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The Bible Tells Me So: A Year of Catechizing Directly from Scripture Paperback – May 14, 2012
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About the Author
Christian LeBlanc is a revert whose pre-Vatican II childhood was spent in South Louisiana, where he marinated in a Catholic universe and acquired a Catholic imagination. During his middle school years in South Carolina, Christian was catechized under the benevolent dictatorship of Sister Mary Alphonsus, who frequently admonished him using the nickname "Little Pagan." After four years of teaching Adult Ed and RCIA, he returned to Sr. Alphonsus' old classroom to teach Catechism himself. Married to Janet, the LeBlancs have five children and two grandsons. Christian and Janet belong to St. Mary's Parish in Greenville, South Carolina. Christian posts regularly at the Amazing Catechists and New Evangelizers websites; and at his blog, Smaller Manhattans.
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However, I needed a religion program to use with my homeschooled kids, and I decided to give the book a try. Am I ever glad I did!
First off, the book is written as a conversation: questions and answers in a somewhat rambling style (that is the part I was not expecting).
I thought it would be hard to use, but in reality it is very easy to use. I read aloud from it, and it's very easy to follow the text. I am amazed how often my kids come up with some of the same answers and comments as the kids in the book.
Second, this book is just fun. How many religious ed texts can you say that about? We laugh and talk and ponder our way through each lesson. My children enjoy this program, and it makes us think. That is huge!
Third: this book is text only, but within the text there are instructions for demonstrations and drawings that tie the information together and keep things interesting. I really like that we are also looking at religious art (specific works are given by name, and I just locate them on line for us to look at). This type of teaching style is great for all kinds of learners.
I am finding that it helps for me to skim through each chapter beforehand to see what is coming up and what materials I might need to gather (just stuff around the house). Otherwise, there is very little prep work for me. I assign my kids chapters of the Bible to read before each lesson as preparation, and off we go.
Really, I am so thankful that I purchased this book and gave it a try despite my initial misgivings. Sometimes God sends us what we need, not what we think we want. I hope the author will go on to write more!
What it is: Starting at the beginning of the school year in Genesis, Christian takes you through a year-long Bible History course designed for 6th graders. It is as if you are sitting in the classroom, hearing him teach the kids. The focus is on the major events of the Bible, and how the Catholic faith is found in Scripture. Though the primary emphasis is on salvation history and sacramental theology, he weaves in observations about the Theology of the Body, the sanctity of marriage, and apologetics, among other topics.
Who would benefit: Anyone who wants to understand the Bible better. Not just read the passage (and, let's be honest, sometimes scratch your head), but understand the bigger picture. How does the whole of the Bible fit together into a single work, what does it tell us about God, and how does it relate to our Christian faith today?
This is also an excellent resource for catechists and other teachers, because the class-time format let's you see not just *what* to teach, but *how* to teach. Christian offers a few comments on teaching methods as well -- what works, what to avoid -- very useful for teachers.
Readability: No problem. Very comfortable reading level, suitable for middle school and up. Loaded with substantial details and insights, so of interest for any adult. I'd recommend it for someone wishing to learn about the Bible and the Catholic faith as a beginner, but also for those of us who know both pretty well, but can use a refresher that puts the whole big picture in one place, and points out a few connections you may have missed on previous readings.
I'll also add that the style is very enjoyable -- fun to read, lots of humor. Highly recommended.
Observation about it's use: Although I read it this summer, I'll be pulling it out again this school year and next. My oldest is doing a Bible History class for school, and so my husband and I are going to read through the Bible with the kids at the same time. We'll be consulting Christian LeBlanc's book as we go. Just an excellent resource. Nothing else out there like it.
From a Catholic perspective we loved it for RCIA because it makes some many crucial connections with the OT, NT and key Church teachings - we simply have begun combining 3-4 lessons in the book to make 1 RCIA class.