“You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” Deuteronomy 6:7
“Every Christian family ought to be as it were a little church.”
When Joshua, our oldest who is now a twenty-eight year old husband, was first born, we were visited by a friendly college student who was selling a set of Bible stories. We let him in and listened to his spill—and saw the quality product he had to offer and, in spite of being two poor college students with a new baby, we bought. And it was one of the best purchases we made for our children’s first twelve years of Bible teaching.
Also about that same time, we were introduced to the concept that is summarized in today’s quote by Jonathan Edwards. We were instructed at a parenting seminar that our home should be a center—a hospitality center, a Bible teaching center, an education center, a healing center (where we should reach out to those who are hurting), and much more.
From these ideas, we decided that church should be an extension of our family—it should augment what we do at home (not replace it or even be the main tool with family supplementing it). We should be our primary faith teachers—and church, Sunday school, and other outside sources can help us achieve our faith goals for our children. When we look at our children’s “faith teaching” in this way, we feel the true sense of responsibility that we have in our children. We do not become dependent upon someone else to do it for us. Yes, others have helped us greatly through the years—including Sunday school, Royal Rangers, Upwards, homeschool groups, etc. etc. But our children’s Bible teaching is ultimately our responsibility—and nobody else’s.
Family Bible Library and the idea that our home should become a miniature church, so speak, merged perfectly together. It was (and has been for twenty-seven years) a tool that we have used to be a “little church” for our children—a place where they learn the Bible and its concepts every day through lifestyle, materials, song, prayer, discussion, and more.
The original Family Bible Library (the one we purchased twenty-seven years ago) is the 1971 version. It is and was wonderful. In a nutshell, this is what you get with that version:
*10 hardcover books covering dozens and dozens of Bible stories in chronological order
*Pictures, charts, graphs, etc. throughout
*Text written at approximately at fourth or fifth grade reading level, though definitely children as young as age four can listen and comprehend the material
*Short two-three page stories with questions following each story
*Study skills types of material following each story, including maps, charts, diagrams, etc. that help the reader understand more about the story, the time period, the region, etc. (this was my two oldest kids’ favorite parts!)
We used these with our preschoolers and elementary children by me (Donna) reading through the entire series with each child. (Others could join us, but at least the child whose turn it was did it with me.) Then, when each child turned ten to twelve, depending on reading ability, he or she did the entire series for himself/herself (or in some cases had a daily read aloud with a younger sibling and the “reader” read it aloud to a little).
Additionally, because our teens have done a lot of Bible teaching of younger kids (our girls through their girls’ newsletter; our olders who taught character in public schools; our boys now who work with cognitively disabled adults; etc.), the FBL came in handy to use as a resource for them.
I can’t say enough about this program—and recommend it highly for all families with four to twelve year olds as a daily devotional with parents (or for the child to read for himself for his own devotions). It spans multi-ages, especially with the study helps following each story. This, along with Character Sketches (http://tfths.com/character.php --upcoming review!) and a Bible, is a perfect Bible/character combination for using daily with children ages four to twelve.
Downsides: You’re gonna love me for this—but Southwestern Publishing is no longer printing FBL! There are some still available through various sources—and you can get it used for 25% or less of the original cost. People have these sitting around in basements and attics—they’re out there; you just have to look a little online. Training for Triumph (our homeschooling business/ministry) used to carry the new (2005) version, which is outstanding and more beautiful than the originals—if you can get that version, do so! However, we were told a year ago that they were not publishing more. (We have the1971 version and still love it and use it, so the new is not essential.)
1971 version link: http://www.amazon.com/Family-Bible-Library-10-Set/dp/B0013GAYR4/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1267324741&sr=1-2
2005 version link: http://www.amazon.com/Family-Bible-Library-8-Set/dp/B001FQ8YH4/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1267325676&sr=1-6