Book Review: Long Story Short

I love books. If you should walk into our home, you will see floor to ceiling bookcases filled with books of all kinds. There are so many that I have to store some in the garage! We all love to read and we read widely--fiction, non-fiction, biography, fantasy...In some ways, books have become our friends. If you love to read, I hope to have lots of posts about our favorite books. Like a good restaurant you tell your friends about, I hope that this site will be a place that you can find some good books to read to feed your mind, equip your hands or simply just enjoy a good snuggle with your child. Books open the door to rich conversation with your children. Books have been my mentors in motherhood when I have felt alone in the journey.

And so, this week, I wanted to jump-start this section of the website with some of my favorite book reviews in different areas. As often as I can, I will add to posts to the site.

Kicking off our reviews this week is a book that my husband and I have been using in our family devotions called Long Story Short by Marty Machowski (New Growth Press, 2010). (Side note: At this point, I am still researching to see how I might be able to include images of a book's cover while maintaining copyright laws, so I'm playing it safe for now and leaving this out. If you're wondering, the book Dan and the kids are reading is not the one.) This hefty volume is actually the first of a series, with 78 weeks' worth of family devotions. It is probably geared towards school age kids, though you can most certainly include your younger or older children by modifying questions.

This particular volume goes over 78 Old Testament stories chronologically. Each week focuses on one of those Bible stories. There are five days of lessons per week. On the first two days, you read through the biblical account. Discussion questions are included. On day 3, the focus is connecting how the OT story connects to Jesus. Day 4 continues with the biblical account, and Day 5 usually focuses on a passage from Psalms or one of the prophets, as a way of exploring more about what the OT has to say about Jesus or about our salvation.

What we like about the book is that it is very thorough and includes a wide range of stories, not just the familiar ones. With 78 weeks, this book will take you over a year to finish. Of course, you can pick and choose the ones you like. But if you do go through this book as a family, then you will have a very solid grasp of the Old Testament. It is easy to learn along with your kids because the discussion questions are very basic.

On the flip side, with our family with such a wide age spread (age 3 on the young end to age 14 on the older end), we have found it difficult to find a good medium for everyone. It is pretty much over Jonathan's head, while Janna finds it a little too simplistic. We do have to make some modifications.

But what it does save time on is planning a devotional ourselves. Sometimes we didn't quite see the connection he is trying to make or we think the passage says something a little different, so we don't follow the questions. (Yes, you can do that!) When we use the passage as a starter and let the Lord lead us in our discussion, we've been able to have some very good discussions with our kids. And that has been worth it for us. Just know that it is completely okay to modify a book if you do not find that it fits your family's needs.