I’m very picky when it comes to children’s books. The book must have an interesting story with great writing and word images, and the illustrations have to be really good. I will never forget the first time I read that children’s favorite “I’ll Love You Forever”…you know, the one about the kid whose mom sings to him, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be”? Yes, that part sounds okay, but then the creepiness begins when the psycho mother can’t let go of her son and rocks him in a rocking chair even as he gets older and older. Then the crazy lady drives across town with a ladder on top of her car to sneak in the window of her grown son who now has a family, just to rock him again. That is weird, weird stuff. Let me tell you, if Greg’s mom ever tried that one I’d be pretty creeped out. But I digress.
Children’s books. Yes. When it comes to illustrations, I like finding all different styles of illustrations and pointing out the brushstrokes that this artist used or the way that artist is more abstract. So it’s no wonder that I have a hard time finding a children’s Bible that I like. Because with a Bible, you have to add to the great words and great illustrations the fact that the truth has to shine through each page in a child friendly but not too watered down way. And it has to focus the child on the truth of the saving grace of God through Jesus. It’s a big order to fill.
I got lucky. I don’t even know where I found this Bible, but it’s wonderful. The illustrations aren’t those cartoony Sunday School handout style. They’re vibrant and big and detailed and are on every page (there’s a sample of one, above). The stories are just the right length for my kids (ages 4 and 6…the website recommends it for ages 4-8). But the very best thing about it, and it’s something I didn’t even think to look for in a children’s Bible, is the way the author uses almost every story to point to Christ.
For example, after the story of the fall of man, the author ends it this way as God sends Adam and Eve out of the garden: “Well, in another story, it would be all over and that would have been THE END. But not in this story. God loved his children too much to let the story end there.” Then it goes on to describe how God will send Jesus to rescue them. Wow. And in the story of Joseph, after he chooses not to punish his brothers but to rescue them from starvation, the authors write, “One day, God would send another Prince, a young Prince whose heart would break. Like Joseph, he would leave his home and his Father. His brothers would hate him and want him dead. He would be sold for pieces of silver. He would be punished even though he had done nothing wrong. But God would use everything that happened to this young Prince – even the bad things – to do something good: to forgive the sins of the whole world.”
I’m so thrilled to have found this little Bible! We used to try to read Psalms and Proverbs with the boys after dinner, and none of us enjoyed it. It was like pulling teeth to get anyone to pay attention and the words were just too hard for the kids to understand. But one day Greg picked up this Bible instead and we began reading a story a night after dinner together. It’s amazing the conversations that you can have about living a God-honoring life when you’re reading His stories together every night! The stories we read always seem to fit in with the dramas of the day and have a lesson to teach or a conversation to start. Of course, it’s also amazing the number of conversations that will be interrupted with cries for more milk or I-have-to-go-potty’s, but we do still have real live four and six year olds, you know. But it’s a start, and the boys get excited to hear the next story Greg reads. So we’ll take what we can get!
Tonight I’m off to a new Christian book store someone told me about to search for a new Bible for Jake to take to Sunday School. I heard that they’re starting to look up stories together and sometimes the stories aren’t in his beloved rhyming Bible. (That’s another great kids Bible…perfect for ages 2-5, I’d say. Although Jake’s six and he doesn’t want to part with it! All the stories are good rhyming ones and the illustrations are simple but there are plenty of them and they’re good quality. The cover is shown above.) And by the way, this was my favorite baby bible…a soft cover, board book style, decent illustrations, colorful, good rhyming stories with very simple baby/toddler questions. (cover shown below.)
Do you have a great children’s Bible your family uses? I’m open to suggestions!