John Calvin (Christian Biographies for Young Readers)

This is the year of John Calvin. In celebration of the 500th anniversary of his birth, many ministries are holding conferences to discuss his life and impact and many Christian publishers are releasing biographies of the man who did so much to form the Christian faith and the Western world. Reformation Heritage Books has taken a unique route by producing a biography targeted at children from ages 7 to 10. Written by Simonetta Carr and illustrated by Emanuele Taglietti, the book combines the story of Calvin’s life with excellent watercolor illustrations.

The publisher describes the book in this way: “In this attractive volume, Simonetta Carr introduces young readers to the life, thought, and work of one of the most famous Reformers of the Christian church. Readers will come to know Calvin’s personality, his devotion to God and the church, and the personal challenges he faced. They will understand the struggles of the early Reformed church faced at that time, not only surviving attacks of the Roman Catholic Church, but also achieving a clear identity and a unified doctrine.”

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In just about sixty pages, this book gives a brief overview of Calvin’s life, from the cultural and religious setting into which he was born, through his education and training, his years of writing and ministry, and his death. The author discusses not just Calvin’s life but also his impact, including his influence on the religious liberties codified in the American Constitution. It concludes with some suggestions for children who may wish to learn more about Calvin and with a series of interesting facts about the day in which Calvin lived. There are original watercolor illustrations or relevant photographs on just about every page.


This is a very good little biography of Calvin and one that does a very good job of speaking to its targeted age group. It easily held the attention of my six year-old and nine year-old children as I read it all in one sitting (though my two year-old fell asleep before I had completed the first page). It led to some interesting questions and answers afterward, as we discussed persecution, martyrdom and a life lived for God’s glory. The children seemed to enjoy the book a lot. I would recommend this book to any parent who is interested in introducing his children to the life and times of a great Christian of days past. I am hoping that this is just the first in a series of similar books.

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