Everyone in the family. Not only are they recommended reading for history curricula, but these books also take up a large chunk of our family’s favorite readaloud lists.
My rating: 5/5, which probably reflects the whole family’s opinion as well
My favorite book: So hard to choose…. probably George Muller: Guardian of Bristol’s Orphans.
Ah, my first chance to review a whole series at once. Luckily, they follow a very uniform pattern, and they all have one purpose- to teach young readers about Christian history. The authors trace the lives of Christian missionaries, reformers, and other heroes of the faith. Did you know that George Muller started out as a thief and a manipulator? Have you ever heard the story of how Nate Saint was mistaken for a hobo? Janet and Geoff Benge tell these stories and more.
What is good
We have no dry, wordy biographies here. The authors write these stories from history just like that: as a story. The people talk to each other with real dialogue like characters in a novel. The descriptions are vivid just as in a fairy tale; you can actually imagine that you are traveling with Amy Carmichael in India or listening to Spurgeon preach in London.
Not only is the storytelling engaging, but this book never shies away from telling the characters’ beliefs and even preaching from a Christian perspective. I’m sure you have picked up one of those books by a secular author who tries to doctor the story a bit or eliminate Christian truth. How annoying. Here, though, God appears as a major player in every single story.
As if all that wasn’t good enough, when you pick up one of these biographies, you have a clean book to read even to the youngest of your family members. With a few exceptions, the authors steer clear of tricky content without cutting important historical details. I may want to read to my siblings about Hudson Taylor, but I don’t really want them to hear all about the bloody Boxer Rebellion in the process. Janet and Geoff Benge understand and respect that. (See below for those exceptions.)
What is not good
Parents ought to be forewarned that, while most books are suitable all the way through for younger kids, we have encountered a very few exceptions. Amy Carmichael, for example, gives more details than we would prefer on child brides and sati in India, and Gladys Aylward talks about a public execution. It may be a good idea to pre-read certain books and see if your kids or siblings can handle it.
Whether you are a parent looking for a good read aloud, a student trying to find a Christian history, or just a reader hoping to locate another good book, you will find what you want in the Christian Heroes: Then and Now series.