The Who What Why series of Christian biographies for kids is an exciting journey through history. Christian history books for every library!
Christian Biographies for Kids | Christian History for Kids | Theology for Kids
“As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.” – Psalm 16:3, ESV
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.
Elementary-aged kids need middle grade resources that are fun, a little sassy, and that teach valuable lessons.
The Who What Why Series is the perfect resource to teach your kids about history, while helping them apply biblical truths to their lives today.
Purchase Who What Why Christian Biographies for Kids
Who What Why Series | Endorsements
“Charming, engaging, wholly absorbing! Danika makes Martin Luther come alive for children! Their senses awakened by Danika’s keen understanding of children, they will see, hear, smell, and come deeply to know and appreciate the great German Reformer in fresh new ways—and so will their parents!” Douglas Bond, Author of Luther in Love and numerous other successful books
“Danika Cooley gives us an engaging look into the world of the reformation with her Who, What, Why series. Her readers will find her books entertaining as well as helpful as she introduces them to all the important people, places and events. Throughout this series, children will be able see the hand of God in history.” Linda Finlayson, Author of God’s Timeline and God’s Bible Timeline
“Danika has done it again! Built on the foundation of God’s command to love our neighbors as ourselves, in her Who, What, Why series, Danika comprehensively explores the tragic history of slavery throughout time and throughout the world. It’s a sad history, but also a hopeful one, with God’s gracious promise ultimately to set captives free.” Douglas Bond, Author of over 30 books, including War in the Wasteland and The Resistance
“Danika Cooley has hit the mark with this series. Slavery is an ugly topic, but the stories of the Christian responses to the evil allow hope to shine through. Readers will learn a lot of history, but more importantly they will learn what it means to put the Gospel into action. A series well worth reading.” Linda Finlayson, Author of God’s Timeline and God’s Bible Timeline
“I love the effort that Danika Cooley makes in this book to simplify and bring the short stories of several people who fought against slavery and slave trading to the attention of a new generation of young people.” Conrad Mbewe, Pastor of Kabwata Baptist Church in Kabwata, Zambia; Founding Chancellor of African Christian University in Lusaka, Zambia
“Young people need to read this captivating history that Cooley weaves together. It will enable them to see what it means to practically love their neighbours in a cruel world.” Conrad Mbewe, Pastor of Kabwata Baptist Church in Kabwata, Zambia; Founding Chancellor of African Christian University in Lusaka, Zambia (UGRR)
“Danika Cooley illustrates for us that the biblical truth that all human beings are made in the image of God is revolutionary. … May young people reading this book go on to be reformers in areas that need the light of God today!” Conrad Mbewe, Pastor of Kabwata Baptist Church in Kabwata, Zambia; Founding Chancellor of African Christian University in Lusaka, Zambia
The Reformation Church
The Reformation was an important time in both the history of the Christian Church, and in global history.
God used his Word, new technology, and faithful believers to bring people to the truth of Scripture. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ alone. Scripture alone is our authority–not the word of councils or popes. We live our lives and do all things to the glory of God alone.
Teach your kids about the Reformation Church with fun narrative and important biblical truth through the Who What Why series from Danika Cooley and Christian Focus Publications.
Who Was Martin Luther?
Martin Luther was a young man who was afraid of a thunderstorm. He was a monk seeking for salvation. He was a reformer who inspired a continent to return to the Word of God. Introduce your 8–11 year olds to this key figure in the Reformation.
Sometimes the people who change the world come from the most unlikely of places. Places like a little town in a little country no one paid much attention to at the time. Often the people who change the course of history are not all that important seeming until you look back and see what it is they really did with their lives.
Who Was Martin Luther?, Danika Cooley (Christian Focus Publications, 2021), page 9
What Was the Gutenberg Bible?
Johann Gutenberg invented a world–changing machine that meant people could read God’s Word for themselves. The world could share ideas, discoveries, and news. God’s Word could be quickly, inexpensively and accurately reproduced. Help your 8–11 year–olds discover how the printing press paved the way for the Reformation.
Just fifty years after twelve Death Ships pulled into the harbor in Sicily, and a decade after an English professor secretly translated Latin words into English, a man named after his house defied all odds and created a machine that would spread words across the world like dandelion seeds. The interesting thing about history is it is like a line of dominoes standing on end. Every event is a result of things that happened before. Once things happen, they impact what comes next–just like dominoes knocking each other over.
What Was the Gutenberg Bible?, Danika Cooley (Christian Focus Publications, 2021), page 6
Why Did the Reformation Happen?
The Church was following the words of men rather than the Word of God but brave men read God’s Word and were saved from their sins. They fought for truth against the most powerful organizations of the time – the Church and the Crown. Help your 8-11 year olds explore how God’s people changed the Church, Europe and the World. This is the story of how the Church found the gospel and the people heard about Christ.
Lost things, once they are forgotten, can be hard to find again. Have you ever cleaned the back corner of your closet, only to find something you once dearly loved? Maybe it was your favorite shirt and now you are too big to wear it.
Alas–that’s a word which means oh no!–just over five hundred years ago, God’s people lost his Word to us.
Why Did the Reformation Happen?, Danika Cooley (Christian Focus Publications, 2021), page 6
The Modern Church
In Christian history, the Modern Church has faced turbulence, growth, and reformation. The Modern Church has seen the rise of missions and evangelism. It has experienced brutal wars and oppressive regimes. The Modern Church, too, saw the rise–and fought for the end–of chattel slavery.
During the time of abolition, many Christians chose to glorify God by loving their neighbors as themselves. Believers searched Scripture to find what the Lord has to say about his creation. All humans are made in the image of God. We are to love and care for others. Through the preaching and teaching of God’s Word, many Christians learned to sacrifice on behalf of those in need.
Teach your kids about the Modern Church with fun narrative and important biblical truth through the Who What Why series from Danika Cooley and Christian Focus Publications.
Who Were the Abolitionists?
The abolitionists were a group of people who wanted to get rid of (abolish) slavery. This book will tell you about some of them. They came from different places and had different stories, and God called them to serve him in different ways. But they each worked to make sure that a human being, made in the image of God, could not be owned by someone else.
Included are profiles of:
- Granville Sharp
- Phillis Wheatley
- Olaudah Equiano
- Thomas Clarkson
- William Wilberforce
- Zachary Macaulay
- William Knibb
- Sojourner Truth
- Frederick Douglass
- Harriet Tubman
Courageous people do not usually intend to be brave. Instead, God’s people use the gifts he gives them to glorify God and to serve others. As we look back upon the lives of people in the past, we see how God orchestrates every event to help his children grow in character and to accomplish a specific role in his story of the world.
Who Were the Abolitionists?, Danika Cooley (Christian Focus Publications, 2023), page 6
What Was the Underground Railroad?
The Underground Railroad was a secret system through which runaway slaves could escape to freedom. Abolitionists hid fugitives in their houses during the day and sent them to another home at night. These safehouses became known as stations, the people who helped were station masters and conductors, and the paths people took to freedom were lines. Learn the stories of some of the people who escaped slavery this way, and the people who ran the Underground Railroad.
Have you ever taken a ride on a train? It can be a lot of fun. You board the train at the station, then enjoy the countryside as you race along the line. You disembark right where you intend to arrive.
Taking a ride on the Underground Railroad was a little different.
What Was the Underground Railroad?, Danika Cooley (Christian Focus Publications, 2023), page 16
Why Did Slavery End?
Slavery has been around for a long time. In the Bible, Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, and the Israelites were slaves in Egypt until God freed them. Even much more recently, people were kidnapped and made to work. For a while, Christians ignored that slavery is wrong and pretended that enslaved people were not their neighbors. But a lot of Christians realized they were wrong, and between 1688 and 1888 AD there was a big fight to put a stop to slavery. This is the story of these Christians who loved their neighbors and how they fought to free them.
Have you ever ignored a dirty sock on the bathroom floor, stepping around it for days? People do that with sin, too. But sin is much worse than a filthy sock. Sin violates God’s laws and separates us from him. Sin hurts other people–it is the opposite of love.
Why Did Slavery End?, Danika Cooley (Christian Focus Publications, 2023), page 16
Who What Why Series | Media
“If you haven’t yet included Christian history in your curriculum lineup, or even if you have, I have a treat for you. I’m interviewing Danika Cooley today about her new book series Who What Why. She explains why it’s more important than ever to introduce our kids to Christian history.” – Dr. Melanie Wilson, The Homeschool Sanity Show
Who What Why Series | Reviews
“I LOVE the new Who, What, Why? series by Danika Cooley! These are great learning resources leading up to Reformation Day (Oct. 31) or anytime of year! They’re engaging for all ages with rich theology, interesting biographies, and great church history. The illustrations are lovely and I really appreciate the beautiful way the book presents the good news of Jesus Christ. Highly recommend! We left today for a big road trip and my oldest daughter asked to bring them with. ❤️” – Tauna Meyer, Proverbial Homemaker
“If it sounds a little intimidating to teach your kids about something as important as the Reformation, then you’ll love the new Who What Why Series by Danika Cooley. Her books will provide the jumping-off point of great discussions and further study with your 9-11 year olds. The series includes three books that all work together to tell the story of the Reformation.” – Abby Banks, 4 One More
“My favorite thing about these books is her writing style. It feels as if I am listening in as she tells her kids stories. It really feels so sweet and endearing. You can feel a warm affection and silliness from her as the reader. I absolutely love it!” – Joy Wendling, Created to Play
“I absolutely LOVE this series! Not just because it’s written by a fellow Reformed Believer, but the fact that it makes learning about the Reformation easy for kids. It’s a great chapter book for my 7-year-old to read on her own and it’s a great read-aloud for me to read to my 4 and 5-year-olds. I love the fact that we can learn about the Reformation as a family!” – Kimberly Steenbergen, A Family Devoted
“The book Who Was Martin Luther? taught me so much about the man Martin Luther and his life, but also about different events that were happening during his lifetime. It’s a very easy book to read with short chapters and fun illustrations sprinkled throughout. I love the main focus of teaching kids about Christian history and understanding the struggles that Martin Luther went through that led to the Protestant Reformation. I like how Danika didn’t paint Luther as infallible, but as a man who sinned until the day he died, just like all of us do, but was still saved through God’s grace alone, through Jesus Christ.” – Gena Mayo, I Choose Joy (Who Was Martin Luther?)
“I loved this book! I learned a ton of information I didn’t know, and my kids did too. I appreciated how the author brought history to life, connected church and world events, and loaded the pages with action. I highly recommend the book and can’t wait to read the rest of the series. – Katie J. Trent, Grow Your Faith (Who Was Martin Luther?)
“I also love the way Cooley gently and effortlessly points us to the Gospel time and time again using appropriate Scripture. This is especially true as she seeks to correct the poor theology of the church at the time. No one can walk away from this book without hearing the Good News of Jesus.” – Joy Wendling, Created to Play (Who Was Martin Luther?)
“With history and humor, Danika upholds the inerrancy of scripture and presents a simple Gospel message, while telling the story of the life of Martin Luther. A must have for your student’s history library! Excellent!” – Annette Berry Breedlove, In All You Do (Who Was Martin Luther?)
“As a Christian mom who has only more recently been growing in my relationship with Christ and studying the Bible, I’m amazed at what I continue to learn. I’m excited to pass the knowledge to my kids. I hadn’t known or realized the corruption in the church that went on leading up to the Reformation, or many of the other things I learned from this book. …So far, all of Danika’s products I have used have been valuable tools in our homeschool and my personal walk, and I’m looking forward to checking out these other two books in this series.” – Sara Radginski, Blessed Homeschool (Who Was Martin Luther?)
“I was SO excited when I learned about the new Who What Why books from Danika Cooley!! We’re learning all about Martin Luther, the Gutenberg Bible, and the Reformation. Guys, they’re so good!!” – Christine Zell, This Bit of Life
“This book is great as a read-aloud because adults will like it along with the kids you’re reading it to. What will you learn? The Death Ships, Jan Hus, John Wycliffe, the town where Johann Gutenberg lived, who wrote the Bible, different ways paper was made, others who created a similar printing press to Gutenberg’s, scribes, Gutenberg’s loans and how he lost access to his business by going into debt, the Gutenberg Bible, and much more!” – Gena Mayo, I Choose Joy (What Was the Gutenberg Bible?)
“Not just about the Bible, but the man Johann Gutenberg and his life around the invention and perfection of his press. The little trinkets of history intertwined are sure to delight! Great for students and parents alike!” – Annette Berry Breedlove, In All You Do (What Was the Gutenberg Bible?)
“I loved the simplicity of this book. It is packed with interesting information, fun facts, and tons of action to keep your kids (and you) turning pages! It’s perfect for family read alouds or for your middle grade (aged 8-11) student to read on their own. I highly recommend it!” – Katie J. Trent, Grow Your Faith (What Was the Gutenberg Bible?)
“Cooley writes in a way that reminds us God is the hero and he is the one who wanted his Word in the hands of the people. God is the one who put people and events in order for the printing press to come about. God is the one who funded the project. He is the hero, but, as often happens, God chose to use sinful, broken people to do his work.” – Joy Wendling, Created to Play (What Was the Gutenberg Bible?)
“Danika writes, “That’s the whole reason the Reformation happened. The Good News of Jesus Christ was lost and then it was found.” If this is what you want to know, you’ll find it here in Why Did the Reformation Happen? She explains about the 5 Latin phrases of the Protestant Reformation (which lasted over 300 years!): sola Scriptura, solus Christus, sola gratia, sola fide, and soli Deo gloria. We learn about what’s so special and important about the Bible and why we need to read it in our own language. We also learn about who Christ is and why He’s who we need to know.” – Gena Mayo, I Choose Joy (Why Did the Reformation Happen?)
“There is so much church history packed into these fun pages! The information is laid out perfectly for your homeschool studies. It is packed with interesting history, fun facts, and tons of action to keep your kids (and you) turning pages! I loved learning about so many heroes of the faith in a succinct way that flows from page to page. Why Did the Reformation Happen? is perfect for family read alouds or for your middle grade (aged 8-11) student to read on their own. I highly recommend it!” – Katie J. Trent, Grow Your Faith (Why Did the Reformation Happen?)
“I didn’t know so many people had to fight for Christianity. It was really interesting and I loved all the pictures. I liked that the chapters were short and there was more info on things I had already heard about too. I can’t wait to read her other books.” – Kendra Jo (age 8), Grow Your Faith (Why Did the Reformation Happen?)
“I love the way she describes the Five Solas of the Reformation as “Five Slogans” and uses them as an outline for the book. Cooley does such a remarkable job of showing the way God worked through many events and people to draw his people back to himself through his Word.” – Joy Wendling, Created to Play (Why Did the Reformation Happen?)
“An appropriate history lesson for a day like today when mans words are yet again added alongside the Bible and even trusted more than God’s words. Bless your children and your family through a renewed passion for the truths of God and His word!” – Annette Berry Breedlove, In All You Do (Why Did the Reformation Happen?)
“This series comprises brief chapter books geared towards students that are eight to eleven years old. The books are informative but engaging and sometimes humorous. I think that younger students could enjoy them and learn from them through a family read-aloud. …The Who, What, Why series is a significant addition to any protestant family’s library. It can be used for teaching church history, geography, family read-aloud, and literature studies. If, like many adults, you feel you need to learn more about the Reformation and church history, you can learn right alongside your children.” – Dawn Peluso, Schoolin’ Swag (Reformation Set)
“Danika’s writing is delightful, and kids will love all the sprinkled-in fun facts. I enjoyed the illustrations and helpful timeline at the end of the book. I love the way Danika has shared the Gospel in all three books in this series.” – Amanda Miller, Pastor’s Wife, Missionary, Mother of Four (Reformation Set)
“We had read the previous 3 books that Danika Cooley released, so we were pumped to get these new books! I love that they’re from a Christian perspective and that my children can learn history in a fun way. We’re studying the Civil War time period in our homeschool, so what perfect timing to get books on the Underground Railroad, Abolitionists, and Why Slavery Ended. She does such a great job of storytelling and points our children to the Bible inside of the stories. What a treat! We can’t wait to see what series of 3 she comes up with next!” – Christine Zell, This Bit of Life (Abolition Set)
“What an excellent book! I love that I can read the stories of Christian abolitionists — some I knew about and some I hadn’t heard of yet — to my children, all while pointing them to the gospel of Christ. These stories are age-appropriate, engaging, and incredibly inspiring as they highlight the heart of God and His providence. I found myself brought to tears several times and praising the Lord for these incredible examples of courage and faith.” – Tauna Meyer, Proverbial Homemaker (Who Were the Abolitionists?)
“I was primarily interested in this book for my kids, but within 10 minutes of browsing through it myself I had already learned a lot for myself. It’s fascinating, humbling, and encouraging to look back at the past and see how God has used many of his people to fight against the horrific evils of slavery. The chapters are short and succinct enough for a child’s attention span, but also PACKED with information about people and events from history that will leave adults saying, ‘Wow! I didn’t know THAT!'” – Nathan Hamilton (Who Were the Abolitionists?)
“I love that the book is faith-focused. The author paints a picture that helps our kids see God working in and through ordinary individuals in an extraordinary way. I also appreciated how simple and engaging the books were. The biographies shared important details without losing kids’ attention. Throughout the stories, kids gain a better understanding of how the heart of God is portrayed through each of the abolitionists’ actions.” – Katie J. Trent (Who Were the Abolitionists?)
“Danika Cooley brings the stories of ten abolitionists together to show kids that God can use anyone to accomplish His will and change the lives of other people for the better. The abolitionists featured were all different. They were black and white, rich and poor. Some were free and some were enslaved. But Danika shows that just like Queen Esther in the Bible, God used each person where they were, at just the right time, to accomplish His will for the world. I love that Danika not only shares the stories of well-known abolitionists such as William Wilberforce, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Tubman, but also stories of lesser-known abolitionists such as Zachary Macaulay and William Knibb. Whether the gifts God gave each person was an understanding of the law, a way to understand numbers and statistics and share them in understandable ways, the bravery to help enslaved people escape, or something else, He gave each one what they needed to accomplish His will and make a difference in the world. Throughout the stories of the abolitionists, Danika shares Biblical truth that kids can learn from and grow in today, no matter their age or situation. They can learn about what happens when people let their consciences be seared, the importance of prayer and trusting God, and so much more. This is a wonderful book that I would highly recommend to families.” – Bonnie Rose, BonnieRose.com (Who Were the Abolitionists?)
“In Who Were the Abolitionists the author takes you through the lives of 10 well known abolitionists throughout history. She touches the hearts of the believers who fought so hard to end slavery and share the love of Jesus with everyone! In these biographies she highlights the different contributions that each of the abolitionists made throughout their lives as well as their unique stories in the fight to end slavery. I am excited to add this book to our homeschool reading list for history this year.” – Amazon Review (Who Were the Abolitionists?)
“This book is amazing and I can’t wait to read the others in the series. While this book is targeted for children I found them to be well written, educational, and engaging even as an adult. The author painted a vivid historical picture of what the underground railroad was, the struggle of the run away slave fleeing towards freedom, and the heart of the Christian who fiught to abolish slavery. My kids absolutely loved it and we’ve had many conversations about it and I’m sure there will be many more conversations to come.” – Amazon Review (What Was the Underground Railroad?)
“This book paints a beautiful picture of how the Underground Railroad worked and how the brave men and women who loved God took risks to fight against injustice and demonstrated courage to stand against wrongdoing at a governmental level. It also helps our kids understand times when the Bible encourages us to do the same and how to honor God and authority in the midst of those difficult decisions.” – Katie J. Trent (What Was the Underground Railroad?)
“What Was the Underground Railroad? is an inspiring and exciting look at this important part of American history. The book explores much more than just the facts of history, however. After a fascinating story of how the term “Underground Railroad” began, the book tackles the question of whether or not it was right to disobey the government by helping enslaved people escape. Using Biblical examples, Danika Cooley shows how God’s Word consistently shows us that when man’s laws oppose God’s laws, we must obey God rather than men. She also shows how Christians faithfully worked to serve God, love their neighbors, and work to change ungodly laws that were destroying the lives of millions of people. The stories from history and the Biblical truths woven throughout the book are expertly shared in a way that is easy for kids to read and understand. Hard words are explained naturally, in a conversational way so kids don’t feel like they are reading a dictionary’s definition. Danika shares concrete examples and stories that bring the truth to life and challenge kids to live for God, even when it’s hard. It is an incredible book that I highly recommend.” – Bonnie Rose, BonnieRose.com (What Was the Underground Railroad?)
“This staffer greatly enjoyed this book explaining slavery and its institutionalized downfall in the world to elementary and middle grade readers. The recurring theme of loving your neighbor as the second greatest commandment was such a helpful way of explaining why God does not approve of slavery. As the author says “you can’t treat a human soul like both a slave and a brother.” A very helpful resource for parents or teachers who want to help children learn about slavery in a God honoring way that doesn’t dumb down the evil or harm it did.” – Second Presbyterian Church, bookmark.bookstore (Why Did Slavery End?)
“This book dives deep into the root causes of slavery, how it impacted various parts of our world, and how it eventually came to an end. It is comprehensive and engaging. It helps our kids look wrestle with tough questions and see how God worked in and through this time in history.” –Katie J. Trent (What Was the Underground Railroad?)
“As a lover of history, I have read a lot about slavery in America, but I have never read a book like this. Why Did Slavery End? does such an incredible job explaining the global history of slavery, from slavery in the Bible and ancient times through modern history, in a big-picture way that is easy for kids to understand. I appreciate this book’s explanation of how Christians fought to end slavery, and how some Christians falsely claimed that slavery was not a sin. Danika Cooley did an amazing job balancing the extremely difficult topic of slavery with an approach that is appropriate for children but that does not ignore the horrible reality of what chattel slavery was. She writes in an engaging style that is easy to read and that kids can relate to. But this book is so much more than a history book. It includes a closer look at what it means to love your neighbor and care for those in need. It challenges kids to grow in their relationship with God, to live in His strength, to read His Word, and to make a difference every day for Him. I’ve read few books that I believe are as important to share with your kids as Why Did Slavery End?” – Bonnie Rose, BonnieRose.com (Why Did Slavery End?)
“Thank you, Danika, for sharing true, unbiased history and doing so with a Christian worldview and making it relevant to our children today!” – Lynda Ackert (Why Did Slavery End?)
Who What Why Christian History Lapbooks
Continue the Learning | Reformation
You and your child will study:
- The impact of Martin Luther, the Gutenberg Bible, and the Reformation on the Reformation world, on the Church, and on your child’s world.
- The Reformation world. Your child will learn about what it was like to live during the time of the Reformation.
- The people involved in each Christian history story.
- Reformation vocabulary.
- The timeline of each story.
- The geography of each Reformation story.
- Theology: The five Solas, Ephesians 2:1-10, and Isaiah 55:10-11.
Continue the Learning | Abolition
You and your child will study:
- The impact of the abolitionists, the Underground Railroad, and slavery on the modern world, on the Church, and on your child’s world.
- The modern world. Your child will learn about what it was like to live during the time of the abolitionism.
- The people involved in each Christian history story.
- Abolitionist vocabulary.
- The timeline of each story.
- The geography of each abolition story.
- Theology: Mark 12:29b-31a, Esther 4:13a-14, Philemon, what Scripture says about slavery, God constrains sin, imago Dei, God’s justice, and civil disobedience in the Bible.
The Who What Why Series lapbooks will help your child learn and record important facts about Christian history and theology, with visuals they will not forget.
Grab these fun history crafts, too!
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