Children's Non-Fiction

Children’s Book Review: Reformation ABCs by Stephen J. Nichols

ReformationABCReviewReformation ABCs is a fun way for kids to learn about the places, things, events, people, books, and ideas that shaped this pivotal time in church history. Through whimsical illustrations and engaging storytelling, this book teaches kids that even though the Reformation occurred five hundred years ago, it isn’t just about people and places in the past. The Reformers’ fight to reclaim the gospel is still relevant today.

My Thoughts

We have two young children who attend public school. This places the responsibility of educating them about history—as it pertains to our faith—squarely on our shoulders. Given that 2017 marks the 500 year anniversary of the Reformation, I’ve been searching for resources to help me introduce our children to the “who” and “why” of this pivotal time in church history. Reformation ABCs does this in a clear, concise, and kid-friendly manner.

In addition to Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli, brief biographies of Kirk, Vermigli, Ussher, and other lesser-known individuals are recounted alphabetically. By including people and places from various corners of Europe, the author draws attention to the scope of the Protestant Reformation. Furthermore, he makes a point of telling kids it’s not over: “You are the next Reformer.”

The team of Stephen J. Nichols and Ned Bustard are adept at engaging a young readership. Nichols accomplishes this by including the choicest, most fascinating, historical details in each of his single page summaries. Bustard complements his writing with a visually appealing blend of buggy-eyed illustrations, photography, and humor. While I initially balked at the lack of dates in the body of the text, I now see how the colorful timeline on the last page is more effective at depicting how the lives of the Reformers overlapped.

One final note to parents: do not be deceived by the simplicity of the title. This is a complex book, well-suited for independent readers with approximately a 3rd grade reading level. Children will encounter full pages of text, with words and terminology which may be unfamiliar to them (e.g., nonconformists, persecution, martyr, commemorate). For this reason, I would advise parents do an initial read through with their child to provide any needed clarification.

I received a free copy of this book from Crossway for the purpose of this review. A favorable review was not required of me and all opinions expressed are my own.


Some of my favorite quotes were:

[in regards to Indulgences] “Jesus paid for our sins with his own precious blood. Jesus kept the law, atoned for sin, and satisfied God’s wrath. He did it all. We can’t buy forgiveness.”

[Martin the Monk] did have to stand trial for his faith. … But he was standing on God’s Word. Confident in God and God’s message, Luther boldly declared, “Here I stand.”

[Sixteenth Century, quoting Michelangelo] “God creates. The rest of us just copy.” He also wrote that “grace cannot be purchased,” during the strife over indulgences.

[Westminster] “Whether you are a pastor, a king, a solider, a poet, an artist or a scientist—whatever you do—you can do everything glorifying and enjoying God forever.




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