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New Books on Religion Leave God Out of It

Religion and spirituality publishers are expanding their children’s book lists to appeal to a wider audience by releasing books that celebrate values and virtues, without any mention of God, Jesus, or the Bible. This shift in approach allows these publishers to reach both believers and secular book buyers alike, as they aim to promote children’s social, emotional, and spiritual growth. Examples of these books include Be Your Own Bird by Russ Willms, which focuses on self-confidence and empowerment, and Be My Valenslime by Kris Tarantino, which models patience and generosity. This article explores how publishers are incorporating faith-informed and values-forward titles to cater to the diverse interests of their readers.

Religion and Spirituality Publishers Expanding Children’s Lists

In recent years, religion and spirituality publishers have been making strides to expand their children’s lists, reaching beyond their traditional audience and catering to a broader market. These publishers recognize that there is a growing demand for books that celebrate values and virtues, regardless of religious affiliation. By adding more titles that focus on themes such as self-confidence, self-empowerment, wisdom, and loving-kindness, publishers are ensuring that their books resonate with both believers and secular book buyers.

New Books on Religion Leave God Out of It

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Beaming Books Focuses on Values-Based Titles

One of the publishers at the forefront of this expansion is Beaming Books. With a holistic approach, Beaming Books aims to help children thrive socially, emotionally, and spiritually. According to Naomi Krueger, senior acquisitions editor at Beaming Books, about 60% of the titles to be released in 2023 are values-based. This means that these books prioritize teaching children important values and virtues that can guide them in their everyday lives.

One notable aspect of Beaming Books’ approach is that they emphasize self-confidence and self-empowerment in many of their titles. For example, the upcoming book “Be Your Own Bird” by Russ Willms tells the story of a bird that learns to embrace its uniqueness and not always follow the flock. By instilling the value of self-confidence in children, Beaming Books contributes to their overall personal growth and development.

Random House Christian Publishing Sees Opportunity in Both Faith-Informed and Faith-Forward Books

Random House Christian Publishing, which includes imprints such as Convergent, Multnomah, and WaterBrook, recognizes the value of catering to a diverse audience. Campbell Wharton, vice president and deputy publisher at Random House Christian Publishing, explains that they see opportunities in both faith-informed and faith-forward books.

Faith-informed books are those that align with biblical values without explicitly mentioning religious terminology. These books appeal to readers who are spiritually curious or identify as “nones”—those who do not claim any religious identity. On the other hand, faith-forward books are geared towards the core Christian readership and incorporate religious themes more explicitly.

WaterBrook, a publisher under Random House Christian Publishing, has traditionally focused on faith-forward titles. However, they are now expanding their range to include more faith-informed titles with ecumenical themes. An example of a forthcoming faith-informed title from WaterBrook is “Be My Valenslime” by Kris Tarantino, which showcases the values of patience and generosity through the story of a little monster navigating a chaotic Valentine’s Day party.

Convergent, another imprint under Random House Christian Publishing, leans more towards faith-informed titles that resonate with spiritually curious individuals. One noteworthy book from Convergent is “A Message in the Moon” by Roma Downey, known for her role in the television series Touched by an Angel. This book explores the theme of love and how it connects parents and children, transcending physical boundaries.

Zonderkidz Adds More Titles That Inspire Young Lives

Zonderkidz, a publisher primarily known for its overtly Christian titles, also recognizes the importance of expanding into the general market. While their list still predominantly features Christian books, Zonderkidz has been adding more titles that have a universal message and can resonate with both Christian and non-religious readers.

Megan Dobson, publisher at Zonderkidz, explains that they have been selectively adding titles that inspire young lives and have the potential to do well in both Christian and general markets. One notable upcoming title from Zonderkidz is “Girls of the World: Doing More than Ever Before” by ABC news anchor Linsey Davis. This book focuses on leadership, equality, fairness, and creating a safe world for all children, regardless of their religious background.

Zonderkidz also highlights “Race to Kindness” by Orion Jean, a 12-year-old who was named Time magazine’s 2021 Kid of the Year. This book showcases Jean’s initiatives around book and food drives, promoting kindness and empathy among young readers.

Pen and Sword’s Green Bean Books Focuses on Cultural and Historical Dimensions

Pen and Sword, through its imprint Green Bean Books, takes a unique approach by focusing on Jewish juvenile books with cultural and historical dimensions. Editor Michael Leventhal explains that these books delve into topics such as perseverance, friendship, and family in the face of hardships, hatred, and change.

One notable book from Green Bean Books is “A Boy from Baghdad” by Miriam Halahmy. This tale explores the power of perseverance, friendship, and family as a young boy navigates a challenging environment. By shedding light on Jewish culture and history, Green Bean Books provides young readers with a deeper understanding of different perspectives and experiences.

Shambhala’s Bala Kids Books Emphasize Wisdom and Loving-Kindness

Shambhala is a publisher specializing in Buddhist titles. Through its Bala Kids Books imprint, Shambhala aims to introduce young readers to Buddhist wisdom and the practice of loving-kindness. These books enable children to develop positive qualities such as compassion and empathy from an early age.

One notable book from Bala Kids Books is “Share Your Love” by Susan B. Katz. This book introduces simple phrases that children can repeat, drawing from Buddhist meditation practices. By teaching children to extend well wishes towards themselves and others, Katz encourages the cultivation of a kind and compassionate mindset.

In conclusion, religion and spirituality publishers are expanding their children’s lists to cater to a broader audience. Whether through values-based titles, faith-informed or faith-forward books, or books that explore cultural and historical dimensions, these publishers recognize the importance of providing children with literature that can inspire, teach, and promote personal growth. By diversifying their offerings, these publishers are actively contributing to the enrichment of children’s lives, regardless of religious background or beliefs.