In her series, Christian Biographies for Young Readers (published by Reformation Heritage Books), Simonetta Carr has given the church helpful tools to educate the next generation in church history. Her clear explanations, vivid illustrations, and articulate maps assist readers young and old alike, to appreciate the lives of these faithful saints who have gone before us.
Carr maintains the same organizational structure throughout, beginning with a brief overview of each life and some of their significant contributions to the Church.
Carefully, she transitions into the culture and politics that were present during their upbringing. This is essential in understanding Augustine’s education, for example, which was drastically different from our own today. She also highlights important incidents that shaped each life further down the road. For Augustine, this was a prank of stealing pears that he later reflected on as he grasped his sin. John Owen endured a rigorous training that left him with little sleep, potentially damaging his health as he grew older. Finally, throughout the book, Carr traces each life chronologically, noting various theological issues and debates that arose during their lives. Most of these concepts are difficult for younger readers, but Carr does an excellent job using terms they are familiar with and highlighting incidents that they can relate to. Notably, Carr explains Augustine’s challenges in exposing the false teachings of the Manichees, which is conceptually difficult for younger readers, in a way children can understand.
The illustrations throughout are tastefully done, capturing what life would have looked like. Also, they expose key events in each life, many of which were very dramatic. Carr also includes current pictures of locations. For Augustine, she inserted the ruins of Carthage, and in John Owen’s biography, various portraits taken at the time. Finally, one of the most helpful aspects, are the maps Carr includes at the beginning. These allow the readers to trace and understand where significant events happened.
Carr has summarized these lives clearly and in a way that younger readers (age 6 -12) can not only read but also enjoy. Her illustrations and age appropriate wording make these books ideal for covenant families. These books will be used in our home as we seek to give our children an appreciation for those faithful believers who have gone before us.