Summer Reading Recommendations: Biographies and Autobiographies
Considering that summer sort of began in March this, year, teenagers have been at home a lot more than they usually would be. (How’s that for an understatement?) With all that downtime in mind, Rooted has compiled summer reading lists on biblical studies and the early church fathers to share with your students and their families. We’d like to go a little lighter with this next list: Christian biographies and autobiographies are testimonies to the faithfulness of God and the power of obedience. This list will give your students some new perspectives and new heroes — and you might enjoy reading these yourself!
A good place to start: Twelve Faithful Women: Portraits of Steadfast Endurance by Melissa Kruger. “Be encouraged and challenged by these 12 portraits of faithful women who steadfastly endured many trials—including physical pain, persecution, infertility, loneliness, and oppression—and who, in their various sufferings, found Christ to be an all-sufficient Lord and Savior, steadfast, faithful, and true.” The sources for each chapter will also lead you to individual biographies of these women for further reading.
Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce by John Piper. Wilberforce worked tirelessly to abolish the slave trade; as a leader in Reformed Christianity, John Piper will be the subject of biographies in centuries to come. This one is worth the read both for its subject and its author.
A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael by Elisabeth Elliot. Just like the one above, the author is as fascinating as her subject. Twice-widowed missionary/linguist Elisabeth Elliott was herself inspired by stories of missionary Amy Carmichael, who lived in India and ministered to children for fifty-three years.
John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace by Jonathan Aitken. One steering committee member said: “This book paints such a good picture of history and what life was like during this time. After reading this, you will hear the hymn Amazing Grace in a whole new light. I cried the first time I sang Amazing Grace after reading this biography.” Caveat: might be a hard read for junior high students.
Radical Integrity by Michael Van Dyke. This biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer is not as long or dense as the Eric Metaxis Bonhoeffer, which makes it a better place for teenagers to become acquainted with this important Christian figure. A German pastor who resisted Hitler to the point of death in a concentration camp, Bonhoeffer is an important example of faithfulness to Christ for our kids today.
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand. This one is not specifically a conversion story, but it is a powerful one. The story of Louis Zamperini contains all the action and adventure any young person could home for, but his redemption and perseverance will resonate with teens who follow Christ.
Joni: An Unforgettable Story by Joni Eareckson Tada. Everything about this woman is unforgettable. When a diving accident left this vibrant athlete a paraplegic, she wrestled with God and with thoughts of suicide before embracing her life and ministering to untold thousands. Now she’s a writer, painter, speaker, ministry leader, breast cancer survivor, and wife who has lived a bold and beautiful life while also being wheelchair bound for over fifty years.
Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi and Lee Stroebel. Highly recommended by several members of our steering committee, this autobiography is a rich resource for a teen wants to learn more about their Muslim friends’ faith, and especially how Islam differs from Christianity.
Unveiling Grace: The Story of How We Found Our Way out of the Mormon Church by Lynn Wilder: “A gripping story of how an entire family, deeply enmeshed in Mormonism, found their way out and what they can tell others about their lives as faithful Mormons.”
A Change of Affection: A Gay Man’s Incredible Story of Redemption by Becket Cook. “The powerful, dramatic story of how a successful Hollywood set designer whose identity was deeply rooted in his homosexuality came to be suddenly and utterly transformed by the power of the gospel.” Rooted’s own Davis Lacey interviewed Cook on the podcast earlier this year.
Please see our Rooted Resources- Recommendations for Teens memoir page for further suggestions.