Monday, April 23, 2018

The Radical Book for Kids

The Radical Book for Kids, Champ Thornton

Your child has a birthday coming up and you want to give them a Christian book. But what? They’ve got all the good kid’s bibles, or have grown out of them. They’ve read (or aren’t interested in) biographies for their age group. They’ve exhausted the kids’ fiction section (or the ones you think are ok). They’ve dabbled in some church history, and tried some apologetics for kids. What next?

This new offering by Champ Thornton, may just be what you are looking for. The Radical Book for Kids: Exploring the Roots and Shoots of Faith doesn’t fit any clear category – and as such, it hits a whole lot of them. Overall subject themes include:

  • knowing God
  • history
  • faith questions
  • living like Jesus
  • understanding the bible
  • fun facts, info and skills to learn.

All of them are mixed up throughout 67 chapters, so you might read about how to understand the Bible, then details about some names of God, accounts of men or women who gave their lives for Christ, and then how to make your own sling.

I think the fact that there is no clear order will appeal to numerous children. It will keep them interested as to what’s coming next and they can easily flip around to find things that appeal.

  • For the historian, there are details about ancient weapons, what church was like for the early Christians, and details of men and women who have faithfully served the Lord.
  • For the numbers fan, there are explanations of money in the bible and the length of the journeys in Acts (with a table to figure out how long it took to walk places)
  • For the letters fan, there is an explanation of how the epistles travelled, and details of the Greek and Hebrew alphabets and key words in Latin.
  • For those asking questions about the bible, and the truth of its claims – there is information about the historicity of the bible, the differences between the gospels, and how to understand different writing in the bible. There are chapters about what God is like, and general & special revelation.
  • For those wanting to know how to live for Jesus, chapters address how to make good decisions, how to apply wisdom, what it means to obey your parents as well as acknowledging parents aren’t perfect, and how to read the bible daily and how to pray.
  • And then there are random things like information about jewels and animals in the bible, the meaning of the Jewish holidays, how to memorise things, and how to make a catapult.

You can see how the appeal could be very broad. It’s marketed at children aged 8-14 and I think many in these age brackets will enjoy it and keep returning to re-read sections. The colourful illustrations, diagrams, maps and charts are all engaging and assist the reader in their understanding. It’s also beautifully produced, with highly quality printing and a great embossed cover.

With all the variety on offer, there are bound to be a few things though you disagree with. Mine included:

  • While the explanations of faith, the bible and living for Jesus chapters were mostly excellent, it was the ‘extra’ type stuff that I had most issue with. For example, I could not understand why there was a chapter on how to clean your room. And chapters on things like manners could have been much better applied, rather than reading like a list of rules, it could have been more about how God wants you to live.
  • There were times where the bible verses linked were a real stretch. In particular, the chapter on fun and games in bible times was unwisely referenced, including chariot races in Phil 3:13-14, running races in 1 Cor 9:24, and going on walks in Psalm 23. A stretch at best, and inaccurate hermeneutics at worst.
  • I would have liked to see some suggestions for responsive prayer in numerous chapters, to help the reader learn how to come to God in praise, thanksgiving, confession or request based on the material covered.

What are its particular strengths?

As you can see from the descriptions above, Thornton presents biblical material and matters of faith in a fun, different and digestible way for kids. The approach is based around topics and questions, so it will helpful both for children who know their bibles well, but may not have linked it together thematically; and it will also appeal to those who want more facts and details about the bible accounts, enabling further explanation and a different angle of understanding.

The explanations of faith and the bible are very good. Kids will be drawn in with language that is appropriate to their lives, but doesn’t dumb things down. The challenges of life are recognised. The questions that we all ask are openly acknowledged. Simplistic answers aren’t given, but the reader is given the truth from the words of God.

Add The Radical Books for Kids to your gift list and the kids in your life will likely learn a lot about the bible, find an explanations for questions they didn’t even know they had, and they might just surprise you with some fun facts along the way too.

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