Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I Can Read God's Word

I Can Read God's Word combines phonetic learning for Level 1 readers with solid Bible foundation. Written and illustrated by Phil A. Smouse, the book couples full-page illustrations with "key Bible phrases specially paraphrased for early readers" to a text that appeals to children and their parents.

The book features sixteen familiar passages from both the Old and New Testaments. For each "chapter" an introductory section offers the actual Scripture, quoted in the New King James Version, along with a short devotional. This section also highlights a "big word" (and it's definition) and an explanation of the featured phonetic tools, such as beginning consonants, beginning blends, short vowel sounds, silent letters, ending blends and combination sounds. The following pages provide an easy to read paraphrase with each of these phonetic devices bold-faced and red.

The illustrations are cartoony and cute. Readers follow one particular character, Nicodemus, throughout.

What I Like: It's easy to use. The "note to parents" at the beginning is great. The whole book utilizes large and clear print, perfect for early readers. I like the short devotionals, too. They draw excellent applications from the Scriptures given.

What I Dislike: From a biblical perspective: The first two chapters focus on getting what you ask for (Psalm 37:3-4 and Matthew 7:7-8). I felt this emphasized a prosperity gospel and a general self-centeredness. The author does a nice job being specific about the intent of these verses. Still, I can think of many other more important verses to start the book.

From a teacher's perspective: The phonetic lessons show no progression. It's definitely not a book for first-time readers. I recommend it for early readers who already have a good foundation and need a tool for review and to put it all together.

Overall Rating: Upper side of Good.

Age Appeal: 4-7

Publisher Info: Barbour Publishing, 2008; ISBN: 9781602602090; Paperback; $14.95

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Special Info: See our reviews of other books by this author/illustrator.

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