This week I want to share a book that our family has been using as an evening read-aloud recently, Grandpa’s Box: Retelling the Biblical Story of Redemption by Starr Meade. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed it!
The concept is fairly simple. Through a series of visits, a grandfather tells his two grandchildren about the overarching story of the bible…God’s plan of redemption. Moving from Genesis to Revelation, each event recounted is told from the perspective of what God was accomplishing and what we can learn about him from that particular story. The “metanarrative” of Scripture – God’s unchanging purpose that runs through the entire Old and New Testament – is emphasized.
“Grandpa’s box” is just that…a box in which he keeps small carved figures that represent people or things in each story. Using dialogue between the two children and their grandfather as they discuss each story, the “dots” are connected and important observations about God’s character and plan are pointed out.
I’ve made it clear in my reviews of the Jesus Storybook Bible and The Big Picture Story Bible that I’m a big fan of presenting the unified theme of the Bible to children rather than simply teaching them a collection of seemingly disconnected stories. This book fits right in to that philosophy, doing for older children essentially what those books do for younger children. It’s perfect for older elementary age and up. It’s especially appealing for boys because the entire story is framed in terms of a spiritual “war” against Satan. This theme is evident in the chapter titles: The Choice of a Soldier (Jacob/Israel), A Foreigner Enlists (Ruth), An Enemy Changes Sides (Naaman), and so on.
“‘But the great thing about this war is that even though it’s so hard and so long and even though the enemy is very powerful, this war is already won. Even the enemy knows that.’
‘An enemy that keeps fighting even when he knows he’s lost? Why would he do that?’ Marc asked.
‘He’s just that filled with hate and with the desire to do all the damage he can,’ Grandpa said. ‘He lost a long time ago, but he doesn’t stop attacking. Sometimes it may look like he’s winning, but he never really is.'”
Here’s an excerpt from the author’s “Note to Parents” that does an excellent job of summing up my thoughts on Biblical instruction for children:
“Bible storytellers usually take one of three approaches. After they tell the story, they may draw a moral from it, much like Aesop did with his fables. Or they may focus on the human ‘hero’ of the story (or, in some cases, the ‘villain’), encouraging children to follow (or avoid) the example that character sets. Or the teller of Bible stories may just present the story as a fact of Bible history and go on to the next one.
I once heard it said that the Bible is like a museum and every part of it shows us another aspect of the wonder of it’s author. We move through it’s pages from one exhibit to the next, marveling at how each new passage adds to our understanding of our great God…every time we read any Bible story, we should ask ourselves, ‘What is God doing in this story? What does this story show me about God?’
I wrote Grandpa’s Box wanting children to see that the main character of every Bible story is, always, God. Every story in Scripture shows us something about God that he wants us to know…the Bible stories really comprise one story. The Bible story describes God’s work of redemption accomplished for and in his people. In this story of redemption, God reveals himself to us.”
I highly recommend Grandpa’s Box for families to read and enjoy together. It’s been a wonderful resource for us and makes an excellent addition to a family’s “toolbox” of Biblical instruction.
Don’t miss the rest of my Family Discipleship series: