Who doesn’t love a good mystery? Especially if that mystery also involves apologetics, like the book we have been reviewing. It’s called Forensic Faith for Kids and was written by the well-respected J. Warner Wallace and Susie Wallace (published by David C Cook). They have created supplementary materials online at Case Makers Academy, which I’ll discuss further down in this review.
J. Warner is a former cold case detective and he uses his investigative skills to not only give insight into how a real detective works a case, but also how kids can make a case for Jesus being the son of God. The book strongly relays the premise of being prepared to defend one’s faith under any circumstance that may arise. I wholeheartedly believe this to be a good skill for Christian children to learn from the beginning, because many adults still struggle with this.
So I had a lot of issues come up during this review period so I first want to admit that I did not give this my full attention the way I normally would. I also somehow had an idea in my mind of what the book would be like and I was wrong – the text is smaller and the book is longer than I anticipated, so it did not make for a good read aloud. My oldest is only 7 and not reading well enough for something like this, and I do struggle with long read alouds for a variety of reasons so we did not make it very far. My oldest’s interest was piqued but due to health problems leading up to unexpected surgery, and illness for the whole family immediately following that, it compounded the difficulty of doing reviews during this time frame. What I ended up doing was reading as much as I could by myself and showing them a few of the videos found at Case Makers Academy.
About the Book: Forensic Faith for Kids
It is a good read! It is about a group of kids going through the Junior Detective Academy at their local police department with an experienced detective (named after the real detective who mentored the author long ago). They learn not only how to investigate crimes but also about God and their faith.
The story begins with a group of the kids doing a car wash fundraiser when a Corgi puppy appears at their feet out of nowhere. They then put their detective skills to the test trying to figure out where she came from and to whom she belongs.
In addition, one of the girls in the story is troubled by two of her friends who are questioning if Jesus is God’s son. The problem is that she is unable to explain why she believes that to be the Truth! So she, too, is mentored by the detective to help her to be able to defend the deity of Jesus to her questioning friends. Along the way, we as readers are taught how to do this ourselves.
Throughout the book there are small boxes with different activities or stopping points to help kids think critically and use their Bibles. These often relate to detective work but are ultimately used to help children understand the Gospel message. I feel this is a really good way to get kids to think and understand what is often a difficult topic to comprehend.
There are also black and white drawings throughout to break up the text. These are of characters talking to one another or illustrating something the detective is explaining. The visuals are a great way to keep kids interested.
I do have a couple of small criticisms that maybe are more just pet peeves of mine. One thing about the book that jumped out is that there are a lot of words that are italicized, which increases the level of difficulty in reading it. If I was struggling a little with this as a seasoned and avid reader of difficult information (i.e., medical studies and technical information), I think kids would struggle with it as well.
In addition, the author personalized the book by adding “you” as a character but we as the readers are still omnipotent and present for conversations held by others, so it makes it confusing when “you” is thrown in there as if the reader is a character among the bunch of kids.
It was a little difficult to determine what ages the kids were, but I’m guessing early teens. I think ultimately the book would be more appropriate for tweens and young teens versus kids who are the age of mine (oldest is 7). To be fair, it is suggested for ages 8 to 12, so I knew mine were on the young end for trying this out.
Case Makers Academy
The authors have also created a website to go along with the book. Case Makers Academy has a short (~ 5 minutes) video for each chapter plus some pdf pages you can print off. These videos are of the author talking about the book, the mysteries in the book, and ways we can connect this into our lives. I really believe the author loves the Lord and genuinely wants to help parents teach their kids about Jesus, God, and how to defend their faith. He appears to be knowledgeable (as evidenced by both the book and the videos) and someone I can trust to help me teach my children. I looked up his author page on Amazon and he is quite accomplished in multiple ways that lend to his credibility. What is presented across all platforms is nothing wishy-washy or lukewarm!
We did not have time to do the included pdf pages but each video has a “training activity sheet,” an “academy notebook sheet,” and a parent/leader guide. The activity sheets look to be geared toward younger children while the academy sheets have fill-in-the-blanks and open-ended questions. The leader guide has suggestions for readings from the kid’s book as well as the corresponding book for adults, a summary of important concepts in the chapter, and suggestions for questions to ask your kids to get them thinking. The kids can make a notebook out of the worksheets and there is a certificate and a badge they can print at the end when they’re done. This is a cute idea and I think tweens in particular would enjoy this!
All in all, this is a great way to teach kids about the deity of Jesus, the nature of God, and how to defend their beliefs to other people. One day they will need to do this and they need to be prepared! My personal belief is that this book and the activities are best for ages 10 and up. We are going to hold onto it for when our kids are a couple years older as I think they will enjoy the mystery and also the supplementary materials that have been made available by the author. He has written several other children’s books along the same lines and I hope to read those with them in the future, too (and some of his books for adults!).
There were over 60 of us on this review, so I hope you’ll check out what the other ladies have to say at the Homeschool Review Crew!