Modern Reformation recently sat down with Simonetta Carr, the author of John Calvin (published by Reformation Heritage Books, 2008), and asked a few questions about her work and the philosophy behind children’s literature.
Why is it important for our children to read Christian biography?
There are several reasons. I was motivated to write this biographical series for young readers when I realized that most children today are not aware of the concept of “church history” as the progress of God’s people throughout the ages. They read Bible stories, they see other believers today, and they read a few stories about a few individual Christians who lived in between, but the connecting thread seems to be missing.
With these books, I don’t want to tell children, “Look how wonderful these people were! Let’s all be like them.” There are other biographies that do that. I want to explain how some Christians have impacted history – secular and non-secular – and how their teachings affect what we believe today. I am also hoping to introduce children to the real characters, with all the struggles and the intensity of emotions that have accompanied their decisions.
How should parents use this series and your book?
Some parents have read the book to their children in one sitting, and others have used it as a study guide, one chapter at a time, and both of these approaches seem to work well. My hope is that these books will be readily available to our young people, who can then read and re-read them on their own, and that they will spark an interest which parents will be able to encourage with additional material. As I read with my children devotional books based on quotations by John Calvin, I notice that their level of interest is much higher now that they understand how God shaped Calvin’s life and moved him to write what he wrote.
For homeschooling families, these books can provide a basis for unit studies. Currently, Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) is using the book on John Calvin to formulate a series of lessons that will be used within their clubs.
Why does the story of John Calvin resonate with young readers?
I passed this question on to my own children, and they said that they were impressed to see how Calvin kept faithful, in spite of great difficulties and opposition, to the truth and to God’s calling in his life.
What is the most important point you want children to take away from the life of John Calvin?
His humanity. Calvin never tried to set himself up as a Protestant Pope, as some critics accuse him to have done. His actions and his writings were conscientiously motivated by a compelling love for God’s truth as it is revealed in Scriptures and for Christ’s church.
What is your next writing project?
I have completed a book on Augustine of Hippo, which is presently being reviewed by experts in the subject, and will be published, God willing, in December 2009. I am also beginning research on John Owen for a book scheduled to be published in December 2010.