I love books. You know I do. In fact, I love books so much that I am starting a homeschool resource library in the back room of my house to justify my book collecting (and because it helps make sense of my urge to collect good books other people sadly discard)! So you know that when an opportunity to try out a book from Christian book distributor, Grace & Truth Books, arose, I was one of the first in line requesting to be able to try out one of their products. There were many worthy choices, from Seven Favorite 19th-Century Children's Stories to Of Knights and Fair Maidens by Jeff and Danielle Myers, but the title that caught my interest was With the Children on Sundays: Through the Eye-Gate and Ear-Gate into the City of Child's-Soul.
This 330 page book has 52 chapters, one for each Sunday of the year. Each story is a self-contained lesson on some point of Biblcal doctrine, yet is fascinating enough that you will not have to worry about your child losing interest. The stories are designed to intrigue your children, yet are meant to explain clearly and simply enough that even your youngest children might understand at least part of the concepts contained therein.
From their site:
"A giant volume, which ranks as one of history's greatest Family Worship books ever composed. A limited number of copies are available of this book, which has been out of print many decades and is currently not being printed by anyone. Filled with many of the most delightful family readings you'll find anywhere, from an author with great skill in presenting Bible truths in a form which grips the eye, holds the mind's attention, and wins the heart of a child for Christ. Many call this the finest book for family worship they have ever used."
Sounds amazing, doesn't it??
We have been using another title offered by Grace & Truth Books as our devotional during the week on and off for a while now. The book Long Story Short is a great way to learn about the Old Testament and see how its major events and stories all point to Christ and God's Plan of Salvation. It is designed to be used for ten minutes a day, five days a week.
With the Children on Sundays by Sylvanus Stall is an excellent option for reading together on either Saturday or Sunday, as while the stories take a little bit longer to get through and discuss, they are completely different from your usual Bible readers...they are stories about people and events outside the pages of the Bible that also point to Christ's plan and His love for us.
Our favorite story so far has been one that eloquently explained to children how God can "find" us, even after death. I know that my kids have asked the question, "But what if there's a fire or an explosion? What about all those people in the Towers at 9-11? How will God find those people?" Kids want to know these things, and while I understand what I know to be true, I am not always an expert at explaining things. This book uses the story of the scientist, Michael Faraday to explain this concept. It tells how if you dropped pure silver into acid, which would break down and completely dissolve the silver, he could pour in the correct chemicals that would cause the silver to gather together in a ball, allowing the acid to be poured off and your pure silver to be regained and collected. That is a picture of how no matter what, God can find your spirit, and bring you to Him in Heaven. WOW! I loved it...and so did my kids.
The follow-up questions helped to make the concepts more clear and allow you to turn the lessons in the book into a full-blown Bible lesson, or you can just work the questions into conversation and keep it casual. Many of the lessons have actual activities worked into the stories that you can do to illustrate the concepts even more clearly, but you always have the option of simply reading the description and picturing it in your mind, if you want to keep your lessons less formal and more like just reading together. You may find that it is your children who want to run around and find the materials, like paper clips, a magnet, a piece of paper, and then do the mentioned demonstration...just because they are interested. How exciting is that?!
Each of the 52 stories contained within this book is exceptional in its craftsmanship and message. The stories are heartfelt and very moral. Some are more adventurous than others, but all are interesting. While instructive, the stories are not what I would consider to be overbearingly preachy or off-putting. You could use them in many settings from your home, to your Sunday School, to a Co-op, or a Bible study group.
Because the stories were written in the 1800's, you can expect the vocabulary to be more challenging than the average book today. Personally, I love that aspect of the book, though some parents of very young children might find it somewhat intimidating. Being an English teacher by pre-homeschooling Mom trade, I am generally the resident dictionary, but keeping a Webster's 1828 dictionary (or other version you might own) on hand for quick look-ups solves the issue either way (though you may find some terminology that is out of date...to me quaint, not irritating).
I have very fond memories of a summer visit to the kids' grandparents' house (when we lived in Florida and it took about 20 hours to go either way) when we listened to Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott. My boys (ages 7 and 13 at the time, Ladybug was under 1) LOVED the story (all the cousins are boys, though the main character is a girl), even though they were yelling, "Stop the tape! What does afflicted mean? What does usurper mean? What does countenance mean?" throughout the tale's reading. This did not reduce their enjoyment of the book any, but it multiplied mine, as I noticed them using their new vocabulary words frequently in the ensuing weeks.
I am thrilled that I now get to add this wholesome and useful new title to our Lifetime of Learning Library, for others to see and appreciate, and then want to purchase their own copy. The truth is, though, I will probably be keeping it in our personal library for a while...at least until we have finished all 52 of the stories! In the meantime, I am recommending that if you are on the market for wholesome titles, ones you can trust to be quality reading for yourself and your family, then head over to Grace & Truth Books and check out what they have to offer. With a name like Grace and Truth Books (three of my favorite words!), how can they go wrong?
If you'd like to check out what others on the Schoolhouse Review Crew have to say about this and other titles from Grace & Truth Books, check out the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog and read some more reviews. Other reviewers will have noted the titles they reviewed under their thumbnail photos.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of With the Children on Sundays for the purposes of completing this review. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own.