Book 1 of the History Lives series is full of brave martyrs, famous figures, and early church activity.
Peril and Peace: Chronicles of the Ancient Church (History Lives Series, book 1) by Mindy and Brandon Withrow. CF4Kids, 2005.
Reading Level: Middle grades, ages 10-12
Recommended For: Independent reading for ages 8-10, family read aloud for ages 7 and up.
Beginning with the apostle Paul on his shipwreck and concluding with St. Patrick and St. Benedict, the 500 years covered in this book are full of daring escapes, brave martyrs for the faith, and landmark church councils. The African bishop Augustine, the emperor Constantine, the heroic Polycarp all make appearances. In addition, helpful essays look at worship in the ancient church, how we got the Bible, and other early Christians. The early church operated in a time like no other: it began with those who actually knew Christ or were taught by one of his disciples, stood firmly on key doctrines like the divinity of Jesus, and saw the gospel spread out from Judea and Samaria to the ends of the (known) world.
About the Series: Each title in this five volume series looks at a particular era of the Church. Volume 1 covers the Ancient Church (3 BC- 550 AD), Volume 2 covers the Medieval Church (550-1500 AD), Volume 3 covers the Reformation Church (1500-1700 AD), Volume 4 covers the Awakening Church (1700-1860 AD), and Volume 5 covers the Modern Church (1860 AD to present). Mixing lively introductions of key church history figures with nonfiction essays about significant events in the life of the church at large, this series offers an engaging look at the church throughout history. Timelines, a bibliography of key sources, and dates and locations for each person and event add layers of historical depth. The series is billed as nonfiction, but the stories about individuals mix historical fiction with short biographical paragraphs: each story plunges the reader into the action of an important event in the life of the person before finishing with a paragraph or two that outlines the rest of the character’s life. Essays cover major heresies, creeds, councils, schisms, and such events as the Crusades or the persecution of the early church. An attempt is made to cover more than just the European/American church as well, particularly in the volumes covering more recent history. Overall, this is an excellent introduction to church history for kids and their families that offers both factual information in the essays and a “feel-like-you’re-there” sense in the stories themselves.
Cautions: Violence (martyrdom and violence towards Christians)
Overall Rating: 4.5
Worldview Rating: 5
Artistic Rating: 4
For other Church History reading ideas for kids, see our Church History October list!