On Barb’s Bookshelf: Geeking Out Over Timelines

Geeking Out Over Timelines

When you’re interested in the study of history, there’s nothing like a timeline to help you get everything in order. Kids, parents, and teachers will all benefit from two new books that give the visual learner (like me) plenty to geek out over: The Great Adventure Catholic Bible and The Church Rocks!

Begin at the Beginning

The Great Adventure Catholic Bible from Ascension Press combines a beautiful Bible with color-coded timelines, a 90-day Bible reading plan (which covers the highlights of salvation history), and guidance on interpreting the Bible, applying Scripture to our lives, and praying with Scripture. The Bible is divided into sections, each of which has a fascinating introduction featuring maps, charts, and historical background:

  • Early World
  • Patriarchs
  • Egypt & Exodus
  • Desert Wanderings
  • Conquest & Judges
  • Royal Kingdom
  • Divided Kingdom
  • Exile
  • Return
  • Maccabean Revolt
  • Messianic Fulfillment
  • The Church

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Each of these sections has its own color, and every page of the Bible has a band of that color to help keep you on track as you read. Key events are marked with a box with extra information at the top of the page and a symbol within the text that corresponds to the box. There are ample footnotes and a mini-concordance at the bottom of each page. Jesus’ words are in red type. Every feature of this Bible is designed to help the reader place events in history, understand their significance, and learn why the message still matters today.

This Bible is colorful without being juvenile and uses the Revised Standard Version – Second Catholic Edition translation. The cover is blue vinyl with gold lettering and an embossed compass logo, and there are even two page-marker ribbons.

The Great Adventure Catholic Bible would make an excellent Confirmation gift. I’m really impressed with all the useful features and historical information.

History and Heritage

Beginning with Pentecost, the “birthday of the Church,” and ending with the New Evangelization, Sister Mary Lea Hill, FSP, has put together a history of the Catholic Church that will appeal to kids, teens, and the adults in their lives.

The Church Rocks! (I see what the author did there) is a century-by-century look at Church history that covers everything from stained glass to saints. It’s clever without being irreverent and definitely takes the “boring” out of historical study, providing a clear sense of time and place to Church events.

Each chapter begins with a timeline that lists major events in that century. In addition to the chapter’s narrative, readers will find an “I Witness” paragraph, written from the point of view of someone from that time period; this will grab the attention of younger readers (grades 3 to 5). Older students (grades 5 and up) will appreciate “More than the Facts,” “Latest and Greatest,” and “On the Record,” all of which offer more information on special topics, events, or important people. For further research, “Mystery of History” suggests topics for study. There’s also a writing prompt, vocabulary builder, and prayer in each chapter. “The Bigger Picture” closes out each chapter by placing that century in historical context and setting up what’s to come in the next century.

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Packed with black-and-white reproductions of famous art from the time, pictures of saints, and a useful index, this book would make a useful classroom tool and will intrigue history buffs of all ages.

Take a peek at the inside of this fascinating book:


Copyright 2018 Barb Szyszkiewicz
Amazon links are included in this post. I received review copies of both these books, but no other compensation, from the publishers. Opinions expressed here are mine.

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On Barb’s Bookshelf: Ignite

Barb's Book shelf blog titleSubtitled “Read the Bible like never before,” Sonja Corbitt and Deacon Harold Burke-Silvers’ book Ignite (Servant Books, 2017) challenges both individuals and groups to try a reading the Bible.

Acknowledging that many faithful people try reading the Bible but are daunted by dry and difficult readings and commentaries, Sonja and Deacon Harold share some strategies that work for them, setting up a Lectio-Divina-based study structure that can include technological resources such as Bible apps, online daily readings, and print or audio resources. They specifically suggest that readers begin with the Gospel reading for the day, which is always available at USCCB.org (simply use the calendar in the right sidebar to navigate to that day’s readings).

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After describing the process of Lectio Divina, address the who, what, where, when, how, and why of the Bible, in separate chapters that go into detail about how the events of the Bible speak to us today.

In encountering God in the Scriptures, we can then consider that the whole Bible is about this same gradual, increasing self-disclosure to a particular race of people just like me: the revelation of a person to persons, like ourselves, who also actually lived in a certain place at a certain time. (18-19)

The last two chapters, “Which Voice is His?” and “The Word is a Person” sum up how reading the Bible will bring us into closer communion with God, addressing both the issue of authority and the need to “read and study the Bible with the heart and mind of the Church” (193).

“The Word of God is a person, not a book,” the authors note (192). Scripture and Tradition, they affirm, go hand in hand.

Both are directed at the life of the Church. Together sacred Scripture and Tradition convey the Word of God. Apart from the living teaching authority of the Catholic Church, we are easily led into serious mistakes and error … (196)

Each chapter ends with a “God Prompt” that invites the reader into a guided exercise of Lectio Divina on a selected passage.

Let Ignite help you dive more deeply into the Word of God.


Copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz
This post contains Amazon affiliate links; your purchase through these links helps support this blog. Thank you! I was given a free review copy of this book, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are mine alone.