As a teenager I remember hearing parents at church complain about the lack of good children’s Bibles… and then by the time I was pregnant with S it seemed there were suddenly many to choose from and more coming out! I have been checking recommended ones out of the library to read to S to compare them. I still have a few on my list but our library doesn’t have them, so someday I may update this post, but for now, these are the four we have read the most:
– Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones
– Big Picture Story Bible by David Helm
– Biggest Story Bible by Kevin DeYoung
– For Such a Time as This by Angie Smith
Some thoughts on each of them:
The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones
Age range: (older) toddler
Artwork:intricate photos, sometimes odd, but mostly beautiful, not very realistic
Big picture:love story about our rescue, pointing out Jesus in Bible stories
Strengths:references included with each chapter, chapters a good length for reading aloud, making neat connections to Jesus, includes most “famous” Bible stories.
Weaknesses: poor understanding of God’s justice and wrath (it’s all about love, which isn’t a problem if the reader is saved, but I agree with others whose comment is that it can give kids a wrong idea of their relationship to God), twaddly/long-winded and poor sentence structure at times, sometimes outright changes it (for example, after the flood, God promises to never destroy the earth again, VS never destroying it by flood again).
The Big Picture Story Bible by David Helm
age range: (younger) toddler
artwork: Bright, bold drawings, sometimes a little odd. There is often symbolism in the pictures, though, which is really nice for the parent and to explain things more for older children.
big picture: Jesus as King and God’s Promise, mostly overarching theme but also in some smaller stories
strengths: easy to understand, language toddlers are used to (obedience, etc), no twaddle, coherent big picture story, more simple concepts to grasp, theologically sound. Repetitions in phrasing also make it easier for younger kids to understand.
weaknesses:only comes in a big big book, leaves some stories out, no references.
The Biggest Story by Kevin DeYoung
age range: older toddler/early elementary, though S sits through half of it in one sitting sometimes.
artwork: probably our favorite artwork, though it still gets a little odd (green faces sometimes, etc.). Doesn’t show Jesus clearly, which I like. Secret of Kells-style art that is visualy stunning but not realistic, but often has lots of imagery
big picture: a fast-paced, highlights look at the journey from Eden to Heaven (the gardens)
strengths: Engaging language, theologically sound, mentions a lot of smaller stories despite not having the whole one.
weaknesses:So fast! Skips Jesus’ ministry
For Such a Time as This by Angie Smith
age range: older toddler/early elementary (doesn’t usually hold S’s attention very long)
artwork: Warm, simple, realistic. Jesus is never shown head on. I love the intricacy and symbolism of The Biggest Story, but this is a close second.
big picture: the faith of women in the Bible
strengths: includes references, inspiring girls to be like (or not like!) women
weaknesses: creative license needed at times to fill in gaps, little dialogue/much telling, includes debated Mark 8, portrays the women as almost-perfect/no struggles, just faith. A few minor theological points I disagree with, but not as big of disagreements as with Jesus Storybook Bible.
How do all the stories compare/line up?
I made an excel spreadsheet for this since I wanted to fit it all together so we could use them all chronologically if we wanted to.
What do we use after all that?
I read to S from the Big Picture story Bible daily. It’s the best fit for her attention span and understanding right now with word choice and repetitions. I also read to her from “women Bible” as she calls it, “For Such a Time as This,” and will continue to do so especially as her attention span lengthens. But I wouldn’t use it alone since it’s not meant to be comprehensive. We want The Biggest Story but I don’t know if I would use it every day right now.
Comments on the Big Picture Interactive Bible Storybook:
I paged through this at my in-law’s. It’s very different from most children’s Bibles. Each story is a page of text and one picture, and then there is a section with a Christ connection and a question. It’s nice because it includes more stories and reads more like a regular Bible, but the straightforwardness of it makes it a little harder for younger kids to connect with, and I like it better when the Christ connection is worked into the story more like with JSB and BPSB. The artwork was pretty standard for a children’s Bible (though everyone was very buff!). The big upside I see to it is that it could be more easily used if they just weren’t quite ready for a regular Bible, and they make a version that is a regular Bible that includes the questions and Christ connection, which would be a good Bible for kids who are reading the Bible on their own but could use some extra explanation or guidance in thinking about what they read.
What are your thoughts on children’s Bibles? What are your favorites and why?
UPDATE May 2018:
We recently acquired the DK Illustrated Family Bible and have been using that with S on occasion. I love the side bar information and like that it is almost entirely straight Bible text. Our main caution is that the pictures frequently reflect the more violent aspects of the stories in the OT far more than is necessary.