Brian Najapfour and Sarah Najapfour. Amazing Grace. Grand Rapids: Biblical Spirituality Press, 2018. 41 pages. Paperback.
Amazing Grace is the first part of the series called “Stories behind Favorite Hymns for Ages 3 to 6.” This book recounts the story of John Newton and one of his most beloved hymns in an engaging way for children ages three to six. It has a large font with just the right amount of text per page to match the generally short attention spans of this age group. Additionally, the authors seek to retain the listener’s attention by asking simple questions along the way. Although simple enough for this age group, these questions are not simplistic and have the potential to lead to helpful discussions about family, discipleship, companions, rebellion, fear, prayer, God’s forgiveness, and grace. Moreover, these questions may serve to draw listeners into Newton’s story and make him more relatable. Best of all, each of these components leads children on a journey to see themselves, like Newton, as a sinner in need of God’s forgiveness freely offered through Jesus Christ. Amazing Grace paves the way afresh for the Good News of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.
Like many Christian resources, this book seems to summarize the gospel. Its closing pages say, “Do you know what ‘grace’ means? It means God gives us what we don’t deserve. Because we sin, we deserve God’s punishment. But when we believe in Jesus and ask for forgiveness, God forgives and saves us” (39).
While it is essential to believe in Jesus, the question may remain, “What are we to believe about Jesus?” Unfortunately, due to brevity, this didn’t seem as clear as it could be in this book. I would encourage everyone reading this book to go one step further with their kids and read 1 Corinthians 15:3–4: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” This passage will help present the gospel more clearly to the listener.
The book closes with three suggested questions for discussion, and a fourth would complement these well: “Why can God give sinners grace?” The passage from 1 Corinthians above answers this question well: Because Christ died for the sins of all who would believe, and God accepted his sacrifice.
As soon as we finished Amazing Grace, my kids asked me if we had the next book in the series. We thoroughly enjoyed this title, and I am happy to commend this title to you.
Mrs. Elizabeth Hankins is a book reviewer and blogger. She blogs at hankinsfamily.com.