Book Review - Ten Commandments for Children
Reformed Free Publishing Association
The following review was written by Amanda DeBoer on the book The Ten Commandments for Children by Prof. Ron Cammenga (Jenison, MI: Reformed Free Publishing, 2023). This review will be published in the Clarion, a biweekly magazine of the Canadian/American Reformed Church federation, Vol. 72 No. 14, in November 2023.
In today's day and age, where God's law is more and more blatantly disrespected and ignored, it is so important to teach our children God's most wise ways for our lives. The Ten Commandments for Children by Ronald L. Cammenga is an effective resource in this regard. Cammenga not only teaches the commandments, but also explores their depth and practicality in an age appropriate way. He has a kind, yet unwavering, manner of writing that is very appropriate for the topic. The Ten Commandments for Children will undoubtedly be a blessing for many families.
This book has been arranged logically. The first 7 devotionals talk about the commandments in general. This includes topics such as why we have the commandments and knowing our sins. After this, the author spends 2 to 3 devotionals on each commandment. There are 28 devotionals in total.
For each devotional, Cammenga included 5 different sections to work through. One section is called “Let's learn a Bible verse” in which parents and children can read a short Bible verse aloud a few times. The other sections include the devotional, reading another, longer Bible passage, answering questions, and even singing a psalm! Cammenga used the 1912 Presbyterian Psalter for this, but the beauty of our Book of Praise is that it is easy to sing the same psalm. Parents could even look through the psalm suggested and find the stanza that best connects with what was taught in the devotional. It is clear through these sections that Cammenga's desire was for the devotionals to be truthful and God-honoring.
Because some sections go deeper than others, this book could be tailored to each family's need. For those who choose to use it as a bedtime devotional for one child, parents could pick certain sections to work through, based on their child's age and abilities. Since my daughter loves singing before bed, we always included that as part of our devotional routine! Parents could also choose to do all the sections as an addition to family devotions after dinner with multiple children.
Here are a couple comments on some different aspects of the book. First, it was good to see that Cammenga did not shy away from practical examples that may even tickle an adult's conscience, such as how we spend our Sundays. We all can be encouraged through this book in our thankful obedience! Cammenga also did not neglect to use the teachings of the Catechism. In one of the devotionals about the sixth commandment, the author defined what patience, peace, meekness, and kindness are. He also talked about loving our enemies. Does this not drip of Lord's Day 40 q/a 107? What a wonderful way to strengthen the Church-Home connection for our children! Third, since this is a book for children, there are, of course, illustrations. These are tastefully done and modestly presented. For each devotional, the different section titles all have their own colors. “Let's Learn a Bible verse,” for example, is always yellow. In these ways the book is presented attractively to the readers.
Finally, Ronald L. Cammenga is a professor at the Protestant Reformed Theological Seminary. (If you are interested in learning about the CanRC and the PRC, chapter 6 of Inheritance Preserved by W. W. J. VanOene summarizes this relationship.) It is clear from the book that Cammenga is seasoned in teaching children. And he was, being blessed with 11 of his own to raise and teach! Cammenga has nicely, and wisely, come down to a child's level to explain the commandments.
Overall, in the age that we live in, it is very good to have a book for children that teaches the commandments and does not shy away from explaining practically how we should be obeying them. I would recommend this book for children ages 8-10.
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