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What Does the Bible Say About That? Review by Dawn Oaks

By Carolyn Larsen
Crossway Books
c/o Good News Publishers
1300 Crescent Street
Wheaton, IL 60187

What Does the Bible Say About That? is a wonderful topical guide that allows preteens between the ages of 8 and 12 to explore what the Bible has to say. Our family used this resource for our morning devotions after breakfast and right before school.

There are 340 topics covered, ranging from ambition to abandonment and from worry to worship. Each topic contains an introduction to the concept being presented. I must admit that our family does not advocate the use of modern-day jargon such as "cool," "dude," and other teenybopper phrases. In some of the introductions, it almost seemed like the author was excessive in the use of such phrases in an attempt to be trendy. However, the message she was conveying was solidly Biblical. Maybe I'm just getting old, but I did find myself filtering out some of the modern terminology while maintaining the point that the author was making.

After the introduction, there are generally three Bible verses presented. These verses are clearly referenced and come from the English Standard Version. This is not a version that we typically use, so I simply asked my kids to look up the verses in their Bibles and read them aloud. It was a way of reinforcing Scripture that they have already been exposed to and possibly memorized without "tripping" over new wordings.

The third section on each page gets into the "nitty-gritty" of what the Bible really has to say in the application for each topic. I found these applications to be mostly on target. There were a few instances where I found myself editing as I went. For example, on the topic of church, the author begins by stating that attending church is important and that it is a good thing to meet with others to study God's Word. She goes on to say that it does get boring at times, and when we are bored during the sermon this is a good time to read our Bibles or pray. I edited this particular part, as our philosophy on church for our preteens is that church is not about being entertained. There may be times when listening is hard, but that is where the development of self-discipline and perseverance comes in.

At the end of each topic is a challenge for the child to find an opportunity that day to apply the lesson to his or her own life. We usually read this section together and then brainstormed some other ways of applying the lesson.

In summary, What Does the Bible Say About That? covers a huge variety of topics. My encouragement to parents is to review the topics, the terminology, and the counsel within the topics before just handing this resource over to your child to independently use as a devotional or reference tool. As a Christian homeschooling family, we attempt to protect our children's innocence as long as it is possible and advantageous. There are topics in this book that I do not feel are necessary for my preteen to be studying at this point (such as addiction, dating, drug abuse, sex, and witchcraft). These are topics that do need to be addressed, but not necessarily when a child is between 8 and 12 years old.

Each family's situation and exposure to worldly pressures and circumstances is different. This is a great resource to have on hand when a difficult situation comes up and you need some biblical direction. However, I would be reluctant to recommend What Does the Bible Say About That? as a preteen devotional guide that would be used apart from the perspective and counsel of the child's parents.

Product review by Dawn Oaks, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, September 2009