Friday, December 31, 2010

The Church History ABCs

The Church History ABCs: Augustine and 25 Other Heroes of the Faith was written by Stephen J. Nichols and Ned Bustard.

As the titles clearly indicate, it offers an alphabetical introduction to key players in church history. Each letter and character receives a dedicated page which features a short biographical sketch of his or her life and significant things done.

Featured bios include Ignatius, Martin Luther, Jonathan Edwards and Charles Spurgeon as well as Zacharias Ursinus, Ulrich Zwingli, Queen Jeanne and Lady Jane Grey. The authors took care to keep the text interesting with little quips and details that appeal to younger audiences, like the difference between Hippolytus and a hippopotamus or a hinted sibling rivalry between John and Charles Wesley.

The illustrations (also by Ned Bustard) combine stylistic two-dimensional drawings with photographs. Colors fill the pages. Over-sized letters in white remind readers where they are in their alphabetical journey through the ages.

What I Like: I like the introduction. It beautifully sets up the book by presenting history as a collection of stories and people that are important. History is critical to a well-rounded education; church history is no exception, but too often we see these subjects as stuffy, boring and irrelevant. This book seeks to prove otherwise.

I've not seen a book like this before, one of this content that targets this age group. It's an ambitious task, and the authors did a great job creating an introductory text. I like that the book features the main players in church history, but also some lesser-known people. I also really like the website! There are some very fun, highly educational supplements and activities available there. My kids like the illustrations, the witty comments and the large alphabetical emphasis.

What I Dislike:
There are some draw-backs to it being an alphabetical book. For starters, it offers no chronological time-line within the book. Timelines are critical to an accurate understanding of history and, fortunately, the authors remedy this void with a very cool activity on the book's website ( Secondly, alphabet books are typically geared toward preschoolers; church history, in contrast, is a rather mature topic. Not many six-year-olds (much less three-year-olds) understand martyrdom or reformation. Also, because the content is organized alphabetically,

Also, I don't like that the book is written from first person perspective. This makes it awkward as a read-aloud book. It would be fine if the children read it to themselves, but they really can't within this age group. My daughter is an advanced reader for her age (6-1/2, in first grade), but the vocabulary within this text is far beyond her skill level. The language and content is better suited for older kids. I suggest 6-10.

Overall Rating:
Very Good.

Age Appeal:
3-6, but I suggest 6-10.

Publisher Info:
Crossway, 2010; ISBN: ; Hardback; 32 pages; $15.99

Buy it Now at for $10.87!

Special Info: Visit the book's website for printable activities such as coloring pages, mazes and more. This site is a wonderful supplemental resource to the text!

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