New kids’ book, initiative aim to boost Catholic families’ grasp of salvation history

| May 18, 2015 | 0 Comments
Catholic News Service file photo

Catholic News Service file photo

Imagine if every child read the Bible. That’s the goal of four local Catholic women who have spent the last decade preparing a Catholic companion to the Bible for children.

Emily Cavins and three colleagues hope to reach Catholic families with “Gen2Rev Storybook: A Walk through the Catholic Bible,” a book and curriculum designed for guiding grade-school-aged children through Scripture.

The book is designed to help children — and their parents — understand not only the chronology of biblical stories, but also how they reveal salvation history, or God’s relationship with the human race.

“It’s a missing portion of faith formation and the Catholic understanding of the Bible, because [Catholics] never hear it from beginning to end. They hear it in chunks from liturgical seasons and faith formation,” Cavins said. “Our storybook takes all the historical narratives in the Bible and walks you through it from Genesis to Revelation.”

A parishioner of St. Vincent de Paul in Osseo, Cavins developed the book with Lisa Bromschwig, director of religious education and a parishioner at Nativity of Mary, Bloomington; Regina Neville, a parishioner of Our Lady of Grace, Edina, who volunteers at St. Patrick, Edina; and Linda Wandrei, a parishioner of Holy Family, St. Louis Park.

“I know that Catholic children do not read the Bible like Protestant children,” Cavins said. “They hear concepts about the Bible, and they hear the Bible read in Mass, but they don’t pick it up and read it. They don’t have a direct connection to the Bible like non-Catholic Christians.”

Catholic children know the stories but generally can’t articulate their meaning or larger message, Neville added.

“It’s where I think we risk losing the celebration of the Mass, if we sit there and we listen to an Old Testament reading and the Gospel, and not understand that there’s purpose in selecting these two readings and there’s a deeper message,” she said. “We’re missing a lot of what we’ve been given in the Liturgy of the Word.”

Book paired with initiative

Emily Cavins is married to Jeff Cavins, archdiocesan director of evangelization and catechesis and author of “The Great Adventure Bible Timeline,” a Bible study program for adults.

Jeff Cavins plans to use “Gen2Rev” as the basis for a new initiative he’s preparing to launch in the archdiocese this fall. Called Every Child Reads the Bible, it aims to encourage adults to read Scripture to children.

As part of Every Child Reads the Bible, several parishes in the archdiocese are challenging fathers to spend 10 minutes a day reading Scripture to their children. Cavins hopes the initiative will forge a bond between children and their fathers while they learn salvation history together.

“For many fathers, this will be the most meaningful interaction they’ve had with their children,” he said.

The Office of Evangelization is also encouraging grandparents to read the Bible to their grandchildren, he added.

Capturing kids’ hearts

“Gen2Rev” is the first Catholic comprehensive walk through the Bible for children, Jeff Cavins said. “It’s built on the proven methodology of ‘The Great Adventure.’”

“What we’re looking at here is the opportunity to form a generation, rather than losing them and hoping to get them on the rebound,” he said. “It’s absurd that we would bypass a generation and try to get them in high school. They’re gone. Flashy high school programs aren’t going to catch them.”

He added: “Unless you capture them while they’re young, the world will capture them, and you will fight to get them back.”

The book’s authors intend it to be a companion to the Bible, not a replacement for it.

“Our goal is to get parents reading the Bible with the children — not a children’s Bible,” Bromschwig said.

Its authors are self-publishing “Gen2Rev,” expected to be available this summer. The book is the core of a forthcoming catechetical program designed for home or classroom use. Its 24-lesson reading plan is designed to be completed in about six months of regular, but not daily, use, its authors said. They plan to price the book comparably to other children’s Bibles.

In addition to summaries of biblical stories, “Gen2Rev” includes lessons on the biblical basis for Catholic practices.

“This allows you to be a catechist without knowing how,” Emily Cavins said.

The “Gen2Rev” authors launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $15,000 for the book’s printing by June 12.

“We feel very optimistic about the success and relevance of this project,” Emily Cavins wrote on the Kickstarter page. “The risk we see is in not getting it out there, because Catholic families are in need of understanding the story of the Bible.”

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