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Father reprints classic children’s text as tool for teaching biblical value


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (BP)–Richard E. Klenk Sr. felt his children’s education wouldn’t be complete without teaching them the life principles found in Scripture. The member of Fifth Avenue Baptist Church, St. Petersburg, Fla., began searching for a textbook based on biblical principles that would supplement his children’s education at home.
Klenk found what he was looking for in a classic American text — the New England Primer, one of the first instructional books used in American education. Used by schools during colonial times and after the American Revolution, the primer uses rhyme and repetition to teach the alphabet, along with Bible verses and doctrine. For example, the alphabet rhyme begins with the oft-quoted, “In Adam’s Fall, We sinned all.”
After using a 1777 version of the primer for family devotions, Klenk decided to reproduce and distribute it for use in Christian and home schools.
Klenk’s updated edition includes New King James Version Bible references and an editor’s note outlining the plan of salvation. Klenk said adding a salvation message was a natural ending to a text that teaches children Scripture.
He gave free copies of the updated primer to his children’s public school teachers during parent-teacher conferences “to let them know what I was trying to do as a parent for my children’s education.”
“The primer teaches principles children need to know for life, namely character, morals and values,” Klenk said. “I think one of the most important questions it asks is, ‘What is the chief end of man?’ The answer it gives is, ‘To glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.’ That’s what I want my children to learn above anything else.”
Glen Schultz, manager of the Christian school and home school section of LifeWay Christian Resources (formerly Sunday School Board) of the Southern Baptist Convention said the strength of the primer is familiarizing young children with God’s Word.
“Its original intent was to teach reading so people could read the Bible,” Schultz explained.
In colonial times, religion wasn’t just in education, it was the purpose of education, said Evelyn Collier, assistant professor of education at Florida Baptist Theological College in Graceville. One of the first laws in Massachusetts was that every town with at least 50 people had to have a school, with its purpose being to “dilute Satan.”
Her students study the primer in a Foundations of Education course to familiarize them with the Christian influence on early education.
The updated primer is available for $4.95 by contacting Klenk at (813)-526-4790 or http://www.neprimer.com.