As the school year comes to a close and the long summer opens up on our horizons, parents may be looking for some Orthodox lessons to share with their children over the break (or at any time when the opportunity presents itself!)
Those of you not involved with Sunday Schools may not be aware of the Greek Archdiocese’s Department of Religious Education and its excellent, extensive catalog.
You’ll find all of the DRE’s textbooks here, as well as a robust selection of alternative curricula and children’s books.
I recommend Elizabeth Jacobs’ beautiful books which interweave Scripture, tradition and crafts in an inherently Orthodox way. In the DRE catalog, you’ll find all three of the courses she has written: So Great a God, Blessed is the Kingdom and Our Return to God I and II.
The DRE also carries the richly illustrated and wonderfully written, The Bible for Young People, which retells Bible Stories with our Orthodox theology interwoven into the language (as opposed to non-Orthodox children’s versions which often weave other heterodox ideas into the text). It’s not a simplified Bible, exactly, but is very nice for reading aloud to elementary-aged children.
Those of us not in the Russian churches may not be aware that there is an old Russian book intended to serve as the definitive textbook of all Orthodox knowledge; it includes everything that parents should teach their children. This is a truly old school textbook, with none of the glossy images or fancy educational techniques of the modern books, but we Orthodox don’t mind looking old fashioned, right? The Law of God is an invaluable resource, and belongs in all of our homes.
So if you’re looking for some books to help pass along the faith, these are good choices. Ultimately, we won’t be able to find everything we need to teach our children in a book, as the faith journey is not about stuffing information into heads, but about inviting our children into relationship — with us, with God, with His Church. The goal is not to teach them all of the Facts of the Faith before age 18, but to inspire them! If we can only ignite a yearning for God, they will embark of a lifetime of learning.