christian Heroes Then and Now a series of 25 books by Janet and Geoff Benge (ages 10 to 14)