A Book Review from Books At a Glance
by Kristin Stiles
The Reformation was a turning point in Church History and as such is an important topic to share with your children. Danika Cooley has provided several excellent resources to assist you in doing this. Her Who What Why series covers three very important aspects of the Reformation in these books: Why did the Reformation Happen?; Who was Martin Luther?; and What was the Gutenberg Bible?
In Why did the Reformation Happen? Cooley gives an overview of the history of the time, the important people who were involved, and the reactions of the Roman Catholic Church to these changes. She spends a significant time defining and explaining the five Solas of the Reformation (Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Christ Alone, Scripture Alone, For the Glory of God Alone). She also highlights the important councils that took place and the documents that emerged from them. And finally, she introduces and gives a brief overview of many of the well-known and not-so-well-known reformers.
In Who was Martin Luther? Cooley introduces Martin Luther as a child who was born into a time and place that was ripe for his later arguments against the established church. She explains how many of his early experiences prepared him for his life’s work. Throughout the book, she inserts sections that explain specific topics such as Feudalism, the Black Death, Purgatory & Indulgences, and Bible Translations. These brief sections add a lot to the understanding of the times.
In What was the Gutenberg Bible? Cooley takes us on a journey through history to learn how the Bible was transmitted prior to the printing press and how the printing press came to be. She looks at the contributions made by many people in many countries that made a mass-produced book possible. She then details the difficulties that Johann Gutenberg faced in trying to print a Bible in movable type. She finally ends with a discussion of how God used this man and his invention to change history and eventually bring the Bible into the language and hands of everyday people around the world.
Each of these books is very well written. Cooley goes into a great deal of depth and uses a lot of vocabulary that is probably unfamiliar to her audience, but she explains everything very well. She has a wonderful writing style that would appeal to young readers. There is a wealth of information in this series that would make it ideal for children and students who are learning about the Reformation. Parents or teachers would be encouraged to go through these books with them at a slow rate to make sure they are processing all of the information. These could also be utilized as introductory books that would stimulate interest in a more in-depth study of any of the specific topics that are presented.
I do have two criticisms of this series, however. First, the cover art on these books is not appealing. I don’t think that the simplistic, almost childish drawings convey the caliber of information that is inside. On the other hand, the black and white illustrations inside are very well done and add much to the text. Second, the brief sections that I mentioned above are not set off with any different text or borders indicating that they are a deviation from the storyline. They only have a new heading that is similar to the chapter titles. There were times when I felt a slight whiplash from going along the narrative to suddenly reading about “The Medieval Roman Catholic Church.” If these books are re-printed in the future, those are issues that, if remedied, would do a great service to these fine texts.
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
WHO WHAT WHY, by Danika Cooley