Monday, June 6, 2011

Commentary for Children

The idea of a commentary for children was very interesting to me.  With a Bible commentary, you can read a passage in the Bible and look to the Bible for insight and help with concepts or words that you'd like to have more explanation for.

Nancy E. Ganz wrote a 5 book commentary series for children that has been published by Shepherd Press.  Recently, I began reading the first book on Genesis.  The older edition included the teacher's notes.  Shepherd Press has made them accessible here:  

This book is interesting.  It was not what I expected it to be.  It does not follow the typical form of a commentary.  With most commentaries, you can look up a passage in the Bible, open the commentary and find comments for that passage.  The entries in this commentary overlap and go back and forth in Genesis.  Ms. Ganz explains in the introduction that this commentary is a compilation of the Sunday school lessons she taught.  She mentions using them with a class of 8 year olds.  In reading this commentary, it's hard for me imagine using it with 8 year olds.  The language and grammar seems much more appropriate for middle schoolers.  The lessons would be pretty long to do in one sitting with my girls who are 5 and 7.

It is actually the introduction to the teacher's guide that shed a lot of light into Ms. Ganz's approach to teaching and why this commentary is written as it was.  Ms. Ganz's husband is the pastor of Ottawa Reformed Presbyterian Church in Ottawa, Canada.  In the teacher's guide, she identifies a craft, review questions, Psalms to sing for each lessons, and a field trip.  The field trips are rather impractical if you are using this as a part of a Sunday school curriculum, but they are good ideas.  The crafts were inexpensive and easy.  She mentions Psalms because in the RPC denomination, people sing only psalms in church.  They do not sing hymns or contemporary worship songs.  It is the teacher's guide that would make this book very useful to the RPC denomination.  

The effectiveness of the commentary itself depends on the ability of your children to listen to read alouds about theology.  For many families who have raised their children talking weekly with them about the Word, I think this could be a useful and enjoyable book.  In our family, we haven't dug as deep.  We read Bible story books with them and scripture from the NIrV.  So, this commentary wouldn't be very useful to my family at this point.  

But, who might this book be useful for?  I think it would be a helpful resource for teachers in Christian schools, or private school chapel speakers.  It may also be useful for middle school Sunday school teachers.  It may also be useful for your family if you find that your children understand deep theological concepts in elementary school.

I believe that Ms. Ganz's goal is to provide students with a strong foundation for their faith that they might not turn from it when they are older.  This is a good and admirable goal.  Unfortunately, as a friend of mine who is the mother of 15 children said, there is no guarantee.  We love our children and teach them about the Word of God.  We do our best to help them understand.  But, it is God who works in their hearts not us.

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Shepherd Press.

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