We’ve reviewed a number of biographies here in the past; it seems as though it’s one sub-genre that we Christians do well. My daughter and I are reading I Heard Good News Today as part of our homeschooling this year, and even though we’ve not yet finished the book I feel very confident in recommending it. If you have children ages 5-10 I think your family would be very glad to own a copy!
Through 93 short stories, Cornelia Lehn introduces us to missionaries and Christian workers from all over the globe and throughout history. The theme of the book is the spreading of the good news of Jesus, so it aptly begins with a few Bible stories of the first men and women to share the news of the resurrection: Mary Magdalene, Philip and the Ethiopian, Peter and Cornelius, Paul and Lydia. The stories continue with early missionaries (from the first few centuries AD) and then modern missionaries are presented in groupings according to their country or continent. I’ve found there to be a great mix of people I already knew and those who are new to me, and each one’s life is a compelling reminder that we, too, long to be part of bringing the gospel to those who have not yet heard it.
The length of the stories lend themselves well to daily devotional material. My daughter and I share one chapter together most days after reading a Bible story, and I can also envision them being read aloud at dinnertime as a family (by those who don’t have squirmy babies and toddlers at your table…) or read alone by an upper-elementary aged child. I love that the stories are grouped according to geographic region because it connects the individuals together into a larger story about the people living in a specific place.
Lehn’s writing is clear and straightforward, neither overly embellished nor sparse, and I really appreciate the lack of comprehension questions tacked onto the end of each chapter. Being a fan of Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophy I would rather let the child’s own mind interact and wrestle with the characters and storyline. We tend to do our own re-telling and then talk about what stood out to us – and there is always plenty to ponder and discuss!
[If you’re interested in tracking down this book one good source is Sonlight, a homeschool curriculum that includes it in its kindergarten program.]