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The Gospel for Children Review by Deborah Burt

John B. Leuzarder
Shepherd Press
P.O. Box 24,
Wapwallopen, PA 18660

The Gospel for Children is a well-illustrated book of bite-sized theology designed for parents to use as a tool to help their children understand and memorize the gospel message. Not quite a catechism-tool because it is not written in question and answer form and not quite a Bible-memory tool because scriptures have been merged and summarized together in various divisions, The Gospel for Children stands alone in its unique approach to child-friendly systematic theology.

The Gospel for Children is designed to aid parents or teachers in teaching children the essential doctrines of our faith. Author John Leuzarder points out that the gospel is more than a few lines from a tract and that to truly grasp the gospel we must have some comprehension of what the Bible teaches as a whole. Mr. Leuzarder had searched for a book that would capture his children's interest, be doctrinally correct and complete in scope, and be easy to memorize - and found nothing to satisfy him. To meet these needs for himself and others, Mr. Leuzarder created The Gospel for Children.

The Gospel for Children categorizes foundational biblical truths into 6 topics: God, Bible, Sin, Jesus, Repentance and Faith, and Counting the Costs. The book is written in outline form, with several Main Outline Points under each of the 6 topics, and a few Supporting Truths under each Main Outline Point. Each Main Outline point comes with an illustration to aid in understanding and memorization. Many of the Main Outline Points and Supporting Truths have footnotes leading to a very long list of Bible references for each topic.

Let's take a peek into The Gospel for Children's section on the Bible. There are 4 Main Outline Points listed under the category "Bible". The first one is "The Bible is how God speaks to us today." The illustration for this point is a drawing of an open Bible with a conversation bubble over it that reads, "Love your neighbor as yourself." There is only one Supporting Truth listed under this point, "It is God's own words written down by holy men who were chosen by God and taught by the Holy Spirit." If you follow the footnotes from this section, you will find scripture references from 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and 2 Peter 1:19-21 printed in totality within the text.

The Gospel for Children is laid out so that it may be easily used for memorization. Children (and adults) would memorize the names of the 6 main topics and the 38 Main Outline Points listed throughout the book. The Supporting Truths are there for explanation only, not for memorization. Each of the 38 Main Points is situated next to a darling, cartoon-like drawing that illustrates the point vividly. The back of the book provides a section called Memory Helps where these illustrations are laid out by themselves. The child is able to move from illustration to illustration, reciting the points he has hidden within his heart. Because this is quite a bit of memorization and designed to be used with children as young as 5, Mr. Leuzarder suggests providing an incentive in the form of a reward for children to successfully commit the main points to memory.

Our family really enjoyed The Gospel for Children. Our three boys ages 10, 8, and 6 were able to commit the Main Outline Points to memory (each at his own individual pace). I followed Mr. Leuzarder's advice and offered rewards to the boys - this could by why the boys memorized with great fervor! I love that it only took us a month or two to feel confident that our children have a nice, tidy overview of scripture and Christianity. We could have memorized this information in less time, but went slowly through it and did not practice every day. I think this material will be stored in their hearts and come to mind when the boys have opportunities to share the gospel with non-Christians.

My only complaint about this book was that it was not what I expected. From the comments on the back cover of the book, I was expecting more of a story, more of what homeschoolers would call a "living book." The Gospel for Children is less of a story and more of a systematic theology. Once over my surprise as to what the book contained, I fell in love with it.

I think most homeschool families could benefit from this book, especially families who do not currently catechize their children but would like their children to have a solid overview of Christian truth. School-at-Home and Classical Educators would most enjoy the easy-to-follow outline format of this book. Charlotte Mason or Unschooling educators may be turned off by the methodical layout; however although our family leans toward a Charlotte Mason education and we delight in "living books," we still found a place for a book like this in our studies.

Overall, The Gospel for Children was a very useful tool for our family to summarize and memorize a bit of biblical theology. It provided us a chance to discuss the gospel message with our children and answer questions we may not have known they had if we had not gone through this book. It is an inexpensive book, worth more than its weight in gold for the help it can be for understanding and memorizing God's truths. I highly recommend The Gospel for Children

Product Review by Deborah Burt, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, December, 2008