The Christian faith has become increasingly under attack in America, while sadly, Biblical literacy has been in decline. Danika Cooley's book, Help Your Kids Learn & Love the Bible offers a valuable tool in equipping parents to not only teach Biblical truth to their children but to help them love it. The Word is life to our souls and yet we often treat it as some optional activity. Something relegated to Sunday mornings or midweek church programs.
Cooley asserts, "The impact we have on our families lasts not just through the lifetimes of our children, but through the lifetimes of their kids, and perhaps the generations to follow." Spending time with your kids in the Word is one of the most valuable investments you can make!
Whether or not your family is in the habit of daily reading the Bible together, Cooley's wisdom will motivate and instruct both new and seasoned parents. She offers insights into how children learn at different ages as well as strategies for helping families squeeze the Word into existing daily routines. She even tackles some common excuses for why you may think you don't have time.
Her explanation of the classical educational model really helped me see the stages of Bible instruction in a new way. The earliest stage is the Grammar stage when children are mainly learning through rote memorization. This represents the knowledge phase. The second level is called the Logic stage and that is when children are learning to reason and think critically. This is when knowledge turns into understanding. The final stage of learning is Rhetoric and this is when the classical learner is equipped to persuade. This stage is when understanding turns into wisdom. And wisdom is the ultimate goal we should have for each of our children. Wisdom derived from Scripture--not from the world, their peers, or from teachers.
Cooley then spends a great deal of time explaining the method for beginning a time of Bible instruction. She includes a number of very practical suggestions for parents to use depending on the age of their children. She tackles sticky questions, like how to handle sensitive topics. She emphasizes the importance of accurately handling the Word by considering the genre of a book and its historical context. The goal for instruction should be exegesis (discovering the meaning that God intended), and not eisegesis--reading one's own ideas into the text.
Cooley explains the importance of helping children see the main points of a Bible passage, how it fits into overarching themes of the Bible, and then determining how the passage applies to them personally. Which nicely fits into the 3-stage model of learning--going from knowledge about a passage to understanding (how it fits into the Bible as a whole) and finally becoming wisdom to see how Scripture applies to our lives.
One of the most helpful sections of the book deals with mistakes people make when reading the Bible. It is imperative that we carefully handle the Word of God and not unknowingly model erroneous thinking. We must make sure to avoid the following:
- "Allegorizing" Scripture: looking for "hidden meanings" and reading things into the text that were not intended
- Decontextualizing: taking verses out of context
- Selective reading: cherry-picking verses to focus on
- Moralizing Bible Stories: trying to apply a "moral" to every story in the Bible
Cooley concludes the book with a dose of encouragement for parents to run the race, make the effort, to not become weary in leading their children to the Lord. I highly recommend this book for new parents as well as seasoned parents or even grandparents. Believers, we must take seriously the task of equipping the next generation to love and serve the Lord. And that begins with helping them move from knowledge to understanding and finally to wisdom so that they in turn can continue this cycle with their own children.
Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of Help Your Kids Learn & Love the Bible from NetGalley for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.