Jeff Cavins began teaching “The Great Adventure”* many years ago as a way to introduce adult Catholics to the story of salvation history as told through the Bible. He identified the key narrative books in the Bible that convey the essential storyline that flows through the entire Bible and uses those to tell the story. Those key books are Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, Ezra, Nehemiah, 1 Maccabees, Luke, and Acts. Mark Hart’s The Teen Timeline Course adapted The Great Adventure for teens, and now, The Great Adventure Storybook: A Walk Through the Catholic Bible adapts it for children in kindergarten through eighth grade.
The Great Adventure Storybook is a full-color, beautifully illustrated, softcover book. The story of salvation history can be presented from only this one book and a Bible, although there are other optional components that I will describe later. The book does not assume that parents are familiar with the Bible. It explains the contents and arrangement of the Bible and how to look up passages. This makes it a great resource for parents who want to start exploring the Bible for themselves as well as for those who are already familiar with it.
The Great Adventure Storybook has 205 pages, so it is not a short storybook. It has 24 chapters, but these are not chapters that you can read in one sitting. Each chapter has about six stories written at a level that even kindergartners should be able to understand. A Bible Reading Checklist at the beginning of each chapter shows the books or passages from the Bible that should be read along with each of the stories. The idea is that you will read a book or passage from the Bible, then read the story from the storybook that tells the story in a summarized fashion, emphasizing the main ideas.
You will typically read one Bible chapter (or the selected verses) along with one story from the storybook in each sitting. If you have kindergartners, you might read only from the storybook, since children can still grasp the key ideas without the reading exceeding their attention span.
There are three thought-provoking discussion questions you might use at the end of each chapter, but I expect you and your children will come up with other questions as you read through each story within the chapters.
The Great Adventure Storybook uses the same color-coding and symbols that are used in the adult courses and in most of the optional components. Twelve different colors and symbols are used to indicate twelve key periods of biblical and church history that are identified by the Great Adventure approach. The pertinent color and symbol for each time period show up in the right-hand border of each two-page spread.
The storybook pages include other symbols in the margins that you might use for further discussion. There are symbols for the six covenants in the Bible─the agreements that God made with one or more persons such as His covenant with Abraham. A symbol of a banner with a portion of the Nicene Creed indicates a passage in the story that relates to a statement in the Nicene Creed. A cross symbol identifies the biblical basis of one of the seven sacraments. A rosary bead symbol indicates where one of the mysteries of the Rosary shows up in the Bible. In addition, bolded italic words identify passages from the Bible that are used in the Mass. All of these are listed together in one place in the book as well.
Within the text of the book, some terms are in bold. These are defined in a glossary toward the back of the book. Concepts that are explained more thoroughly in the Catechism than in the Bible have the Catechism location number in parentheses. These terms and concepts, too, might be used for further research or discussion, especially with older children.
Forty-nine of the illustrations that are in the storybook are reprinted as black-line drawings for children to color in The Great Adventure Kids: Bible Story Coloring Book. Other supplemental items are The Great Adventure Kids: Bible Timeline Chart, The Great Adventure Kids: Bible Card Game Set, the color-coded The Great Adventure Kids: Prayer Beads, and a bookmark.
The accordion-style timeline chart gives students a visual aid to understand when biblical events happened. The card game set has 80 cards with illustrations and information for children to play six different games to help them remember what they are learning. And the prayer beads are a mnemonic tool for recalling the periods of biblical history.
The Great Adventure Storybook can be used with all of your children together or one-on-one. It can be part of your curriculum that is used on a regular basis, or it can be used as fits the family schedule. However you use it, it’s a great way to introduce children to the story of salvation history.
* The Great Adventure course for adults has been renamed The Bible Timeline: The Story of Salvation, and a briefer version of it is titled Unlocking the Mystery of the Bible.