Harking back to the 1960s and 1970s when my parents homeschooled me, I remember the secular curriculum they used in my grade school years. Between 1900 and 1960, the schools had purged all reference to God out of the children’s reading material. The chief educator in America, John Dewey, had managed to work his secular humanist ideologies into the curriculum over many years. By 1960, American public education had been entirely secularized.
The children’s literature at the time was considered “wholesome.” That means there was no swearing, no deviant sexuality, and no inappropriate consumption of alcohol and drugs included in the stories. The children’s literature was moralistic, but it wasn’t God’s law and love for God that was the basis for the ethics. The people in the stories were nice, but they didn’t fear God. People did wrong things occasionally, but they didn’t need to get right with God. Salvation from bad things came by man, and there was no need for salvation from God.
For a while, I remember I would “get lost” in the stories. The names of the characters were Dick and Jane, Alice and Jerry, Frank and Joe Hardy, Nancy Drew, and others. There was no God, no sin, no prominent churches in the communities, and no need for Christ. It was a wonderfully nice world, separate from the reality of a loving and just God. There was such a contrast between my world and the stories I read. My world was much more difficult; not so “nice.” The stories carried a different narrative, a very different worldview than that which Scripture teaches.
I was tempted by this other world. But, thank God He helped me to see the right narrative by faithful discipleship on the part of my parents!
Over the years, my wife and I have searched high and low for materials that keep God at the center, Christ preeminent, and the Scriptures as the foundation of our home. Last year, I spent four months pouring over translations of the classic Christian children’s book Heidi. Most of the translations had purged elements of the Christian material. In some cases, I had to refer back to the original German in order to produce a renewed Christian edition of this second most popular children’s book of all time. We’ve made this new edition available as a standalone book, and you can study it with your children using our Great Christian Stories for Children literature course! Heidi is just one example of the classic stories we’ve republished for the purpose of discipling the next generation.
Let me share with you an example of how Heidi can be used as a discipleship tool. In order to make Heidi more useful as a read-aloud book for Christian families, I produced a summary of the key lessons that can be learned in each chapter. Check out the lessons from the first chapter:
CHAPTER 1 LESSONS
1. For five years, Deta has cared for the orphan Heidi. This is the pure religion spoken of in James 1:27. God wants us to take care of the orphans in our churches and communities. 2. After losing his son and his son’s wife, the grandfather went up to the mountain, a bitter man. There he lived “at enmity with God and man.” He was upset with God for the things that happened to him. Peter told Simon in Acts 8: “Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity” (Acts 8:22-23). These words apply to the Alm Uncle in this story. 3. Grandfather was not believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. He had not repented of his sin. He had lived a rebellious life. He had been disobedient to his parents. And he did not want to attend church.
Literature study shouldn’t be dry and boring. It should draw out the meaning in biblical terms for the benefit of our children. This is one of the ways the Generations curriculum team is seeking to re-Christianize the study of literature for the next generation.
When it comes to history, the Generations curriculum team has a similar goal. In particular, I want our children to understand what Jesus has done to transform the world. I want them to know that Christ has been a factor in history—the major factor in the last 2,000 years of world history. That’s certainly not what I was taught using traditional history books!
For many years, history for me was presented as a set of random facts, dates, and events. There was no central thread presented to me—even in Christian curriculum. God was not sovereign. There was no reference to God’s hand in every event; but there should be! When God enters history, we begin to see purpose in it. God is doing something in history. Jesus is building His church. These are big take-aways from history. I wanted 500 references to God in the history book. I didn’t want a random Bible verse sprinkled into the curriculum, just to make it “feel” Christian.
I wanted to see God. I wanted to see His hand in everything. I wanted to know that God is relevant, God is great, God is involved, and God is to be praised in all things. Godless education, godless literature, and godless history curriculum predominates today. There is a worldview that is being subtly communicated through the children’s books you keep on your shelves. Are you indoctrinating your children in the wrong worldview through the reading books and the curriculum you use?
In 2019, we released our 6th Grade Core Curriculum pack. For the History track in this package, we produced a course titled Experiencing Christian History Through the Ages. The student is guided through a brief survey of Christian history on the continent of Europe. The team asked the question: "If we are surveying the last 2,000 years of history in Europe, what stories should be told that demonstrate Jesus Christ’s preeminence?" We ended up with a fascinating blend of often neglected stories including the first missionaries to Britain, the writings of the Venerable Bede, the life of Alfred the Great, the Waldensian movement, The French Huguenots, and the life of Pierre Viret. These are just a few of the unique stories told in Experiencing Christian History. Accompanying those stories, retold at a simple level for 5th-7th graders, are three excellent historical-fiction novels by Douglas Bond. The student encounters Christ’s preeminence in the history of Europe through brief historical summaries and the captivating stories of Douglas Bond, enabling the student to experience different historical periods in a new way.
Over the last hundred years, trillions of dollars have been spent on curriculum largely absent of Christ and absent of God’s Word. I want to apply equal effort in bringing the Lord back into the nurture of our children, into their study of Literature and History. That’s what drives me and the curriculum team at Generations. Be sure to take a look at our recent efforts in the 6th Grade curriculum package!
“Fathers. . .bring your children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)