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Hang On To Jesus! Adventures series & Teaching Guide Review by Ta’Neisha KempRick Tancreto
Little Saints Press
P.O. Box 333
Piney Point, MD 20674
The most important thing parents will share with children are their morals, values, and faith. Each opportunity we have to share our belief should be done with love and future family generations in mind. Thankfully, Hang on To Jesus! Adventures series and Teaching Guide from Little Saints Press offers a unique way to introduce and explain the gospel to young children.
The Hang On To Jesus! Adventures series is a faith course for families with young children. The series includes 11 sequential books that build on each other as you continue the program. Each book is hardcover, 29 pages, and full of colorful illustrations. The set came packed neatly in an upright keepsake box that allows all the titles to be clearly displayed. The books can only be purchased as a set. When bought with the Teaching Guide, the complete package costs $75.
A welcome packet with detailed course instructions was also provided. This outlined the meaning of frequently used icons, provided a list of items needed, and an explanation of their suggested timeline to complete this curriculum. The information offers a broad range of 11 weeks to 11 months which is understandable. Initially, I planned to work through one book each week; however, further review encouraged me to slow down the pace to ensure we did not miss anything. A program Certificate of Completion is also included.
The Teaching Guide is spiral bound with numbered tabs separating the information for each lesson. Each book is broken down into five or more activities with detailed instructions for completion. On occasion, information about rereading pages is suggested before beginning the discussion or activity. Activities include keeping a treasure chest filled with scripture memory cards, going stargazing, keeping a list of good things, and answering questions. Since my children were so young rather than write the scriptures, I had them draw pictures about what the discussed verses meant. This allowed them to offer an explanation at their level of understanding.
I read the first four books with my five-year-old son and three-year-old daughter during the review period. Due to the age of my younger children, their attention span, length of the books, and amount of information included I decided to read most books within two weeks. I did read the remaining books myself before writing this review. During this time, I also followed the Teaching Guide lesson plans but split most sessions in half so we could have 10-20 minutes of Bible time daily, Monday through Friday.
The books within this series walk you through Bible stories and foundations of our faith as explained by Jesus to Ricky and his younger sister Dee Dee. Each book begins with a discussion between the siblings or a conversation with Jesus that turns into a field trip. The siblings are introduced to Jesus in We're Going to Heaven, after an argument on the swing set. From there the two take a trip to Heaven where they learn about our new heavenly bodies, the Book of Life, sin, angels, and eternal life. Amazing God! takes the children through the creation of Earth and learning about our all-knowing God. Child of God, the third book in this series, teaches about some of the character traits of God. Jesus Loves Me! focuses on the birth and life of Christ while the children visit with the angel, Gabriel. Jesus to My Rescue! continues with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.
God Lives in Me discusses the prophets, baptism, and the Holy Spirit. The sixth book also includes a Come Follow Me DVD that tells the story of Jesus Christ's life and ministry. More Like Jesus explains how the Holy Spirit guides us and transforms our thoughts, words, and deeds. God's Team covers the church body and spiritual gifts while I’m God's Warrior teaches about being a soldier in His army. In the tenth book, we learn about the joyous and triumphant return of Christ in Jesus is Coming Back! Finally, A Letter from God is the perfect summary of all the information given throughout the series.
While we read the stories, I enjoyed the overall quality of the books and illustrations. I am glad I read a few pages of the book each day. This allowed for plenty of discussion with my preschooler and kindergartener. They asked plenty of questions as we reviewed what was learned during the adventure. We also discussed the vocabulary words introduced throughout the stories. I decided to keep a running list of these words and we repeated them a few times each week. I also encouraged my children to use their new words in sentences. By taking our time through this series we also shared some story reading moments with the grandparents during their visit. Watching them read about God together was truly priceless.
Each book includes scripture throughout the text and on some page margins. The passages are always from easy to read translations which is great for early readers. The author was extremely detailed in his desire to ensure your child understands how to communicate with God. By showing the children simply conversing with Jesus, they learn what prayer is. I also liked the summaries included at the end of some books. These explained how the book information applies to our lives. This section also includes a prayer and a passage about salvation. A Letter from God was my favorite book from the series because it told the complete story of our faith in the simplest terms. I look forward to reading it to them often, especially at bedtime.
With this series, I would be mindful of the image of Jesus in each book. In our home, we prefer not to refer to one artist's design of what Christ might look like. The bible also warns us of using his image because of the division it can cause believers. Throughout my Christian journey, I have heard much debate about what Christ looks like with and without scripture. We teach our children to avoid these images and know that the presence of Christ brings an indescribable comfort of light and peace.
The Hang on To Jesus! Adventures series and Teaching Guide, written by Rick Tancreto, was created to help families share their Christian faith with the next generation. Using this Little Saints Press series also creates meaningful opportunities for quality time with children and grandchildren. Per the website, the author recommends using this program with children ages 6 to 12. However, after working through this course, I believe it best suits children, ages 4 to 10, that enjoy visual aids as they learn. This series is for families that are willing to make time to read these books with their children. You want to make sure you are available to answer any questions and further explain the books as needed. Paired with the Teaching Guide, this course will allow you to share the doctrines of Christianity in an engaging, unique, and fun way.
-Product review by Ta'Neisha Kemp, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May 2019