The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

With so many products available we often need a little help in making our curriculum choices. The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine family understands because we are in the same boat! Do you need more information on a product before you buy? With over 5,500 products listed in 52 easy-to-use categories, much of the information you need to know is only a click away! Let our reviewer-families help yours.
Do you want to get the word out about your product or service to the homeschool community? Email Jenny Higgins and share a little about what you´d like showcased, and we can help with that!

I Can Read God's Word Review by Melissa Theberge

By Phil A. Smouse
Barbour Publishing, Inc.
PO Box 719
Uhrichsville, OH 44683

Finally--a children's selection of Bible truths that can actually be read by the beginning reader! My youngest daughter could not wait for her own "Bible" to arrive in the mail so she could try to read it. While it is not actually an entire Bible, this gem of a book contains sixteen key Bible passages in a format that encourages reading and Bible learning at the same time. The soft-cover glue-bound book contains full-color playful illustrations and varied fonts and colors to define headings and sections. Measuring about 5.5 x 8 inches, it has 256 pages. Although we have not worn the book to excess yet, I do have concerns about the sturdiness of the binding and whether it will remain glued together, so we are treating it gently.

Each of the sixteen chapters of this book follows the same predictable pattern, which I love because everyone in the family can spend time reading this book with our youngest and she will know exactly what to expect. The phonics focus of the chapter is listed first, followed by a brief title, a Scripture reference, and a short subtitle that tells what the story is about. This is followed immediately by a brief devotional to introduce the child to the story's message, a "big" vocabulary word (with its definition) that is important to understanding the message, and finally the actual complete Scripture passage in smaller print. All of this is well organized and easy to read on the first page of each chapter, which is always a left-hand page. The facing page includes other helpful information, such as large-print letter sounds to learn in the chapter and a detailed practice with each of these sounds, showing how they are found in actual words. Each word has an accompanying illustration to make it easy for a child to read the word correctly.

After all the preparatory work of the first two pages, each chapter presents a multi-page paraphrased version of the designated Bible story. Because there is just a sentence or phrase per page, it is easy to enjoy the playful illustrations and focus on the reading. The phonics sounds to be practiced are in red type, making it possible to apply the previous page's lessons within moments of the learning. In addition, the devotional and Scripture focus come to life as the child practices actually reading the story in words that are a bit easier. This was a thrill for my daughter, who was so proud to read a few words from her "very own Bible" all by herself and to understand them too!

If a book titles itself "God's Word," I expect to see more than broad paraphrases, and this book does not disappoint. Taken from the New King James Version, the passages are brief but almost entirely intact, not watered-down in the least. In order to stay true to the original, some portions include more challenging words. In our home, we help out with the reading of those words for now, but I foresee a time when my daughter will be able to read all the stories independently, which will only increase the longevity of this book in our home. Even when the phonics lessons are no longer necessary, I believe we will find that the devotional, vocabulary, full Scripture text, and paraphrased story will be enjoyable to a maturing reader.

Since the day this book arrived in our home, it has been a favorite, and I can already see the rewards in just a couple of months. Our youngest daughter is becoming more familiar with the selected Bible truths in a new way, and our hearts are warmed by her love for her special Bible book. This is truly a book I can recommend for its gentle phonics lessons, reading practice, and most importantly, its Biblical foundation.

Product review by Melissa Theberge, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, August 2009