"Just ONE MORE chapter, Mom....PLLLLEAAAASSSSEEE!!!"
This became a regular plea during the 4 days (yes 4 days) it took to read J. Warner Wallace and Susie Wallace's new book, God's Crime Scene For Kids with my 8-year-old daughter, Dyllan. It took only 4 days because she could. Not. Get. Enough. She fell in love with Jason, Hannah, Daniel, Jasmine, and Detective Jeffries—and loved the challenge of solving the mystery of what they found in Grandma Miri's attic. She excitedly applied the skills she learned from that investigation to the investigation of the origin of the universe.
Remember that old commercial for Kix cereal in which the slogan was first introduced, "Kid tested... Mother approved"? (Here it is in case you were born after 1990.)
It immediately came to mind as my daughter and I read through God's Crime Scene for Kids. As a mother and an apologist, I can't tell you how many cartwheels my heart did when I saw my daughter's careful notes and observations. (Slow-clap and standing ovation for the Wallaces for inspiring my 8-year-old to highlight and define words like causation and evidence!) They captured my girl's imagination, engaged her mind, and taught her not only valuable apologetics but critical thinking skills that she will use for the rest of her life.
The story begins with the same crew from the Wallace's last kids book, Cold Case Christianity for Kids, assembling once again at the Police Junior Cadet Academy to train with the tough but kind Detective Alan Jeffries. This time, they will be solving the case of the mysterious box Jason found in his grandmother's attic. As they solve that mystery, they apply the skills they learn to the mystery surrounding the origin and creation of the universe—who or what caused it to come into existence?
The book is full of charming illustrations drawn by J. Warner Wallace himself, who not only has a history as a successful Los Angeles Cold Case Homicide Detective, but also holds a degree in fine arts from CSU Long Beach. (Fun fact!)
My daughter was introduced to concepts like cosmology, intelligent design, the fine-tuning of the universe, consciousness, and free-will. The Wallaces also weaved in what is referred to in apologetics circles as "the problem of evil."
We discover toward the end of the book that the reason Jason lives with his grandmother is that both of his parents were tragically killed in a car accident. This has left both him and Grandma Miri questioning the goodness of God and His very existence—even revealing that Miri has lost all faith in God as a result. As they discover credible scientific evidence, they begin to understand that real evil does, in fact, exist... which means God, in fact, exists. (You'll have to read the book to learn why.)
I don't want to give too many spoilers, but as a mom, I can tell you that the manner in which the Wallace's handle the problem of pain and evil is masterful, age-appropriate, and meaningful. It was actually my favorite thing about the book.
After reading through the book, we went back and completed the entire interactive experience. (I wish we would have done that as we read through it the first time, but I went with her flow...she was just loving reading through it.) What do I mean by "entire interactive experience"?
Once you get the book, you can go to a special website designed especially to complement the reading. Each chapter is accompanied by an intro video, which features J. Warner Wallace introducing the material, and giving some basic instruction on how to evaluate the evidence. (In the first video, he is wearing his police uniform, which Dyllan thought was "awesome!") There is also an Academy Notebook sheet, a fun activity sheet to complete, and an adult leader guide worksheet for each chapter.
To top it off, there is a customizable graduation certificate your child will be proud to receive when they finish their training and solve the case:
Every day, my daughter and I looked forward to reading the book, watching the videos, and completing the worksheets. It provoked deep conversations about God, initiated some good bonding time, and gave my daughter confidence in what she believes.
I'll let her speak for herself in this mini-interview:
Me: "What was your favorite thing about the book?"
Dyllan: "It's easy to read and there's a lot of hard words. I like all the cadets—they seem nice. I like that in one of the chapters it shows a brain."
Me: "What would you tell other kids about the book?
Dyllan: "There's a case to solve, it's entertaining, and it makes me want to do it over and over. It's inspiring, kind of tricky, scientific, fun to read, the activities are fun, and the pictures are realistic."
Me: "How do you think this book has affected what you believe about God?"
Dyllan: "The universe had a beginning... and no one could make the world except God."
Hearing my daughter connect the beginning of the universe with the existence of God (the cosmological argument) made this mom's heart so happy. Thank you J. Warner and Susie Wallace for crafting this tremendous resource!
God's Crime Scene For Kids: Kid tested...Mother approved.
[I received a complimentary copy of God's Crime Scene for Kids in exchange for my honest review]
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