Saturday, November 7, 2015

When Lightning Struck: a Book and Unit Study review

I have always been fascinated by the life of Martin Luther.  I'm sure that growing up in the Lutheran Church was a big part of that.  As a kid, though, I would learn bits of his story here, and parts of it there, but I was never exposed to anything truly comprehensive.

I would have absolutely loved When Lightning Struck! The Story of Martin Luther by Danika Cooley.

Book description:
When Lightning Struck! is the story of Martin Luther, the Father of the Reformation, written for young adults.

Martin Luther's life was too exciting not to be written for teens and younger readers! In this fast-paced, action-packed novel of Martin Luther's life, teen readers (and more than a few adults!) will be introduced to a fascinating time when princes ruled Europe and knights roamed the countryside. They'll learn about a time when powerful forces lined up against each other and believing the wrong thing could get you killed.

When Lightning Struck! is far more than just an adventure story, of course. It also tells a theological story. Drawing carefully from Luther's own words, this book introduces readers to a kindred spirit who struggled with what knowing God through Scripture means for daily life. They will understand what was at stake and how powerfully liberating Luther's idea of grace through faith was—in his time and in ours!

In crisp, enjoyable prose, author Danika Cooley conveys both the drama and the meaning of the Reformation for younger readers like no one before her!

This book is intended to work for kids as young as 3rd grade, and it is fascinating for adults too.  With an emphasis on action (see excerpt to the left), the story starts off with the life-changing thunderstorm in 1505 that led Luther to become a monk.  The story then shifts back to his childhood and goes sequentially from there.

We've been using this as a read-aloud with children ages 9 to 18.  It certainly keeps everyone's attention!

The book all by itself is really terrific, but what makes this even more amazing is some of the resources that are available with it.

If you visit Danika's site, you can find a Discussion Guide that is completely free to download.  The Discussion Guide includes a page for every one or two chapters.  The pages are colorful, with a few discussion questions in a box, but there is more than that.  Each page also includes a box with timeline information that covers not only the events talked about in that chapter, but also other major events.  About half of the pages include some type of background information, such as a brief biography of Ulrich Zwingli.  The other half include a mini Bible Study.  The pages also have some sort of artwork.

You can also find a 12-week Unit Study for grades 6-12 that is free for subscribers.  The Unit Study includes the pages from the Discussion Guide, but there is so much more than just that.  A summary page each includes possible assignments for history, science, geography, writing, vocabulary and art.  That is followed by a whole lot of notebooking pages, including a study of an artist and five of his works.  The final page is a copywork page.

We aren't using all of this, but it is nice to be able to pick and choose and add what works in my family.

Bottom line:  If you are studying the Reformation time period, this is a great addition to that study.  If you want to add a bit of church history to your children's lives, this is an awesome choice.  I wouldn't necessarily use the book if my oldest was a 3rd grader, but it has been terrific with my range of kids.  And the study guide has been fantastic for everyone from 4th-12th grades as well.  I think Trina is just used to her materials being a bit over her.

Go.  Get it.

Oh, and go enter the amazing Reformation Day Giveaway.