Thanks to the Homeschool Review Crew, we had the opportunity to read an intriguing book which is part detective mystery, part Christian instruction manual. I thought Forensic Faith for Kids from David C Cook, along with Case Makers Academy, sounded like it would be a fun book to share with the children, and it sure has been.
Forensic Faith for Kids is actually the third book in a series of Christian books that help children learn to strengthen their faith while working through a mystery that needs to be solved. Thankfully we didn't need to have read the first two books to be able to enjoy this one. Though I admit, I am really curious about the other books now, and hope to be able to share them with the children in the near future.
This 134-page, paperback book was written by J. Warner Wallace and his wife Susie Wallace. J. Warner Wallace is actually a "cold-case" detective who teaches the reader investigative skills to help solve the mystery presented in the book. He grew up wanting to be a detective, and after he achieved this goal through lots of hard work, he eventually used these skills to investigate the Bible. Thanks to his investigation he realized that Jesus is the Son of God, and now he is helping others learn to do their own investigating with these books.
The authors' first book is called Cold-Case Christianity for Kids. In this book Detective Wallace helps the reader investigate Jesus and the case for Christianity while solving a mystery about a skateboard. The second book is called God's Crime Scene for Kids, and this time Detective Wallace helps the reader investigate creation, proving God is the creator, while solving a mystery about a box discovered in the attic of Jason's grandmother. Jason is one of the kids that is part of the Junior Detective Academy.
Not only are the youths in the book members of this Junior Detective Academy, the reader is as well. What I mean by this, is that the story utilizes the second person point of view, including "you" as a character who joins in with the other kids. Not only is the reader involved in this way, but we can get online, at the Case Makers Academy website, to watch videos for each chapter and work on activity sheets and note sheets for our "Cadet Academy Notebooks."
So, what exactly is Forensic Faith for Kids about?
The story begins at a car wash fundraiser, where a few of our characters, Jason, his friend Daniel and "you," are helping to raise money for the baseball team.
Suddenly a Welsh Pembroke Corgi puppy with the name "Bailey" on her collar appears out of nowhere. After trying unsuccessfully to find her owner, and after talking to Daniel's parents, they decide to bring her along to the police station the next day for their Junior Detective Academy session to see if Detective Jeffries can help them figure out where she came from.
After this preface, we are introduced to some more characters and the "Christian dilemma" aspect of our story. Hannah, who is a member of the Junior Detective Academy, has a friend named Tiana who she talks to at youth group. Tiana is concerned about a boy named Marco who was invited to youth group, but isn't interested in joining in.
She said that he had mentioned that "he's not sure if God exists, but he's certain that Jesus is not God." This has actually caused Tiana to question her faith, as Marco appears to be quite convinced, and seems to have proof.
The kids then present both of these dilemmas to Detective Jeffries when they meet on Monday. This is the beginning of the two investigations, where the junior detectives use the skills the detective teaches them to solve both mysteries. In each chapter Detective Jeffries teaches the kids important information, asks them questions, listens to the clues they have discovered, and helps them work through them. He starts by explaining that they have a duty in both cases. A duty to find the true owner of Bailey, and a duty as Christians to give our reasons for the hope we have in Jesus, as it states in 1 Peter 3:15. I love that he explains the difference between "unreasonable" faith, "blind" faith, and "forensic" faith. In case you were wondering, we, as Christians, have a "forensic" faith, one where there is evidence which helps it to be shared.
The junior detectives usually break into two groups, with half focusing on the Bailey mystery, and the others focusing on proving that Jesus is God. They need to follow leads as they are reminded of such things as not quitting, being thorough, becoming motivated to learn, researching, and not missing evidence that is right in front of them. The "Bailey" group gets to learn a lot about corgis which helps them get past silly myths and focus on facts. The "Bible" group discovers why Marco believes what he believes, and gets help from a pastor to dig into the Bible. They learn to organize their information which helps them to discover details they were missing. In the end they were able to put all the pieces together when the right situation presented itself, and we were able to see how both cases were connected.
Throughout the book there are quite a few "helps" along the way. These are found in the sidebars as well as inserted into the story.
There are Detective Definitions that help the reader to understand certain terms.
CSI Assignments help us look at the Bible for guidance. We are to fill in the blanks and answer questions to apply the verse.
"Tools" for our Detective Bags help us apply the lessons learned.
And there are charts that are used by Detective Jeffries throughout the story that help us understand what he is trying to teach.
In addition to reading the book, we have been using the resources over at the Case Makers Academy website. I have been reading the book aloud to the children at bedtime, which means sometimes it takes us a few days to read one chapter. Though some days I have been able to read the chapter in one sitting. It just depends on how tired I am, or how many children are nodding off. During the day when I start reading the chapter, the children will work on the activity sheet that goes with the chapter.
The day after we finish a chapter the children and I will gather around the computer to watch the video and answer the questions on the Note Sheet.
Detective Wallace will help us to focus on important details and will even give us some behind the scenes info, such as the fact that Bailey in the book is actually based on their corgi.
Then I will read, or have the children read the questions and we will search for the answers in the story. As we work together, this is a bit slow-going seeing as Harold, who is only six, is working along with us. There are some questions where the children need to write out full answers, and others where they fill in the blank.
I appreciate that we get to fill in the charts that we see in the chapter as well.
Once we are finished, we will assemble all the pages into our "Cadet Academy Notebook." The children colored their covers as their first activity page.
There are also "Adult Leader Guides" that can be downloaded to help facilitate the study. We didn't actually use these as I felt the Note Sheets were enough for the children. These pages tell you which chapter to read in both the kids book and the adult version, Forensic Faith: A Homicide Detective Makes the Case for a More Reasonable, Evidential Christian Faith. It then covers Important Concepts that can be found plus questions that can be asked.
What do we think of Forensic Faith for Kids?
Personally, I love the story and how the reader is taught to look at evidence. I really like the way these detective skills can be used in day to day mysteries as well as to strengthen our faith. There are some great skills that the detective and the pastor teach the kids, plus wonderful truths learned. It is amazing to see how we have a "forensic" faith and not an "unreasonable" or "blind" faith as Christians. Jesus gave his disciples the evidence. He didn't expect them to believe him blindly. And we have their eyewitness accounts to help strengthen us in our walk with him.
I also really loved the fun parts of the story, such as the herding of the guinea pigs and a scene in the pet store that turned out quite wild. I also LOVE the way both mysteries ended up being connected. But, I'm not going to spoil that for you.
All-in-all, this is a wonderful book, and a great way to teach your children they have a faith that can be trusted. I highly recommend this book, especially if you have children who are questioning or have friends they are trying to reach out to. It is so important for us to be able to share the truths from the Bible with those who need to hear it. Oh, and if you have kids who like mysteries, they will enjoy this as well.
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Don't forget to click on the banner below to see what my fellow Crew Mates had to say about Forensic Faith for Kids.