Written by Mike Sheley

This is the time of year where children are coming up with some of the most insane list of things they “just have to have” for Christmas this year.

This can be both fun and frustrating, depending on if you are a parent or grandparent.

However, what if we could flip this around and provide parents with a suggested list of items we wish they would add to the Christmas shopping list, not just to entertain their junior highers for a season, but to help them build a life-long faith?!

I’ll give you my top suggestions.

Pass the ones you like on to the parents in your ministry. (Click on images to get links to each one.)


Jesus-Centered Bible

I just picked up a copy of this a few weeks ago and it is my #1 most recommended resource for any age! At the core, this Bible uses blue text to connect Old Testament passages to Jesus, helping the reader to see how the whole Bible teaches us about Jesus so we can know and follow him!


Bibles for their Apps

I am one of the biggest encouragers and supports of junior highers using their devices in our services and conferences.

However, one of my biggest pet peeves is when a student has a Bible app they don’t know how to use or require wifi to use the Bible.

So, parents need to make sure their junior higher knows how to use their Bible app, which was probably free.

And they need to spend the $10 that most downloadable Bibles cost to add to their app so that the student can truly use it anywhere as their Bible. Recommend to parents which ever translation you use most.

We use New Living Translation and our church uses New International Version.

As a second Bible, I recommend The Message or The Voice.

If parents are looking to add a Bible app for the first time for their junior higher, I recommend Olive Tree’s Bible Study app or Accordance.

journalPaper Journal

This may be one of the strangest and most “old-school” things on my list of favorite things for junior highers.

However, part of faith development is taking time to reflect on the Bible and life. I use this $5 journal with a leather case.

Giving this to a student is not a huge investment, but it can really help them process their faith and the crazy junior high years.

As a bonus, it would make it more powerful and meaningful if the parent wrote a personal note on the first few pages for their child.


Surviving Middle School

Surviving Middle School by Rick Bundschuh is one of my favorite gifts we give as a ministry to junior highers every year.

If you haven’t already given these out, this would be a great book for a parent to get for their 6th or 7th grader.

It’s available both in print and digital versions. Laced with humor, Scripture and great advice from a father-pastor, junior highers will enjoy reading this and checking out Rick’s cartoons, and they just might get some great, practical advice along the way.


99 Thoughts for Junior Highers

Just like the book says, this pocket-sized jewel is full of Biblical truths that have been put into bite-sized pieces. Marko and Brooklyn have both lived in junior high world for a long time and know the students for whom this book was written. This would make a great stocking stuffer!


Capital Kings new album: II

I know, we live in a day and age of streaming music through Spotify and Apple Music. However, you can still purchase albums which helps support artists and makes music easier to access offline.

So, if I could recommend one album for junior highers this year, it is the newest album from Capital Kings simply called “II.”

This dance mix by Christian artists has great lyrics and a fun beat. It will be a hit with both parents and junior highers. (I know because it is one album my junior high son and his high school brother both can agree on and have playing all the time from their room these days.)


The Action Bible

Most junior highers I know love comics and graphic novels.

So a Bible in graphic novel format is a perfect fit! We can’t keep these in stock around here. And when we put some out for students to use during a service, they are almost fought over.

This Bible covers many of the great passages of the Bible in graphic format. And on the pages, it gives the references where students can go to read the rest of the story beyond what is illustrated!

Final Thoughts

As a youth leader, you could easily make these some of your giveaways for your ministry. But getting parents to add these to their shopping list for their junior high children this year for Christmas could have an even bigger impact.

In full disclosure, I do not get paid by any of these companies for promoting their resources nor do I officially represent them in any way.

I’m just a fellow youth pastor passing along some great resources I love for my own junior highers to you so you can pass these along to parents and their junior high kids.


Mike is the Middle School Pastor at Mount Pleasant Christian Church in Greenwood, Indiana, where he oversees their ministries for 5th-8th graders.  He’s been in full-time youth ministry over 15 years with most of that time focused on preteens and junior highers.

Photo by Kate Ter Harr and used under a Creative Commons License from https://flic.kr/p/ipKFcd