Firstly, I want to open this review by saying I am hugely grateful for Aaron (the author), nothing to do with this book or his work on my favorite kids curriculum, but because of all people a Canadian, who lives in Nashville (i.e. not a local), was able to show me my favorite place to eat BBQ in Texas. I really enjoyed meeting Aaron last year and eating great BBQ food with him while talking shop, and so when I saw that Epic was in the works my excitement grew greatly!
Among other ministry leaders, Aaron sent me a free copy to have a look over, which I was glad to. He wrote a letter alongside it which describes exactly what the aim of this book was.
As a dad with children in the awkward middle-kid years (8-12), I’ve noticed something: there aren’t enough good, faithful family resources for kids like mine.
He is spot on. There is an incredible wealth of Bible storybooks and devotions that are incredible resources for your preschoolers and lower elementary kids, but I think that there is a lack of resources to help transition older elementary and preteen kids into reading a full-text Bible for pleasure. I’m not saying kids don’t need Bibles, they do, and this certainly wasn’t created to take the place of one, but kids want and need something fun and engaging to read, at their level.
Again, Aaron’s role within the Gospel Project ensures this book is aligned with the “one Big Story” series that tries to show the gospel through each Bible story, and in this case pointing to Jesus through 40 scriptural narratives, with subsequent application questions. Now, I went to university (college) with a avid book fan, called James, and I remember one day having a conversation with a few of the guys about how kids misuse words (we were all trainee teachers). Literally is almost always not literally, and epic is rarely ever epic. Well, in this case, the story being presented through each of these smaller stories truly is epic.
It’s hard to know where to start in terms of actually reviewing the content, because it is SO GOOD. Like I can picture the preteens at my church grabbing onto this and loving it. Especially seeing as right now when I post it LifeWay has it at $8.49!
Each story is spread across anywhere from 4-10 pages, and while the artwork (consistent with Gospel Project artwork that my kids at church see often) is hugely impressive, and eye-catching, it doesn’t detract from the story. I have seen comic-book style Bible storybooks where it goes a little too far with the comic approach to where I think it is distracting. This, I love. The main thing is the main thing. After the story of Jacob and Esau the question reads:
How does it change the way we live to know God’s blessing is not something we can earn, but that He freely blesses all who trust in Christ?
The story is connected to Jesus and the question isn’t exactly a shallow, surface-level one for kids to skip past.
The stories are excellently written, very engaging, and the supporting imagery is fantastic. I also am a big font lover (again the ex-teacher in me) and I like the choices here too. I decided to give my copy to my brother-in-law (he’s about to start 5th grade) and he was very excited to receive it. I got this text from his mom the next day:
I think that’s an endorsement.
– Jared Simpson