The Apologetics Press Readers are divided into three series. They have an emphasis on God as creator, and the goal of informing children early on about the arguments in the creation vs. evolution debate.
How They Work:
The first, the Learn to Read series for ages 3-6, features easy sight words and repetition. They are simply illustrated with full color photographs, and are all comprised of science facts interspersed with the repeated phrase "God made" and all ending with the sentence "God is good."
The Early Reader series is for K-2nd, and follows the same line as the Learn to Read series. It has more advanced vocabulary, and continues with the frequent repetition of "God made" and "God given." The photographs are clean and well-designed.
The Advanced Reader series for 2nd-3rd grade features well-designed full page, full color photo spreads and more advanced vocabulary. The text is interspersed with Bible verses, the repetition of "God given" and "God designed."
Our Honest Opinion:
On one level, we really like these. They are beautifully crafted, with lovely photographs and engaging text. While many early readers are rather boring, these are actually inviting for young students. We have no issues with the Learn to Read series, and their funny rhyming, clever scenarios, and cartoony characters that accompany the photographs will be sure to please. For the most part, the Early Reader series is good too, with a balance of text and photographs that is appealing. Occasionally, however, these will describe certain animals in a way that disappointed us. For example, at one point in God Made the World, author Kyle Butt discusses the size and appearance of birds and says this: "Some birds are small and pretty, like this [white] hummingbird. Other birds are big and not very pretty, like this [black] ground hornbill." It's subtle opinion, but we'd rather see the text encouraging kids to see the beauty in all creatures, and feel this could be groundwork for inappropriate discrimination in other subjects.
We have the most issues with the Advanced Readers, which repeatedly state that certain facts are things that "evolution cannot explain" or that "defy the false theory of evolution." While these facts do exist, the claims in these books are often misrepresentations of what evolutionists actually believe, or they are based on outdated scientific theories.
For example, the book Amazing Teeth Designed by God claims that "evolutionists are baffled" (but doesn't state why) by how the Komodo dragon has the ability to kill prey with the bacteria in its mouth rather than venom. The only problem? Recent studies (and the discovery that Komodo dragons do in fact have venom glands) have thrown that scientific fact into dispute. Does this also throw God's role as creator of the Komodo dragon into dispute? Of course not. But someone who had accepted this flawed fact as evidence for God and against evolution is going to have to confront that issue.
The books' almost painful oversimplification of the evolution vs. creationism debate is not helpful for young readers. Apologetics Press wants young Christians to have a good grounding in evidence for creationism, but part of that starts with accurately representing the other side. When Christians learn to have confidence in refuting points that are not really issues they will be at a loss to defend their beliefs when they come up against actual arguments.
Perhaps saddest of all is the fact that the glory of God's creation is seen as a means to an end. In one of the books its stated that science facts are merely "tools we can use to tell others about our Creator." Readers of these readers will no doubt learn science facts with a Biblical grounding. But it's a pity that they aren't fully allowed to enjoy God's creation on its own merits, apart from its ability to score points in the evolution debate.
Review by Lauren Shearer
Lauren Shearer writes words for fun and profit. She also makes films, but everyone knows you can't make a profit doing that. Her other hobby is consistently volunteering way too much of her time. You can read more of her reviews here.
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