Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Child-Friendly Biblical Biographies from Barbour Publishing {A TOS Review}

Thanks to the Homeschool Review Crew we were introduced to some really neat biographies from Barbour Publishing. These Kingdom Files books by Matt Koceich share the lives of people found in the Bible, at a level appropriate for children ages 8-12, perfect for my girls.  

We were thrilled to receive two of these nifty books.

Each 5 1/4 in. x 7 1/2 in., paperback book delves into the character's life in a child-friendly way. These specific books are just two in a series of a half dozen biographies.

The idea behind this series, is that the reader becomes a "reading detective" who is investigating these famous biblical people. As you can see, each of these books focuses on people that children should be familiar with, even with a limited knowledge of the Bible. With these books, children are able to read their stories at a level that helps them to understand the characters more clearly. 

Each book starts with a letter to the "Reading Detective" and explains the different sections of the book. 
  • Fact File- A double page spread that contains key information about the character, such as name, occupation, where they are from, years active, his or her kingdom work, key stats, and a timeline. 
  • Action File- This is the main section of the book which shares the character's story at the child's level, including Bible verses, explanations of difficult concepts, and Clue Boxes to help the reader apply the thoughts. 
  • Power File- Takes the thoughts from the character's story and helps the child apply it to his or her own life in a series of ten "Power Ups." Each one includes an applicable Bible verse to read and memorize.
I think the Fact File at the beginning of the book is really neat. It helps the reader have an understanding of who the character is before digging into the detailed story. 

The Action File is the largest portion of the book (51 pages for Who Was Mary, Mother of Jesus? and 57 pags for Who Was Jonah?). This section is broken into chapters and include line illustrations and a map or two, which help to enhance the story.

Finally, each Power File is 20 pages long, with each "Power Up" taking up a double-page spread.

I let the older girls choose which book they wanted to read, and then, when they were done, I read them to myself. 

Tabitha chose to read Who Was Jonah?.

This story of the "reluctant prophet" is one we are quite familiar with, having read it with our core curriculum last year as we made our way through the Old Testament. It is also a story we had read multiple times using picture books and board books when they were younger. 

The story follows the narrative of the book of Jonah. It starts by explaining that God chose Jonah as a prophet, and explains what a prophet is. We follow Jonah's complete journey, from running away, being swallowed by a huge fish, and repenting while in the fish, to making his way to Nineveh, preaching throughout the city, and being upset that the people repented and God showed them mercy. 

Amelia chose to read Who Was Mary, Mother of Jesus?.

 Of course, we are most definitely aware of who this "courageous teenager" is. Who doesn't know the story of the girl who said "yes" to God and gave birth to Jesus, the Savior?

I appreciate that this biography begins by mentioning the prophecy of Isaiah, showing that the special moment of Jesus being brought into the world was prophesied hundreds of years earlier. We follow Mary, not just from the familiar Christmas story events (the time the angel came to her through the birth of Jesus and the visits from the shepherds and the magi), but through each of the events in the Bible where Mary is mentioned. We take a look at their journey to Egypt and their search for him when he stayed behind in Jerusalem during the Passover. Then when Jesus was an adult, we read about her role at the wedding where Jesus turned water into wine, the time when she came with his siblings to the house where he was preaching, and her sadness during his crucifixion and her hope at his ascension. 

What I really appreciate about these books, is that they explain what was going for the character, looking at the situations surrounding them, and bringing them into perspective. We wonder what the character may have been thinking or feeling at specific points in the story. And I really like that the author doesn't change the biblical account, but enhances it through explanations and details, such as explaining that the water jars mentioned in the account of Jesus turning water to wine would have been used for ritual washing and purification. So the children are reading the biblical account at their level and learning things they wouldn't learn by just reading from the Bible. 

Here is what the girls had to say about the books.

Tabitha said, "I like that it is like you are investigating the person, with files and I like that you get to learn lessons. There are clues to help you remember what the lesson is. I learned to pray hard. God wants you to pray hard."

Amelia said, "The way they try to be very very accurate, like how they the wise men come into a house to meet baby Jesus and gave him gifts, instead of coming into the stable like some people have it."

They are now in the process of reading the book they haven't read yet. They had to wait til I was done taking my turn. 

These are definitely books I would recommend for elementary aged children to learn about people from the Bible. They help to bring the Bible stories into better focus, making them more relevant to a child's everyday life. I will also say, my younger children would probably enjoy sitting through these stories if I were to read them aloud. I just didn't have time during this review period, as we are already reading four books aloud, in addition to school texts. They would be wonderful stories for bedtime storytime, and the Power-Ups are great for a child's individual devotion time.

You can find Barbour Publishing on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

By the way, it may be you recognized the name of the author. That would be because we read and reviewed another book by Matt Koceich around this time last year. He is the author of Imagine . . . The Great Flood. I invite you to check out that review as well.

And don't forget to click on the banner below to see what my fellow Crew Mates had to say about these Kingdom Files books. We all reviewed the same two titles.

Kingdom Files {Barbour Publishing Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

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