Ky and Bill Prevette

Churches & Children




Exploring the Spirituality of Childhood
, by Pottebaum, Gerard (Ed.)(1998) Find on
Book Description: The First National Conference on the Spiritual Life of Children was a conference sponsored by the Human Foundations Institute. This collection of papers from the conference includes several notable scholars in education and religion, as well as discussions that took place during the conference



Precious in His Sight: Childhood and Children in the Bible, by Zuck, Roy (1996) Buy Now from Amazon!
Book Description: Roy Zuck, Senior Professor Emeritus of Bible Exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary, provides perhaps the most extensive summary of biblical content related to children. Virtually every verse in scripture that mentions or alludes to children is included in this volume. While Bible scholars and theologians have been criticized for ignoring children in their work, Zuck corrects this oversight with detailed consideration of what the Bible says about youngsters. More details at:


Growing Up Religious
, by Wuthnow, Robert (1999) Buy Now from Amazon!
 Book Description: A significant retrospective study of American Christians and Jews, documenting important memories and experiences during childhood that continue to shape adults in their daily lives. The emphasis is upon family life and significant relationships during childhood and their influence on faith and understandings of God.
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 A Theology of Children (unpublished)
Author: Sisemore, Timothy (1998)
Dr. Sisemore's manuscript emphasizes a conservative Reformed theology of children. Sisemore concludes that children have both positive qualities reflecting the image of God as well as a bent towards misbehavior and breaking rules. Some of Sisemore's theology is included in his book Of Such is the Kingdom (2000, Christian Focus Publishers), although simplified and shortened for lay readers. 


African-American Children at Church – Buy it Now!
Author: Haight, Wendy (2002)
This is a ethnographic/developmental study of children's socialization and participation in a predominantly African-American church. The work provides strong evidence against the negatively biased assumptions of African-American teachers, and contributes to the understanding of children's experiences and development within a religious community.


Children in Worship: Lessons from Research – Buy it Now!
Author: Morgenthaler, Shirley; Peter Becker; Gary Bertels (1999). 
The Center for the Study of Children's Ethical Development at Concordia University (River Forest, Illinois) initiated a multi-phase study of children's spiritual formation and congregational life in the three largest Lutheran denominations in the United States. Phase one of this research study is represented in the present volume in which one hundred local congregations were studied by a team of researchers. The chapters by Peter Becker were some of his last writings before his untimely death. 

Exploring Children's Spiritual Formation – Buy it Now!
Author: Morgenthaler, Shirley (Ed.) (1999)
This volume edited by Morgenthaler is marked by clarity and precision. Strongly Lutheran in its perspective, most of the conceptual and methodological issues raised are important regardless of denomination or religious orientation of children. Specialists from a wide variety of disciplines participated in two conferences, which produced this book of readings, as well as commentary following each major section provided by Morgenthaler. 


Faith Development in Early Childhood – Buy it Now!
Author: Blazer, Doris (1989)
This book is a compilation of plenary sessions from The 1987 Kanuga National Symposium on Faith Development in Early Childhood, held at the Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville, North Carolina. A wide variety of researchers and practitioners from across the United States attended this conference. The theories of Fowler, Erickson, and Skinner are predominant in these chapters 


 Godly Play – Buy it Now!
Author: Berryman, Jerome (1991)
Berryman's work is a philosophical and methodologically-centered presentation of a model of encouraging children to reflect upon and experience spiritual reality. While at best the "research" reflected in this book can be considered informal in nature, the Godly Play method has been studied more formally by Catherine Stonehouse (see below) and by others. He adapted this approach from the work of Sofia Cavalleti, under whom he studied, and who is also listed below as an informal researcher. 

Handbook of Children's Religious Education – Buy it Now!
Author: Ratcliff, Donald (Ed.)(1992)
Handbook of Children's Religious Education is a thorough and comprehensive treatment of the religious education of children ages six to twelve. 



Handbook of Preschool Religious Education – Buy it Now!
Author: Ratcliff, Donald (Ed.)(1988)
Handbook of Preschool Religious Education is an exhaustive and comprehensive treatment of the entire field of early childhood religious education. 



Joining Children on the Spiritual Journey – Buy it Now!
Author: Stonehouse, Catherine (1998)
Catherine Stonehouse has summarized many different areas of research related to children's spirituality. She includes an introduction to Jerome Berryman's Godly Play approach, on which she has conducted research for several years with both rural Kentucky and urban Toronto children–see her "Knowing God in Childhood" in the Christian Education Journal, Vol. 5NS, No. 2, Fall, 2001.



Psychological Studies on Spiritual and Religious Development: Being Human, the Case of Religion, Volume 2
Reich, K. Helmut; Fritz Oser; W. George Scarlett (Eds.) (1999)
This book is one of a series published by Pabst Science Publishers in Lengerich, Germany, and is published in English but rather difficult to locate, even though a Scottsdale, Arizona outlet is mentioned (the company web page is located at Particularly noteworthy are contributions by Scarlett, Nye, Smoliak, and Oser's recent work on wisdom. 


Religion in Childhood and Adolescence – Buy it Now!
Author: Hyde, Kenneth (1990)
This resource includes more than 500 pages succinctly summarizing approximately 1800 research studies related to children's and adolescents' religious thinking and behavior. Sixty pages of appendices provide extensive detail on methodological and conceptual aspects of the research: "The definition of religion in psychology," "Problems in the measurement of religion," "Dimensions of religion," "Religious orientations," "Religious knowledge and religious understanding," "A new analysis of Goldman's findings," "The cognitive basis of religion," "Metaphor comprehension in childhood," and "Attitude to religion–theoretical considerations." 


Religious Development in Childhood and Adolescence – Buy it Now!
Author: Oser, Fritz; George Scarlett (Eds.)(1991). 
This volume is part of the Jossey-Bass Education Series titled "New Directions for Child Development," which involves quarterly publication of a book on selected topics (this is the Summer, 1991 issue, number 52 in the series). Several major researchers contributed to this volume, coedited by W. George Scarlett who teaches child study at Tufts University in Massachusettes. 


Religious Judgement: A Developmental Approach – Buy it Now!
Author: Oser, Fritz; Paul Gmunder (1991). 
Fritz Oser is at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, and is well-known for his theory of religious judgement. One of the most distinctive aspects of Oser's theory is that it suggests that religious development, and thus children's spirituality, is different from other areas of development in that there is a distinctive mental structure that accounts for spiritual experience. Many prior researchers assumed–explicitly or implicitly–that religious thinking and experience is exactly like all other thought and experience. Note that the British spelling of judgment is used in the title and chapters. 


Religious Thinking from Childhood to Adolescence – Buy it Now!
Author: Goldman, Ronald (1964/1984). 
A classic study of children's religion, this controversial book concentrates upon children's cognitive understandings of religion. While the research is heavily colored by Piagetian theory, and encouraged many religious educators–particularly those in the United Kingdom, but also in many other countries–to take seriously the need to conduct research on children's faith and religion.


Stages of Faith and Religious Development: Implications for Church, Education, and Society – Buy it Now!
Author: Fowler, James; Karl Nipkow; Friedrich Schweitzer (Eds.)(1991)
This valuable resource was originally written in German and published in 1988, then later translated into English with the help of several of the authors and students at Emory University. It includes a cross-section of international authors, yet is not as tied to the broad spectrum of religious development research as some other books listed here. Instead, the focus is on several major theories, critiques of those theories, alternatives to those theories, and applications of theories. 


The Birth of the Living God – Buy it Now!
Author: Rizzuto, Ana-Maria (1979)
This is a classic study cited by many researchers, involving psychoanalytic perspectives of how the concept of God develops in childhood. Heavily influenced by Freudian theory and object relations theory, the research involved a pilot study at Boston State Hospital and clinical research with twenty psychiatric residents at a private hospital.


The Child in Christian Thought – Buy it Now!
Author: Bunge, Marcia (2001)
An outcome of a research initiative associated with the University of Chicago and funded by the Lilly Endowment, "The Child in Christian Thought" was a project directed by Marcia Bunge between 1998 and 2000. The writings that came out of this project addressed the marginalization of children in contemporary theology by encouraging scholars to investigate the theology of children throughout church history. 


The Children's God – Buy it Now!
Author: Heller, David (1986)
The author of this book analyzed children's drawings, letters to God, interviews, and play to form conclusions about their understandings of God. He included an equal number of Catholic, Jewish, Hindu, and Baptist children, 40 total, all Americans from the Ann Arbor, Michigan area. Psychology Today made Heller's research their cover story and he went on to author several additional books on children's religion that were less research oriented. However, some have noted that Heller focused on the family's contribution to children's religious concepts, minimizing the influence of the church and synagogue, as well as the importance of ritual, language, and tradition. 


The Education of the Whole Child – Buy it Now!
Author: Erricker, Clive; Jane Erricker; Danny Sullivan; Cathy Ota; Mandy Fletcher (1997)
This volume, authored primarily by British educators Clive and Jane Erricker, provides an overview of spirituality education that is more secular than religious in nature, but does not preclude the latter. The Errickers are well known for the journal they edit, International Journal of Children's Spirituality, as well as their annual conferences in children's spirituality begun in the summer of 2000 in Chichester, England. This group of relatively informal studies is suggestive of how spirituality education can be used and adapted to specific children in specific contexts. 


The Religious Potential of the Child: 6 to 12 Years Old – Buy it Now!
Author: Cavalletti, Sofia (2002)
This book extends Cavelletti's approach to school-aged children, based upon the methods of religious education suggested by Maria Montesorri. This version of the book was edited by Margaret Brennan and the director of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, Tina Lillig. An update on the research related to this approach was presented by Kathleen Garness in June, 2003 at the Children's Spirituality Conference: Christian Perspectives. 


The Religious Potential of the Child: Experiencing Scripture and Liturgy with Young Children, 2nd edition – Buy it Now!
Author: Cavalletti, Sofia (1992)
Cavalletti's "research"–reflected in the subtitle phrase "description of an experience"–is informal in nature, yet it has impacted later more formal research, as well as a variety of approaches to religious education. These include Jerome Berryman's "Godly Play," Gerard Pottebaum's "The Liturgy of the Word," and the curriculum most directly identified with Cavalletti, "Catechesis of the Good Shepherd." Cavalleti's approach is compared with more traditional approaches to the religious education of children in Tim Gibson's study, "Implications of two approaches to childhood education in the church" in the Christian Education Journal, Volume 5NS, No. 2, Fall, 2001. This ground-breaking book is a slightly revised version of the original The Religious Potential of the Child Published by Paulist Press in 1979/1982.


The Spirit of the Child – Buy it Now!
Author: Hay, David; with Rebecca Nye (1998) 
For many people, this was a ground-breaking research study, conducted by Rebecca Nye as part of her doctoral study, and given a theoretical and philosophical context by David Hay. Rebecca Nye now heads a research program in children's spirituality at Cambridge University, and at the time of the writing David Hay chaired a research group at Oxford University. Many, perhaps most, subsequent research studies made use of their definitions of "spirituality" and the broad perspective of spirituality that encompasses all children everywhere. 


The Spiritual Life of Children – Buy it Now!
Author: Coles, Robert (1990) 
Robert Coles is famous for his excellent work with children, and is perhaps the best-known current American researcher in the area of children's moral development. In his prior research he noticed that children had significant and deep religious experiences and views, and thus he eventually initiated his own research that included children from a number of countries and several religions, including youngsters who had no religious faith. Across nationalities and ethnic groups, as well as across children of various religious faiths–or no faith at all–he found a common spiritual nature that he describes in detail.


Toward Moral and Religious Maturity – Buy it Now!
Author: Brusselmans, Christine (1980)
This compilation was the outcome of a conference at the Abbey of Senanque located in the southern area of France during the summer of 1979. Twenty scholars from the United States, Canada, and Europe discussed their research and considered the implications for education, the results of which are reflected in this book. Many of the contributors were or later became leading scholars in education and religious education.