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Book Reviews

Check out book reviews for use in your Christian Education ministry.

Christian Education in the Small Membership Church

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6

Introduction

Creativity, innovation, inclusivity, improvisation, passion, dedication. These are all building blocks of Christian education within a small membership church. Making up for limited resources such as budget, space, staffing, not to mention only a handful of students on any given Sunday, may seem like an insurmountable challenge, especially if we compare ourselves to larger parishes with full wings dedicated to Christian education, annual Vacation Church Schools, weekly SOYO events, etc. In a book designed for those of us working and serving in the context of a small membership church entitled Christian Education in the Small Membership Church, author and Emeritus Professor of Christian Education at Eden Theological Seminary Karen B. Tye presents her insight on “the creative possibilities that reside in the small membership church for doing the vital work of education and formation, of equipping the saints for ministry.” (p. ix, Introduction)

Gleanings from a Book: "The Suitcase" by Jane G. Meyer

Orthodox Christian author Jane G. Meyer has written a new picture book called The Suitcase: a Story about Giving. The book was illustrated by Chiara Pasqualotto. It is the story of Thomas, a boy who may be autistic but does not let his challenges keep him from being an active participant - even a leader - in entering the Kingdom of God while bringing others with him. Any reader, regardless of age, will be challenged to find ways to make God’s Kingdom happen in the world around them after meeting Thomas through this book. 

Here is a brief summary and review of the book:

Thomas is like clockwork. He is so precise with his preferred activities that you can almost predict what he will do each day. So, when he randomly shows up at the family supper table one night with a suitcase, declaring that he intends to leave for the Kingdom of Heaven, it catches everyone’s attention, for this is far from his routine!

Gleanings from a Book: Parenting Toward the Kingdom by Dr. Philip Mamalakis

I was so excited when I learned that this book was in the works! Before reading it, I had great expectations: I anticipated that it would be filled with gentle nudges towards godliness based both on years of education and personal experience. I knew that the wisdom in this book would be presented in a practical way backed by the in-the- trenches research that life with 7 children offers to their parents. And once I received and read the book, I was not at all disappointed! My expectations for this book were the result of personal experience. Our family had the privilege of meeting the Mamalakis family at Family Camp at the Antiochian Village years ago when they were the featured presenters for the parent sessions. We learned so much from Dr. Mamalakis (and from his lovely wife, Georgia) while we were together. My husband and I could step out of the parent sessions and immediately apply the concepts we had just discussed. Our family is the better for having learned these principles, however imperfectly we have applied them. (An aside: We also benefitted from watching the Mamalakis parents apply the principles they had shared, as they interacted with their children over the course of the family camp sessions. It is a joy to watch these parents lovingly guide their children using the principles! There is an abundance of love in Mamalakis family, and these principles allow them to parent their children in the context of that great love. It is a joy to experience.)

But I digress. Let's get back to the book. "Parenting Toward the Kingdom" outlines the principles that the Mamalakis family has followed:

Gleanings from a Book: Orthodox Christian Parenting Cultivating God's Creation

We recently discovered the book Orthodox Christian Parenting - Cultivating God's Creation by Marie L. Eliades, published by Zoe Press in 2012. This book is a compilation of quotes and writings about raising and educating Orthodox Christian children. The text is gathered both from Church fathers and contemporary Orthodox Christians, and is presented by theme. (An important note: the introduction to the book tells more about the project and encourages readers to discuss what they read with their spiritual father to see what is best for their own family.)

Gleanings From a Book: Catherine’s Pascha by Charlotte Riggle

by Kristina Wenger

This book made me cry. Loud, soggy gasps accompanied my declaration, "I didn't see THAT coming!" My husband came running, thinking something was horribly wrong. "I... love... this book!" I assured him between sobs, and then I showed him the cause of my tears. We'll get to that in just a little bit..

From the moment I cracked it open, this book appealed to me on so many levels. The story is genuine. The illustrations are eye‐catching and detailed. The unity of the Holy Orthodox Church is clearly emphasized. The joy of Pascha is palpable. This book is a delightful celebration of Pascha! 

Catherine's Pascha is written in a realistic, believable way. As I read, it was like I could hear my own children being Catherine's age again, from the "Why do I have to go to bed at regular time, tonight, when I'm getting up again in a few hours to go to church? You KNOW I won't sleep!;" through the delight of shouting "Indeed He is risen!" in multiple languages throughout the Divine Liturgy in the wee hours of the morning; all the way to the gleeful "I'm not a bit sleepy!" while trying to win at the egg‐cracking game and then eating all those things we haven't eaten in weeks. The story itself is a gentle walk through what happens at the Paschal Divine Liturgy, accentuated with the pure delight that children regularly experience and share. The way the story is written fills me with anticipation for the Pascha celebration that lies ahead! Reading the book gave me excited goosebumps.

The Story of the Holy Hierarch Nectarios the Wonderworker

by Catalin Gregore, Illustrated by Cristina Ionescu-Berechet.

Little Anastasios was a meek child, thirsting for knowledge. As a young man, he decided to serve God in a Monastery and became a monk. For his love and obedience, he received many gifts from God, among which was the gift of wonderworking. His pure life showed him to people as a great Saint of the church, a protector of children and healer of ailments of all kinds: St. Nectarios of Aegina.

Click here to purchase!

Anna Larsen Book Reviews

by Shelley Pituch

Glory to God, An Amazing Pilgrimage, and Life in the Shed are three books in a series of The Adventures of a Little Ringtail.  The books are adapted from The Amazing Story of a Little Hedgehog, originally written in Russian by Monk Lazar.  In the first book, the characters learn a lesson about the importance of prayer and what life is like without it.  They discover how God guides and helps them by working together for the “Glory of God” in prayer.  The second book, the characters set out on a pilgrimage to an Orthodox monastery.  Along the way, they meet obstacles that could tempt them, but they are not worried.  Finally, in book three, the characters learn that good deeds and love can turn old enemies into friends.  This books series would be appropriate for preschoolers through grade 4.  The themes and lessons taught in the stories could be adapted for the multiple age levels and would be excellent for Sunday School, Homeschool, and personal home use. 

Feasts of the Orthodox Church:  an educational coloring book, covers the 12 major feasts of the Orthodox Liturgical calendar.  With each feast, there is a description and information about the feast, as well as a coloring sheet and provided lines for student responses.  Sunday school teachers and homeschool teachers are permitted to copy the sheets for non-commercial use, making it a useful resource in instruction.  This book would be perfect for Kindergarten through Grade 2.

A Visual Catechism of the Orthodox Church

The book provides the basic tenets of Orthodoxy from creation to the Church in 58 pages each with a sentence and full-color illustration. The second part of the book gives a fuller analysis of the 58 statements, and is suitable for adult classes. The book is a handy general resource and has been used with children who have had no prior classroom introduction to the faith to help them "catch-up" with their classmates. Available from the Antiochian Bookstore or from ArchangelsBooks.com.

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