Discerning Reader Editorial Review
Reviewed 07/14/2010 by John Bird.
Recommended. Church history primer targeted at children that will also interest parents.
"E is for eggs, elephants, and Jonathan Edwards." How did I miss that when I learned the alphabet? Alas, public education. But now, thanks to The Church History ABCs, a new book by Stephen J. Nichols and Ned Bustard, the breakdown in my education has been corrected.
From Augustine to Zwingli, Nichols and Bustard give children a new way to learn the alphabet, while teaching church history along the way. Each page features a different historical character. The sketches are written in first person, giving the book a more personal tone, and include the most important (or most interesting) details of the subject's life in a fun way: "Hi. Let’s get one thing straight, my name is Hippolytus, not hippopotamus."
Though the book is intended to be a church history primer, it also teaches a few life lessons for the more pragmatic reader. For instance, after Martin Luther mentions his hammering "a piece of paper to the church door at Wittenburg," he gives the following advice: "Now don’t try that at your church. People don’t like that."
Ned Bustard's artwork, a collage of illustrations and photos, will hold the childrens' interest while making mom and dad laugh. John Wesley, for instance, wears a button that says, "Almost Perfect," and Charles Spurgeon stands on a cigar box to deliver his sermon. Lest we miss the significance of the details, there is additional information about each character for parents in the back of the book. We are told there that the Wesley brothers "both believed in perfectionism, or as they put it, 'love perfected,' " and so the button makes sense.
The book is intended for children ages 3 to 6. I happen to have a three year old and a six year old. Other than being interested in the pictures, the younger lost interest, as the information is still too advanced for her. The older, however, seemed very interested and asked a lot of questions, which, of course, is the goal. I suspect that children much older than six would enjoy and benefit from this book; I know that I did. We will use this book often, as it is full of important information that is presented in an enjoyable way, and I am happy to recommend it. Thanks to the authors for applying their knowledge and talent to the important task of teaching children.