Three Children's Books on Psalm 23

I have been re-reading one of my favorite books, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller and recently wrote the first of several posts where I am sharing my favorite insights from the book (read it HERE). Since reading it for the first time in my early twenties (more than ten years ago), I have found a few children's books on Psalm 23 I collected to one day read with my children. Here are three books, each for a different age level, that dig into Psalm 23 in age-appropriate and creative ways. They are wonderful resources for starting a conversation with your child about the Good Shepherd, Jesus.

Found: Psalm 23 by Sally Lloyd-Jones
Recommended Age: Infant to Pre-school
The Jesus Storybook Bible is my favorite children's Bible by a long shot. Sally has a lyrical and down-to-earth way of expressing Biblical truths for young minds that simultaneously engage adults as well. In Found, she uses the text of Psalm 23 from The Jesus Storybook Bible but breaks it up into additional pages with absolutely adorable illustrations by the same illustrator used for The Jesus Storybook Bible, Jago. Each of them are full of light and vibrant color, and match perfectly with the verses. I especially like Sally's translation of the fourth verse: "Inside, my heart is very quiet. As quiet as lying still in soft green grass in a meadow by a little stream." Another thing I love about the illustrations are the clear emotions expressed by the sheep and the Shepherd. The sad, fearful face of a lamb  walking through "the dark, scary, lonely places" of verse five is contrasted with the content, cheerful lamb once he is rescued and resting near the Shepherd a few pages later. Emotions are important for children to explore and discuss even at an early age, so I try to say short comments with my infant son for certain pages, such as "Look how happy the Shepherd is when he is taking care of his sheep!" or "The little lamb looks sad and scared. Let's see if someone will help him." The book ends with one of my favorite ways of expressing God's love: "God's never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love". That is powerful and encouraging for me as an adult but the words are simple enough for a young heart to also understand. While an infant or even a preschooler may not be able to understand or connect the symbolism of Jesus as a Shepherd, this is still a wonderful book to start that conversation and build on it as they grow older.

He Is My Shepherd: The 23rd Psalm for Children by David and Helen Haidle
Recommended Age: Kinder through Grade-School
This picture book has a similar layout as W. Phillip Keller's A Shepherd Looks at Psalms 23 by focusing on one line of the psalm at a time. It starts with "The Lord Is My Shepherd" and explains who the Lord is as the Maker of the Universe. Each line of the psalm is explained in a short paragraph with  easy-to-understand language describing the role of the shepherd and his tender care for his sheep.  There are short prayers of praise attributed to each line. "Thank you, Lord, for who you are and all you have made. Lord, I'm amazed that you know me so well. You even know the number of hairs on my head!" This book was published in 1989, so the illustrations are not consistent with the more modern, vibrant illustrations children are familiar with in more recently published picture books. Instead, they are more neutral and pastel watercolors. I think they are beautiful, classic, and very appropriate for the agrarian landscape of a shepherd tending to his flock. I am impressed with how much detail about the tending of sheep is given in this book and how the authors were able to relate it to the Good Shepherd in a succinct and simple way for children to comprehend.

Note: This book is not in print and can only be found used. It is currently on Amazon and AbeBooks.

A Child's Look at the Twenty-Third Psalm by W. Phillip Keller
Recommended Age: Grade School through Middle School
This one is actually written by the same author as A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23. Years after he wrote the classic, he was asked to translate his insights for younger readers.  Keller does this exceptionally well and expresses them in easy-to-understand language for younger readers without losing the essence of each line in the psalm. It is the longest of the three books listed and reads more like a chapter book, with each line of the psalm taking up one to two pages. There is a simple black-and-white illustration of a more modern shepherd that accompanies each line of the psalm. I must admit, the illustrations aren't very captivating, but the insights presented on each page makes up for that (plus, older children aren't quite as focused or dependent on illustrations). They get the job done by helping the young reader visualize what is written. It is an older book (published in 1981) but the lessons are presented in a timeless way since this psalm can never be outdated. This remains a great resource for older children to dig into the truths of this beloved psalm and a great introduction to deeper conversations on the topic. Sadly, I cannot find it online and it seems it us out of print.


Have you read any of these children's books? Or do you have other books that focus on Psalms 23? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.