Category: Bibles & Bible Stories (page 1 of 13)

Indescribable

This week’s summer re-run originally published in June 2020, back when my kids were so small.


Not long ago, a single spider could clear any room of our house. (I take no pride in saying that I was often the first one to leave.) One report of a spider in the play room and no one would go up there again until Mitch had presented evidence of a body. One web on the front porch, and no one would use the front door until every corner of the porch had been swept.

But now we have pet spiders—three of them. Goldie the garden spider hangs her web outside our dining room window; a wee baby spider just set up shop over a planter on the patio. And Rosie, the incredible redback jumping spider, tucked her burrito-shaped web into a crack in our raised garden bed. We visit her every day and often, to Rosie’s chagrin, the little girls hover right over her, chatting and pointing.

What changed?

Indescribable, by Louis Giglio | Little Book, Big Story

We learned more about spiders. They became not a whole scary lot of bugs that run, as C.S. Lewis once unforgettably observed, like disembodied hands, but individuals: a male house spider may be horrifyingly large, but now we know he’s just hanging out in the corners of our dining room, looking for a lady friend. A garden spider isn’t spinning a web across our porch steps out of spite, but because she’s hoping to snack on a few of the bugs that try to snack on our hellebore.

Just as this shift isn’t limited to spiders (we now have snail friends and roly poly friends, and it’s all I can do to deter the younger girls from keeping ladybugs in their pockets), it isn’t limited to one book either. But if I had to choose one book that has taught us to love the world around us a bit better and to see it in a little more detail, I’d choose Indescribable.

Indescribable, by Louis Giglio | Little Book, Big Story

Indescribable sits in the windowsill near our table and hardly anyone grumbles when we pull it down to read at dinner. This book is a curious mix of Scripture, scientific exploration, devotional readings, and fun “Bet you didn’t know this!” facts about our world.

Each reading looks at some incredible aspect of the world and considers, without reaching far for the connection, what that aspect says about God. The death of stars; our respiratory system; shark’s teeth—each of these topics spark wonder in us, and each of these can teach us something about God. When so many people assume that God and science stand in opposition to one another, Louis Giglio shows us that science does not inevitably lead to skepticism but can instead teach us to recognize, through even unlikely things like spiders and snails, the personality and joy of God.

Indescribable, by Louis Giglio | Little Book, Big Story

Giglio has introduced us to incredible facts about whales and volcanoes and trees and snow. But he doesn’t just point at those things and say, “Isn’t this cool? Isn’t it great how this happens?”—and then walk away. Instead, he points from the tree to the Tree Maker and says, “Look what this says about him. Look how purposeful and wonderful this tree is. Enjoy it. And through it, know the one who made it.”

“The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1), and so do redback jumping spiders named Rosie. Rejoice.


Indescribable: 100 Devotions About God & Science
Louis Giglio; Nicola Anderson (2017)

A Visual Theology Guide to the Bible

Just as I don’t know what I think until I write it down or say it out loud, I often don’t truly grasp an idea until I see it spread out in front of me. And so I love resources, like Tim Challies’s A Visual Theology Guide to the Bible, that deepen our family’s understanding of Scripture by allowing us to explore the themes and structure of Scripture in a visual way.

This book is meant as an introduction to the big picture of the Bible—how all 66 books fit together, for example, or how the Old Testament relates with the new, and so much more. The book isn’t all graphics, but it does contain a lot of graphics, and each one explores some aspect of Scripture in a way that helps readers envision key elements of our faith. Some, like the intricate image interweaving Old Testament prophecies with the stories of Jesus fulfilling each one, are so beautiful they elicit a sense of awe. Others are clean and simple, and illustrate the truths of the faith with the foam skimmed off so we can see into its depths more clearly.

Though this book isn’t specifically intended for families, my teen daughters read and enjoyed it, and I could see it serving as a great devotional resource for families with older children (or homeschooling families! This would be a great spine for a Bible curriculum). Or read A Visual Theology Guide to the Bible for yourself and allow it to deepen your own understanding of the Bible’s beauty, complexity, and simplicity.


A Visual Theology Guide to the Bible: Seeing and Knowing God’s Word
Tim Challies; Josh Byers (2019)

All About Bible Animals

Our nine-year-old is all about animals. I joke that she is our Gerald Durrell, not just because she loves the fuzzy, purring, cuddling animals, but the many-legged and wriggling ones, too. (She does make a pronounced and emphatic exception for bees. And honestly, bees, if you’d stop stinging her, I feel confident that she’d love you, too!) She’s the one who materializes next to me with a pet snail named Cucumber; the one to name the spider nesting in the end of our garden bed Rosie; the one busily rescuing earthworms from The Evil Garden Fork of Doom.

She is the reason I picked up a copy of this book.

All About Bible Animals, by Simona Piscioneri | Little Book, Big Story

All About Bible Animals is part nature reference book, part Bible story book. In it, author Simona Piscioneri introduces readers to the animals mentioned in Scripture, investigating both the animals themselves and the stories that feature them. This might seem like a sort of unnecessary thing to do—why focus on the animals in these passages? But I love it: Scripture is full of incredibly rich images, with meanings layered artfully over some of the smallest details. So I love the idea of exploring some of these subtle connections in Scripture with kids.

For example, in the page about bees, Piscioneri answers that question we all secretly ask: What does it mean for a land to be “flowing with milk and honey”? And why would that be a good thing? Or on the page about deer: What’s the deal with that thirsty deer in the psalms? By learning more about the animals, she gives readers a chance to sit with and examine some of the more interesting images in Scripture.

All About Bible Animals, by Simona Piscioneri | Little Book, Big Story

But she doesn’t stop there: this book is full of information not just about deer in general, but about the specific kinds of deer David might have seen back in his psalm-writing days. Or about the sheep Jesus might have seen on the hillsides of Israel. Or about locusts . . . and who else besides John the Baptist might still consider them a suitable lunch.

All About Bible Animals is the sort of book that brings the Bible to life for readers, and from an unexpected angle. And I’m always grateful for books that do that.


All About Bible Animals: Over 100 Amazing Facts About the Animals of the Bible
Simona Piscioneri (2023)


Disclosure: I did receive a copy of this book for review, but I was not obligated to review it or compensated for my review in any way. I share this book with you because I love it, not because I was paid to do so.

The Sower

Good gravy, that was quite the break I just took! I’ve missed weeks posting before, of course, but not that many. What happened? I suppose the simplest explanation is that life suddenly filled up with end-of-school shenanigans. Meanwhile, a number of writing and editing assignments landed in my inbox simultaneously, all of them due stat. Dear readers: my sincere apologies. I don’t flatter myself that you’re checking in every Friday, wondering what on earth you’ll read to your children without my guidance, but I do consider it my end of the bargain to post consistently each week. And I let down the side! So, I’m sorry. May I make it up to you with a long-overdue post about a truly beautiful book?

The Sower, by Scott James | Little Book, Big Story

We’ve been slow to begin our garden this year, and there are many reasons for this. Spring was mostly cold, damp, and uninspiring; our dog is uninterested in the distinctions between our raised beds and the rest of the yard, so I don’t trust him yet around seedlings. Also, I sprained my ankle a few months back and kneeling and squatting are still questionable endeavors. So I am deeply grateful for the daffodils I planted last fall—ivory, canary-yellow, creamy and ruffled—that worked their way up from among the weeds. I needed them this spring. They reminded me of what our garden could be if I would just get out there and do the work.

And so, as part of my self-motivating campaign, it feels fitting to share a book about a garden today. The Sower, by Scott James (author of He Cares for Me and many others), is a retelling of the gospel story from creation to redemption. This book feels different in tone than many of the other Bible picture books out there—quieter, more contemplative. Between Stephen Crotts’s gorgeous illustrations and James’s creative use of the images of the sower and the seed, this book feels like a poem—rhythmic, musical, filled with incredible visuals. It is truly a pleasure to read. And it is good to hear this story—the Story—told with such beauty and grace.

The Sower, by Scott James | Little Book, Big Story

The Sower
Scott James; Steven Crotts (2022)


* When I see an adult with a sprained-ankle-caliber injury, I like to ask, “Was it a good story?” And so, for the two of you out there wondering if this is a good story: it’s a funny one, at least. I sprained my ankle when I was rollerskating in our dining room with my daughters, as one does. We like to put on loud music and a disco light and have skate parties in our house, but one day as I was sitting down (!) to take off my skates, I fell weird, felt my ankle pop, and involuntarily suspended my skate career for the next few months.

Bible Study Resources for Kids

When we were homeschooling, I learned a trick for teaching my daughters math. If they were struggling to solve a problem, I would wait until I was tempted to answer for them . . . and then I would slowly count to three. My daughters usually solved the problems during that window, when I was fighting the urge to say, “Thirteen! It’s thirteen!”

As it turns out, this is great advice for raising teens (and almost-teens), too. When my daughters are tackling something new, I hold back as long as I can and fight that mom urge to just do it for them. It’s not easy. Sometimes I have to do deep breathing. But those extra three seconds are often just enough time for my daughters to do the thing themselves and emerge victorious, with that sense of confidence because they figured it out on their own.

So it is with Bible study. We still read the Bible together as a family, but I’ve also been trying to nurture in our older girls a desire to study Scripture on their own. These habits aren’t easy to build, but this is another place where I find I need to hand them good tools, set up their workspace for success, and then step back and pray silently over them as they do the actual work on their own.

And so, here are a few resources our family has found helpful in different stages as this particular plane makes its way down the runway. (Has it fully lifted off yet for anybody? No. But it’s pulling away from the airport!) I’ve ordered this list to start with resources for the youngest readers before moving on to resources for teens.

A Full-Text Kids’ Bible

Of course, a full-text Bible for kids is a great place to start. There are lots of options out there, and the best ones feature a few tools that help kids connect with the text and understand what they’re reading. Some of our favorites over the years have been the ESV Seek-And-Find Bible, the ESV Big Picture Bible, and—most recently—the CSB One Big Story Bible.


Kaleidoscope Kids’ Bibles

Kaleidoscope Kids Bibles | Little Book, Big Story

These Bibles hit that sweet spot between story Bible and the Bible itself. Each volume features a paraphrased version of a book of the Bible, perfect for readers who are comfortable with chapter books but not quite ready to navigate Leviticus alone.


Exploring the Bible, by David Murray

Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids, by David Murray (review) | Little Book, Big Story

This is a fabulous Bible study for kids that gives them a survey of the whole Bible, one short reading at a time. Our family did this together one year and found that it helped our daughters fit the individual stories of Scripture into the larger narrative of the whole Bible. Murray’s Meeting with Jesus is excellent too. (Read the full review.)


Best News Ever, by Chris Morphew

Best News Ever, by Chris Morphew | Little Book, Big Story

This Bible study takes middle school readers through the book of Mark with short readings and deep questions. (Read the full review.)


Draw Near, by Sophie Killingsley

Draw Near, by Sophie Killingley | Little Book, Big Story

Draw Near is a sort of pre-made bullet journal, with cleverly illustrated habit trackers and study guides that help readers young and old make Scripture reading and prayer a daily part of their lives. (Read the full review.)


Head Heart Hands, by Linda Allcock

Head, Heart, Hands Bible Study | Little Book, Big Story

This trio of Bible studies takes teen girls through the gospel of Matthew, inviting them to answer thoughtful questions and take what they learn about Jesus to heart.


Teen Study Bibles

We haven’t dug into many of these yet, but I have long been a fan of the ESV Journaling Bible, which allows readers to process their reading with a pen in hand (this is how I do my best thinking). Our eldest daughter uses the NIV Bible for Teen Girls, which contains devotional readings on a wide range of topics (including sex, so give this one a pre-read). The ESV Student Study Bible is excellent too, and I’ve heard great things about the CSB Seven Arrows Bible.


Which resources have your kids found helpful?