A Book Review from Books At a Glance
By Kristin Stiles
I seriously have a new favorite category of authors: Christian college professors who write children’s books. These men and women have a depth of biblical understanding that is impressive and also have a talent for simplifying some of the most complex doctrines to make them accessible for young children. I wish books like this had been widely available when my children were young, but I rejoice that there is now a market for these books and such talented authors that can produce them.
Bible History ABCs is a remarkable book. Dr. Nichols begins with A and Adam and progresses all the way through the Bible to Z and Zion. Each letter fits perfectly in the sequential journey through the Old and New Testaments and follows the narrative of why we need a Savior, who that Savior is, and what that Savior has done. Within the text for each letter, Nichols interweaves an abundance of alliterative words: “Paul told Timothy to stand tall during those trials and keep testifying to the truth.” That in itself takes a lot of skill to do for every letter of the alphabet. It makes the text more interesting to read and provides opportunities for the parent to have the child listen or look for the recurring sound/letter. Accompanying the story, there are significantly long passages of scripture in the adjoining column on the page which support and extend the narrative. I love that not only is this book about the Bible, it actually includes much from it!
Ned Bustard’s illustrations are also remarkable. Each page has a blend of simple cartoony drawings that incorporate pictures starting with the key letter and also fine art that relates to the topic. I thought this a little odd until I found a note at the back of the book which stated that these images were from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and encouraged the parents to use the book for a scavenger hunt at the museum or on the Met’s website. That’s brilliant! Not only could the child find the whimsical otter on the O page, but perhaps one day could find Women Picking Olives by Vincent van Gogh at the Met. Homeschooling parents may be especially interested in this art tie-in.
There is so very much packed into these 60 pages. I love the concept, I love how it was thoughtfully carried out, and I love the extension activities that could come from just this one book. The age range that it is listed as geared toward, however, I don’t agree with. The book is marketed toward ages 3-6. I think three is too young for this book. There is a lot of text on each page even if the parent doesn’t read all the scripture. I don’t see a three-year-old being able to attend long enough to get through many pages. I would recommend introducing this at age five but continuing its use well past age six.
Kristin Stiles is a home-school mom, a Sunday School teacher, and helps lead the “Young, Reading, & Reformed” children’s ministry at Reformed Baptist Church of Franconia, PA.
Buy the books
BIBLE HISTORY ABCS: GOD'S STORY FROM A TO Z, by Stephen J. Nichols