Thursday, October 30, 2008

Children's Bibles

(This post has been updated in 2011, see it here)

What Bibles do you use with your children? We have so many, all of varying quality!

I personally find that most of the bibles for very young children are very average, excluding key parts of the accounts, or just ignoring them. Now, as I shop for bibles I have a mental checklist of things I really would like them to include, they include:
  • Gen 3 - the account of sin. So many ignore this. How can we possibly teach children of their need for a Saviour unless they know that the world needs saving?
  • Abraham and God's promises to him. I am amazing at how many bibles go from Noah straight to the story of Joseph and his coloured coat, skipping over one of the key promises God makes.
  • Some Psalms or Proverbs.
  • Some details post-ascension: the coming of the Holy Spirit, the growth of the Early Church, Paul and his letters, Revelation.
  • In a more detailed bible - to include the account of the plant in Jonah 4, rather than finishing with Jonah saying yes and going to Ninevah.
What are other things you want children's bibles to include?

Here are some of the better bibles we have come across:
  • The Beginner's Bible (Candle Books). Our 3 year old really likes this one, the stories are more detailed, and she can follow them, the pictures are engaging (although not entirely realistic - how often do fish smile happily when they are caught?). We have used this one from ages 3-5.

  • My First Bible (ill. Andrew Gleeson and Sophie Keen; Parragon). This our son enjoys (he is 5). The illustrations are less engaging and colourful, but the stories themselves are good and quite detailed.

  • The Big Picture Story Bible (David Helm, ill. Gail Schoonmaker). This is a great bible for the 4+ age group (as our family only goes to age 5, I can't guess an upper limit!). It is one of the few children's bibles which really pushes the idea of Biblical Theology - that there is one unifying theme through the whole of the bible, God's people under God's rule in God's place. Our son loves it - the illustrations are vivid and often from odd angles, which he enjoys. The individual story units are sometimes very long, so we split them at times.
  • The Jesus Story Book Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name, Sally Lloyd-Jones, ill. Jago. We have just finished this Bible with our 5 year old, and it was great. It draws attention in each story to how Jesus will or does fulfill each part of the bible, Old or New Testament. The illustrations are engaging and enjoyable, they use the occasional full page side oriented layout so you have to turn the book to the side to read certain pages. It does not shy away from some details and some emotion. I think this is the only Bible that made my son actually pause and realise that what happened to Jesus on the cross was truly awful and very sad.

My big question at the moment is: when do you actually just give your children a full bible? And what version? I would love people's input on this, as I don't have much idea.


Melissa Piggin said...

Indi has just got her first real "big" bible this year for her eighth birthday from Nanny Carol. It is age appropriate and was chosen with help from a good friend at the Bible Society. It has good kid friendly notes, but not too many colours for distraction from the main text. She enjoys reading it with help from Scripture Union 'Snap Shots' notes. As she is getting more into chapter books this year, it was a good time to get it. Just to be aware, there were quite a range, and some were really over the top with colour and extra content, too much for a kid to really see the point without getting distracted. Do some research, and ask someone who has had kids of that age before, can be helpful. Let me know if you want the version I got, I can let you know. lis.x

Erin said...

I was talking to a friend about this just this week. We have a christian bookfair at school this week, so we were looking through the bibles and stuff. She said she gives one to her boys the christmas after they turn 6. I think this makes sense - they are probably getting along with reading, and so can have a go at a bible.

My next problem - why do all the kids bibles (and I mean bibles not storybooks) have "study notes"/commentries in the. And is the NIrV (new international readers version), which is aimed at new readers, any good?

I think Ruth made a good point recently about storybook bibles - they are not really bibles as such, and perhaps it is a bit unhelpful for our kids to call them such. That being said - I do love some of the ones you've got listed. I think we own most of those. The Sally Lloyd-Jones one is my favourite.

Pip said...

Rachel was given a full bible last month from girls brigade. The cover is hot glittery pink but the inside is just the plain text without study notes. She LOVES it - took it to school for show and tell, and now wants to come to bible study because she has a 'Holy Bible' : )

If it had been left up to us we would have left it longer until her reading was better but now that she has one at this age (nearly 6)I can see that it has been great for her just to have it and try to read it. So we'll now give the other two one at the same age.

Nicole said...

Hi Wendy,

It's lovely to find your blog.

We started our eldest on a 'real' Bible this year (when he was 5). I think it's good to start early, but not so early that they don't understand anything! My husband does a fair amount of explaining as he reads it to him (which is a great!).

I wrote a post about it when we were about to give it to him and got some good responses on the same question you raised: