The Radical Book for Kids is one of those books that makes you exclaim, “I wish I’d had this when I was a kid.” In fact, I said this so many times while reading this book, I risked annoying my wife. Turns out, one of the endorsers had the same thought I did, but I didn’t notice that until I was half way through the book.
The simplest way to explain this volume is to compare it to a basic overview of Christianity presented in the format of the Dangerous Book for Boys (or girls). The closest equivalent to this book that was around when I was a kid would have been a Boy Scout Handbook.
This description, however, risks making this sound like a Christian knock off. That wouldn’t be fair to the author, Champ Thornton. He may have been inspired by the format, but this is a book that deserves to be considered on its own merits.
The Radical Book for Kids: Exploring the Roots and Shoots of Faith is filled with brilliant colors, attractive graphic design, and oodles of information. This is the sort of book that draws you into reading it, if just to admire the pictures.
There are no chapters or clear segments in the book, though there is an order and progression to it when reading it from cover to cover. It’s the sort of book meant for opening randomly on a Sunday afternoon.
When you open the book, you might find yourself reading a summary of the biblical story line, learning how to make a sling, or reading a biography of a great Christian. At another reading, you could discover the different systems of money used in the Bible, learn why manners matter, or getting introduced to the structure of a New Testament Epistle. At a different time, you might find yourself learning the Greek alphabet, exploring images of Christ in literature, or reading tips on how to memorize something.
Thornton combines biblical survey, typological teaching, hermeneutics, systematic theology, and church history into a coherent jumble of discipleship. He’s included a few jokes, some trivia, and occasional games with eternal truths that will really help kids understand more about the Christian faith.
The whole book pitches important topics at the right level for kids to understand. If I had to give an age range, I’d say 7-140 is about right. I am confident my first graders will enjoy this as much as my preteen.
This lively book will be a great gift for the kid who has been sitting through church, Sunday school, and AWANA for years, but still hasn’t gotten the big picture. That’s the greatest strength of this volume, it continually shows how the gospel holds everything together. Even though it is filled with a variety of information, it has one consistent theme.
Once you give this to your kids, expect to be peppered with random facts about Christianity. You may also be roped into playing “Dogs and Jackals” or making a ‘clay’ pot with them. You’ll probably have to make sure all the kids get a turn with it, too, though that will likely settle down in a few weeks.
If there is one critique of the book, it is that there are some pop culture references that may seem dated in 20 years. However, none of them are critical to the book, and at that point you’re considering the value for your grandkids.
So, buy the book, give it to a kid you know, and watch them enjoy exploring the depths of it. This really is an excellent volume that deserves a place in your home.
Note: I received a gratis copy of this volume from the publisher with no expectation of a positive review.