Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Church History ABCs

9781433514722 The Church History ABCs – Augustine and twenty-five other heroes of the Faith
Written by Stephen J. Nichols
Illustrated by Ned Bustard
Published at Crossways

About the book

Dramatically converted on the stormy seas, a slave-trader-turned-abolitionist penned the best-loved hymn of the Christian faith.   A church father was arrested and martyred for teaching the truth about Christ’s incarnation.   Captured by pirates and shipped off to Ireland, a priest baptized thousands of pagans, from paupers to princes.  Now who ever said church history was boring?

The Church History ABCs is a fun way for kids to learn about great figures in Christian history.  Twenty-six heroes of the faith march through the alphabet, boldly telling their stories in language children can understand.   This wide range of characters – men and women from across the centuries, from all over the globe – reflects the breadth of church history and reminds children that these great figures of the past were living, breathing people who lived and died for the glory of God.

Who is Stephen J. Nichols?

Stephen J. Nichols has written twelve books, including Heaven on Earth and The Reformation.  He is a researh professor of Christianity and culture at Lancaster bible College and Graduate School.

Who is Ned Bustard?

Ned Bustard, a graphic artist, has written and illustrated many children’s books, including Ella Sings Jazz, The Story of Sir Galahad, and The Sailing Saint.

My Thoughts

How old should someone be expose to church history?   That is an interesting question.  I believe it should be done as early as possible but up until now there wasn’t a book to help children to grasp the history of Christianity at their own level (or at the very least I am not aware of such a book).    The Church History ABCs is introducing the children to the history of Christianity while going through the 26 letters of the alphabet at the same time.

Honestly I was impressed by the book.   It is quite a large book but the hardcover is so nice to have with many kids in the house.   Hardcover books are sturdier that paperbacks I find.   So I was pleased with the quality of the book.    The colors are very attracting for children and the text is written for them to understand the basic information about these historical figures.

This book not only presents the heroes of the faith throughout history but also gives nouns that start with the letter covered as well.   Part ABC book and part historic book, this book will find a unique place in the bookshelves of homeschoolers.   It is a versatile book as it can be used with kids of different ages.   For older kids you can even ask them to do a research paper on a particular historical person to deepen their learning.   

Here’s an interview with the Illustrator – Ned Bustard.

Why is a children’s book about church history so important?

As we’re both homeschooling dads, obviously we believe that teaching kids is important – our families’ lives are all oriented that way.  Also, our actions as parents create the culture of our families and those elements combine to create our kids’ identities.   Therefore this book helps kids see themselves as part of the family of faith.  And we’re even more convinced of the importance of this book now that it is done and we’ve seen our kids read and interact with the material.

How did you choose which historical figures to include in the book?

Steve started the process on the back of a bulleting one Sunday at church years ago.   After his preliminary list, we discussed between us how to make the choices cover as much church history as possible.  We wanted to paint as rich and diverse a story as church history actually is.   Also, we had some pet favourites – for example our wives are both big fans of Anne Bradstreet and I love anything Irish - so Patrick was a must (sorry Polycarp)!

Who is your favourite person in church history?

Growing up my favourite person in church history was my grandfather.  He was a preacher for forty years and taught for (what is now) Philadelphia Biblical University.  Who I am is shaped in many ways by who he is.  In the book, my favourite is Edwards, because of all Steve has taught me about him through his books and through our discussions about Edwards while I was working on his illustration for this book. 

How do you think this book can benefit a homeschooling family?

First, it is helpful because it can be engaged in so many ways depending on the age of the child.  For very young kids the book can be read quickly by just reading the opening bits (A is for…).  Slightly older children can have the entire page read to them.   Finally, children who are reading on their own can read the book for themselves and read the back matter for a deeper understanding of these historical figures.  Also, there is a list of the people in the book in chronological order to help homeschooling parents weave these stories into their classroom history lessons.   Another way to integrate church history into homeschooling is found on our website ( ): on the activities page parents can download (among other things) handwriting practice pages that go with the book so that penmanship and church history can walk hand in hand.

What did your kids think of the book?

I have three girls so the spiders, daggers, pirates, and such didn’t resonate with them as much as they do with Steve’s boys.  My teenager said the colors were great and thinks it is cool that it is hardcover.   My middle daughter said she likes it a lot but thought it took too long to be printed.  And my youngest like the pretty girls in it and “the funny parts Dr. Nichols wrote”.

This wonderful book is definitively a must for homeschoolers who wants their kids to learn more about the various Heroes of the Faith throughout history.    It is a beautiful introduction to it and hopefully will spark their interest in learning more about those who followed God in the past.

This review was possible because I received a copy of The Church History ABCs from Crossway.

The Church History ABCs is available everywhere even at

1 comment:

  1. We loved this one too. Here are my thoughts: