Bonhoeffer Is Subject of New Children’s Book: It Teaches Kids to Follow 'the Good Shepherd'

Michael Foust | CrosswalkHeadlines Contributor | Updated: Jun 20, 2023
Bonhoeffer Is Subject of New Children’s Book: It Teaches Kids to Follow 'the Good Shepherd'

Bonhoeffer Is Subject of New Children’s Book: It Teaches Kids to Follow 'the Good Shepherd'

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Church history often gets overlooked in the children’s book genre, yet a new series is seeking to change that – beginning with a book on 20th-century hero Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

The book, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: The Teacher Who Became a Spy, is the first in a series from B&H Kids about well-known Christian leaders who stood for righteousness and changed history. Others will include C.S. Lewis and Lottie Moon. The series has been dubbed the “Here I Am!” biography series.

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Author Molly Wilmington says Bonhoeffer is worth studying for children because he “followed the two greatest commandments – to love God and love neighbor.” She wrote The Teacher Who Became a Spy. Marcin Piwowarski illustrated it. It is believed to be the first children’s illustrated book about Bonhoeffer.

“Bonhoeffer spent 12 years of his life under Hitler's rule,” Wilmington told Christian Headlines. From the get-go, he could have his mail read, his house searched, and his phone tapped, she said.

“His life was drastically changed by that. He didn't get to work in the university,” she said. “After a few years, he didn't really get to be a pastor. After a few years, he had to have a secret seminary. And he was even engaged when he died and didn't get to be married or have children. So that sacrifice and following God is an important part of understanding how this world works and our place in it.”

Although the book deals with a difficult subject, it is written with an element of “lightness” and humor, she said. A pet dog – “Shep the sheepdog” – narrates it. The book reveals kid-friendly details about Bonhoeffer’s life, such as his love of jelly and humor.

Wilmington modeled it after another book, George Washington and the General's Dog, which recounts the well-known historical facts of Washington but weaves them together with facts that reveal his human side.

“I researched everything that I could find,” she said. “I sat down with a librarian at Baylor.”

The book is filled with Scripture. It ends with Bonhoeffer leading a worship service in prison. It also includes a secret code.

“This book is really not about him,” she said. “It's about following the Good Shepherd.”

Photo courtesy: ©Abby Glover, B&H Kids, used with permission.


Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist PressChristianity TodayThe Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.



Bonhoeffer Is Subject of New Children’s Book: It Teaches Kids to Follow 'the Good Shepherd'