If you've ever checked out my Sermon Sunday posts, you might realize that from time to time, I post them and require my 14 year old son, Tex, to listen to the sermons over the course of the week. Sometimes he's even previewed them and was the one who recommended the series to me! He has a study on the book of Revelation he is doing, but now and then, he appreciates a break from the book work, and likes how listening to sermons offers a change of pace...without sacrificing that important Bible time each day. I have enjoyed listening to sermons online or on tape/cd for years now. Some of my favorite moments are those on a long drive with a new sermon set to dig into!
The Amigos recently started doing a regular Bible time using resources I collected in a few bins (easy reader Bibles, Bible activity books, stories on their level about Bible people or places, character-building stories) and their Time Timer. They set the clock for fifteen minutes and get to choose something out of one of the bins to do. That gives me a bit of time to do my own study. I recently was given the opportunity to review volume 1 of The World's Greatest Stories: The Prophets, a collection of Bible stories read dramatically using the actual Bible text, with added sound effects. After listening to the cd with the kids once completely, I realized that this cd would allow them the same opportunity for "changing it up," that listening to online sermons allows Tex and me.
The Amigos absolutely LOVED listening to the dramatic stories of Elijah, Jonah, Daniel, and Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego many times. They drew pictures of what they were hearing (a habit we are trying to develop in them since they sit with us during church sermons...they can't take notes yet, but they can listen and draw the main idea), and even acted out the stories with toys (or themselves) a time or two. I really think they got something great out of it, don't you?? They interacted with the Bible stories and made each one's message their own. It was wonderful to see. Mr. Saris' readings definitely turned out to be an excellent way to get the Word of God into their hearts. I am adding a few more of his cds to my wish list (I'd especially like to get my hands on The Life of Christ and Defeating Giants, but all six story collections look interesting).
I have rounded up our old cassette sets of Adventures in Odyssey and a few other Bible story favorites to add to the fun and diversify their choices, but truth be told, I am partial to the World's Greatest Stories cds since they are the unchanged (just dramatically read with sound effects) Word of God (ours was in the KJV, though it is available in NIV, too), and what can be better than that? Mr. Saris' motto is "Getting Eternity into the Hearts of the Next Generation" and I think he does an exceptional job of doing just that (and listening to Bible stories sure beats television for occupying free time!).
Some people seem to think that because a child is young, he or she is unable to process the actual text of the Bible (hence all of the children's Bibles you find around, of which we have many, and the prevalence of Children's Church as an alternative to kids attending the regular service in many churches today). But my kids (all except Boo, who, for my sanity's sake, will remain in the nursery until he is three and hopefully calms down a bit!) seem to do fine in the regular service, listening to Bible readings and sermons tailored to adults. They appear to understand quite a bit, judging from the insightful pictures they draw, whenever I remind them to do so. The funny thing is that they all always choose a different main point, just as we adults do when we are listening. Isn't that interesting? Listening to Mr. Saris' readings is an excellent way to help them practice committing their attention to God's Word, don't you think?
I asked the kids what they thought about the World's Greatest Stories: The Prophets cd, and they all said they really liked it and would like to hear more stories. I know I would. I love it when I get as much out of a product as the kids do. I certainly don't mind listening to this one at all. We received a sampler disk, in addition to the full disk of The Prophets, and it made us want more!! So grandparents, aunts and uncles, big brothers and sisters, or anyone else who wants to get something for the kids in your life that will bring them great pleasure and build up their character and Biblical literacy, here's a fantastic, and not terribly expensive gift idea (each cd is just $7.95, which I think is an excellent deal).
You can find some samples of The World's Greatest Stories HERE. I think you will appreciate the resonance and passion of actor George W. Sarris' voice. He is truly talented and brings each story to life. You can view the contents of each of the six story cds HERE (a total of 23 stories), as well as order them from this page. Each recorded presentation is available in cassette or cd format, as well as in either the NIV (New International Version) or KJV (King James Version) of the Bible. We loved the KJV. The additional music and dramatized readings made the words and their meanings very easy for the kids to understand...even for Firefly, who is four. The variations in his voice kept the children attending and engaging with the content. Sometimes he'd throw in some funny voices that would have my kids rolling off their chairs, laughing.
The only thing I'd change is that I'd love to see the story collections offered in a downloadable MP3 bundle for a discounted price at some point...now that one would have me using PayPal right away! We have an MP3 player that Tex won as a door prize last year at a Christmas party, and it is our "school player" on which we put books downloaded from My Audio School. I'd love to add a collection of engaging Bible stories to it. Mr. Sarris...will you please offer this option soon?!
Just in case you are interested (if you love listening to seminars and sermons like I do), Mr. Sarris also has several talks on homeschooling, fatherhood, and using dramatic storytelling to pass on Scripture knowledge available on the site. Each is only $4.95, which I think is a pretty good price. He also has a blog called "Engage the Culture," if you'd like to get to know him better. I loved this post about how to do family devotions titled: Getting Eternity in the Hearts of Our Children. You should read it.
You can read what other members of the Crew thought about the story cds they requested for this review HERE. I did receive a copy of Volume One: The Prophets in order for me to be able to complete this review, but the opinions you have read here reflect our family actual experiences with the product and our feelings about how it worked for us. I hope you will give The World's Greatest Stories a try, too. I think the stories of the Bible ARE the greatest stories in the world, and kids of all ages will enjoy Mr. Saris' tellings of them.