Recommended Books on Parenting and Education
The preacher of Ecclesiastes once warned, “The writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body” (12:12). Therefore, we should never neglect the holy writings of the Bible for the merely human writings of men. Not only would it be wrong, it is not even wise. With that said, we encourage every Christian parent to become an expert in the Proverbs, which is God’s example of parental counsel. He is actually speaking to us as sons (Hebrews 12:5). Beyond the Scriptures, other books should be valued either for their biblical insights or for their accurate assessment of current culture—thankfully, some books do both.
For easier identification, hyperlinks are included (if possible) to the original publisher’s site; however, for purchasing, most of these items can be obtained used for a reasonable price through a distributor like Amazon.com.
Lessin, Roy. Spanking: Why? When? How? Rev. ed. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1979, 1982. Obviously this is a book for parents of younger children than high school, but it is so helpful—on a topic sorely needed—that it demands wider circulation. The book is currently out of print, but used copies are available.
Ray, Bruce A. Withhold Not Correction. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing, 1978. Very biblical, this book applies the principles of the Proverbs to parental correction, with explicit examples of how to converse with a disobedient child. Very helpful for younger parents.
Tripp, Tedd. Shepherding a Child’s Heart. Rev. ed. Wapwallopen, PA: Shepherd Press, 1995, 2005. This book has become a standard for biblical parenting, with biblical principles about the nature of human behavior and stages of childhood development. In a sense, the book teaches parents the art of pastoral care in the home.
Callihan, Wes, Douglas Jones, and Douglas Wilson. Classical Education and the Homeschool. Rev. ed. Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2001. Written specifically for homeschooling, this book offers not only a good overview of classical education, but also a strong exhortation for parents to engage in the difficult task of educating their children. Out of all the books listed here, this is the book most recommended for beginners. God used it twenty years ago as the initial seed for what is now Spring Branch Academy. God be praised!
Dabney, R. L. On Secular Education. Ed. Douglas Wilson. Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 1996. The author was a Southern Presbyterian theologian in the 1800s, who accurately saw that the transfer of education from the Church to the State could only mean one thing in a land like America—a purely secular education. The logic of American politics demanded such an outcome. Living today with the fruit of such seed, why should any Christian remain optimistic about the ability of a public school to educate children? Please note: This book has been updated into modern English and is available in eBook form or in audio.
Gaebelein, Frank E. The Pattern of God’s Truth: Problems of Integration in Christian Education. Chicago: Moody, 1968 . In the early 1950s, Gaebelein chaired the National Association of Evangelical’s research into Christian education. This book presents the insights he gained into the problem of integrating secular topics with biblical understanding. After half a century, it still remains an important book on all truth being God’s truth.
Gregory, John Milton. The Seven Laws of Teaching. Reprint, [Lancaster, PA]: Veritas Press, 2004 . This book is a must-read for educators. In straight-forward wisdom, so in line with the educational philosophy of the book of Proverbs, Gregory discusses laws on teaching, the teacher, the learner, the language, the lesson, and both the teaching and learning processes. Every teacher at the academy reads this book before teaching.
Harris, Gregg. The Christian Home School. Rev. ed. Gresham, OR: Noble Publishing Associates, 1988, 1995. This book is the equivalent of Wilson’s book on the classical school, in that it first discusses the problems of modern education before presenting an alternative. In contrast to Wilson, Harris presents a model for a Christian home school through high school. Due to its philosophical approach and popular presentation, especially in the idea of delight-directed study, it is a great introduction to the potential of homeschooling. (Please be aware that this book is out of print, so used copies of the revised edition may be expensive.)
Lewis, C. S. The Abolition of Man, or Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools. Reprint, New York: HarperCollins, HarperOne, n.d. [1944, 1947]. In this short but critical book, Lewis discusses the fundamental problem with modern education—the denial of objective glory in the created things of God. Instead of training children to see value statements as mere expressions of personal perspective, educators should recognize the objective value of certain things and train children to appreciate those things and to assess the statements of others as true or false on that objective basis. It is a weighty book, well worth the effort to read.
Machen, J. Gresham. Education, Christianity, and the State. Ed. John W. Robbins. Unicoi, TN: The Trinity Foundation, 1987, 1995, 2004. In the 1920s, American government asserted stronger pressure to control education, both on the federal level, in proposing a department of education, and on the state level, in compulsory public education. In the midst of these debates, the author, a renowned Presbyterian scholar of the New Testament, aptly defended the need for liberty in education, in order for the individual to develop as an individual before God. Interesting and insightful.
Veith, Gene Edward, Jr. and Andrew Kern. Classical Education: The Movement Sweeping America. Ed. Brian Phillips. 3rd ed. Washington, D.C.: Capital Research Center, 2015. This small book provides a survey of the historical resurgence of classical development and of its main proponents. Not every classical educator agrees on what counts for classical education, so a guide like this helps a parent to place a school on the map of ideas.
Wilson, Douglas. Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning: An Approach to Distinctively Christian Education. Turning Point Christian Worldview Series. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1991. The author was instrumental in classical education making inroads into the Christian community. Controversial and not always logical, Wilson is nonetheless quite provocative and entertaining. The book starts with a critique of modern education and then argues for a particular kind of classical education, based upon the essay by Dorothy Sayers, “The Lost Tools of Learning,” which is reprinted in the back of the book. (For more information, see this book review.)
Wilson, Douglas, ed. Repairing the Ruins: The Classical and Christian Challenge to Modern Education. Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 1996. This collection of articles comes from many of the staff at Logos School, the pilot school of the Association of Classical and Christian Schools. Each article covers a particular aspect of classical education from a distinctively Christian perspective.