So, too, do the seven stories in Children’s Stories by JC Ryle (Christian Focus Publications, 2001, 2008, 2015).
Children’s Stories by J.C. Ryle
JC Ryle (1816-1900) was the first bishop of Liverpool in the Church of England.
The seven stories (or children’s sermons) in the book each begin with a short Scripture. Ryle then expands on the Bible story or Scripture with his own application for children.
Overall, I very much like the book. It addresses subjects we don’t often see in 21st century children’s books, such as the difference between heaven, hell, and earth; the consequences of sin; contentment; and seeking the Lord. JC Ryle clearly articulated the consequences of salvation versus those of a godless life. He strongly urged children to follow Christ in all they do.
One hesitation with the book was that I did think there was more emphasis on “being good” than on sanctification or holiness as the result of justification. I sometimes felt like the book took on the tone of moralism (which honestly is pretty typical of 19th century children’s literature). That said, there was a good deal of the gospel threaded into the narrative. As an adult, I hear that gospel thread. But I will read this to my kids to be certain they hear it as well. It’s true that we are to progressively become holy as we follow Christ. It is also true that we must be called and saved before we are able to do any more than wash the outside of the cup. It is Christ who washes the inside.
My kids read a wide range of material, and we are constantly discussing the issue of justification and sanctification. I would be concerned about some of the older works of literature that place such a high value on outward obedience were I not certain they were also clearly hearing the gospel on a regular basis. (Please don’t hear me say that I don’t teach obedience or godly values. We did teach those even before our youngest two showed the fruit of regeneration. Character is important, and fear of the Lord is vital.)
I liked the narrative nature and thought process Ryle added to small sections of Scripture. For instance, I’ve always cringed at Elisha’s rebuke of the mocking children (you know, where he curses them and they’re attacked by bears – 2 Kings 2:23-24). In fact, I’ve always seen Elisha as a somewhat scary figure. Ryle spent a page explaining that Elisha wasn’t angry or vindictive, but only pronouncing God’s judgment on the children. (That makes sense. He was, after all, a prophet.) Ryle then makes the points that: God notices children, it’s wrong to mock good people and their faith, and that sin brings sorrow. All interesting points, with an interesting perspective.
I really liked this book and will absolutely read it to my children. Before doing so, I will remind them that we are able to follow Christ only because He has enabled us to do so. I am interested in discussing Ryle’s take-away points with my boys. Overall, I really appreciate the subjects covered in the book and the compassionate, non-condescending tone Ryle uses.
Purchase Children’s Stories
I’d like to thank Christian Focus Publications for sending me Children’s Stories by JC Ryle in return for my honest review.
Christian Book: Children’s Stories By J.C. Ryle
Bible Resources for Your Kids
Christian Biographies for Kids | Christian History for Kids | Theology for Kids
Christian History Matters for Our Kids.
History matters. Now, more than ever, we see how important it is for our children to know and understand history and the Bible.
- God is the sovereign ruler of all things. It’s important for our kids to see his hand in the history of nations and in the lives of both peasants and kings.
- Christian history is the story of our family history. Our kids get to see how people who love Jesus follow him.
- Understanding history can help our kids learn historic and biblical theology. They learn what the Bible says and what that means for us. They also see when the study of Scripture has taken important turns that have changed the Church.
- Reading Christian biographies and history can be a wonderful way for kids to think outside their own time and culture. God’s Church spans centuries and includes people from every nation.
- Christian biographies help kids consider their own faith, walk with Jesus, and the impact their witness may one day have on others–and on history.
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