Category: Bibles For Children (page 2 of 2)

ESV Seek and Find Bible

I have reviewed a few different story Bibles here, and I have written about why it’s important to read directly from Scripture with our kids. But our family is now moving into the season where our daughters are ready to begin laying bricks on the foundation prepared by story bibles with readings from Scripture itself, and in preparation for that, I rummaged around in Amazon’s recommended titles for full-length children’s Bibles.

I wanted one that offers the full ESV text with just the right amount of maps and things. The illustrations didn’t have to be amazing, but they couldn’t be cheesy. The theology in the extra-Biblical portions had to be sound (obviously).

ESV Seek and Find Bible (Ruth) | Little Book, Big Story

There aren’t many Bibles out there that meet those qualifications, actually, so I’m thankful that we found one that fits the bill as precisely as the ESV Seek and Find Bible does. The extra material is presented in such a way that it sets kids up for very basic Bible study skills by quietly teaching them how to cross-reference and compare texts, identify key verses, and ask questions about the text that will help them understand it more completely.

ESV Seek and Find Bible | Little Book, Big Story

This Bible also contains paraphrased versions of the most familiar Bible stories. While the language in these is a little basic, they provide a great overview of the stories for kids who might find them helpful to read alongside the longer text (which is referenced at the end of the story). Best of all, they point each story forward (or backward) to Christ.

This approach roots each story in the gospel: in that light, Samson is not merely an action hero whose life culminates in an act of brutal revenge, but is a broken man made champion by God, who brought us the perfect champion in Christ. Isaac is the son promised to Abraham and Sarah, but he is also the forefather of the Son promised to the world.

These connections prepare our children to read Scripture with the big picture in mind, looking for evidence of God’s work in the stories where he seems most absent and rejoicing in his faithfulness through chapter after chapter of his word. They join the stories of Scripture beautifully, like (to quote Marty Machowski), beads on the silk thread of the gospel.

ESV Seek and Find Bible | Little Book, Big Story


ESV Seek and Find Bible
Crossway (2010)

The Big Picture Story Bible | David Helm

After six consecutive nights spent awake and in the company of a congested baby, you start to forget important things like why you normally leave your glasses on the bookshelf near the door and not on the floor for the baby to find, or that you were going to mention to your husband the fact that a bolt is missing from the rear wheel of the car, or, incredibly, how to pronounce your own first name (please tell me that has happened to you, too).

Or you panic for a moment, while on a walk with the children, because you don’t see the baby—where is she?—before realizing that she is in the stroller that you are pushing right in front of you as you walk, kicking her feet happily as her sisters drop fallen leaves in her lap.

The Big Picture Story Bible | Little Book, Big Story

You also forget things like why you wanted to write a blog post about David Helm’s The Big Picture Story Bible. The post is there, at the top of your list of drafts, but you find yourself sitting on the couch at 5:57 am, drinking a rapidly cooling cup of Earl Grey tea and thinking about that missing bolt.

The Big Picture Story Bible | Little Book, Big Story

However, there is a light pinging way back in the back of my mind, reminding me that the ladies at Aslan’s Library wrote a beautiful review of not only The Big Picture Story Bible, but also of the accompanying audio CDs. Not only that, but they linked to this excellent presentation by David Helm on how to teach your children the whole story of the Bible (I watched that and it was so good, great for watching while folding laundry, knitting, or staring off into space). So today, I will refer you to Aslan’s Library and go back to nursing my now lukewarm tea and savoring the final chapters of Lila, by Marilynne Robinson.

Notice the heavily worn binding of our book—evidence, surely of a book worth reading again and again and again:

The Big Picture Story Bible | Little Book, Big Story


The Big Picture Story Bible
David R. Helm, Gail Schoonmaker (2004)

Tomie de Paola’s Book of Bible Stories

There is a spectrum of Bibles available for kids: at one end sits the actual Bible; at the other, the lovely picture books that give a faithful retelling of a single Bible story, many of which have appeared on this blog. In the middle sit the quality story Bibles like The Jesus Story Book Bible or The Gospel Story Bible. (I have banished from the spectrum books that are vacuous and cute, and reduce stories like “Daniel in the Lion’s Den” to a moral tale told in rhymed couplets from the spectrum. I’m a snobby book blogger. I can do that sort of thing.)

Tomie dePaola’s Book of Bible Stories sits just inside the spectrum, spine to spine with the actual Bible. It doesn’t point each story back to Jesus, but trusts that its readers have grown past the need for that and tells the stories in slightly adapted passages from the NIV translation, framed by dePaola’s gorgeous, full-page illustrations.

Tomie dePaola's Book of Bible Stories | Little Book, Big Story

If your child is ready to move past story Bibles and into the realm of Scripture itself, Tomie dePaola’s Book of Bible Stories serves as a great bridge: though we prefer the ESV for our family readings, the NIV makes a nice introduction to the language of the Bible for kids that find the ESV too ponderous at first. It is also a great reference for tackling specific stories as they come up in conversation. (Not only that, but it is somewhat of a classic, so it’s easy to find secondhand.)

Tomie dePaola's Book of Bible Stories | Little Book, Big Story


Tomie de Paola’s Book of Bible Stories
Tomie de Paola

Reading the Bible as a Family

I have already reviewed a number of story Bibles and Bible stories here, but before we move much further down this road together, I’d like to pause and say something important: story Bibles are great. But the Bible itself is better.

Scripture is true and it is beautifully written (remember the image of Noah riding the waves over the tops of the submerged mountains?), but as adults we can grow a thick skin toward the language of the Bible. We begin to skim the stories that we know by heart, and as we do we lose sight of the shocking beauty of the story being told.

Reading the Bible as a family | Little Book, Big Story

But our children are hearing these things for the first time, and at some point they need to turn those onion-skin pages themselves and know that the words they’re hearing weren’t composed in a home office but in the heart of God himself. They were put to paper in prisons and deserts, written in grief and joy. Men died so we could hold them, leather bound and translated, in our own hands. This is a book unlike any other, and children need to know that from a young age.

Story Bibles are a wonderful aid when introducing kids to the whole of the Bible—especially when children are young and wiggly and love illustrations—but they are tools, meant to lead them on to the Word itself. If we stop at the paraphrase and consider our job done, we’ve merely fed them milk and failed to wean them onto solid food.

But that raises the question: how do you transition from reading story Bibles to reading the Bible itself with your children?

Reading the Bible as a family | Little Book, Big Story

This is not a rhetorical question.

My children are young enough that we’re just beginning to move in this direction, so I am no authority. But I am a compulsive reader and an over-thinker of everything, so I have, of course, compiled a list of theoretical options. For those of you with experience reading the Bible with your children, please comment below and share any words of wisdom with the rest of us!

Reading the Bible as a family | Little Book, Big Story

Sharing Scripture with Your Kids

– Gladys Hunt, in Honey For a Child’s Heart, shares what is probably my favorite approach: read a passage together after a meal. Then everyone, parents included, must ask a question about the passage and answer a question about the passage. Gladys Hunt writes:

This method requires that everyone think through what the passage is saying . . .We experience a great thing:  the joy of discovery. What is discovered for one’s self is always more meaningful than what is told to us by someone else.

– Marty Machowski’s excellent devotionals Long Story Short and Old Story New take families through the Old and New Testaments respectively, with chunks of reading straight from Scripture followed by solid questions. We’ve done Long Story Short off and on, and are continually surprised by what our girls pick up as we read.

Reading the Bible as a family | Little Book, Big Story

– I know of one family that has read through the classic devotional Daily Light on the Daily Path for years. This is an old book, recently released in the ESV translation, that offers carefully curated readings pulled straight from Scripture—the verses aren’t in their immediate context, but are fitted together into a bigger context that follows a larger theme for the day. It’s hard to explain, really, but the way the verses work together is lovely.

– The one thing I do actively implement is surprisingly simple: I share what I’m reading with my girls. I love M’Cheyne’s reading plan (though I may not finish every reading every day), and when the girls see me reading my Bible they often ask me to read to them—and so we’ve read Psalms together here and there, or passages from James. I read aloud until they wander off, and then go on reading to myself. It’s simple, but they seem to enjoy being drawn into my time with Scripture.

Reading the Bible as a family | Little Book, Big Story

So, those are my ideas. What about you? How do you read the Bible with your kids? If your kids are older, I’d especially love to hear any insights you might have from your vantage point.

The Jesus Storybook Bible | Sally Lloyd-Jones

From the moment that we first met, I knew that The Jesus Storybook Bible was a treasure among children’s Bibles. Even then, I didn’t appreciate how wonderful it was until I encountered another, more old-school, children’s Bible and found that, where The Jesus Storybook Bible treats Scripture as a seamless, coherent whole, the stories in the old-school Bible kept an awkward distance from each other, like students at a junior high dance. No effort was made to weave the parts into a whole, or to answer the pressing question, “Why do these stories matter?” Even to a child, it’s clear that most of the people in the Bible behave badly, so why must we read about them?

The Jesus Storybook Bible | Little Book, Big Story

Enter Sally Lloyd-Jones:

…the Bible isn’t a book of rules, or a book of heroes. The bible is most of all a Story. It’s an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne—everything—to rescue the one he loves. It’s like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life!

You see, the best thing about this Story is—it’s true. 

Every story in The Jesus Storybook Bible is told eloquently, with the occasional endearing aside to the reader, and every one ends on a note of hope: he’s coming! The Savior—who will break that curse, heal that wound, fulfill that prophecy—is coming!

The Jesus Storybook Bible | Little Book, Big Story

These stories matter because they are all about Jesus. Lloyd-Jones makes that plain, even in the subtitle of the book: Every story whispers his name. They all point toward him, are fulfilled in him, are significant because of him.

As parents reading this to our 18-month-old daughter for the first time, we were stunned to hear such massive truths articulated so clearly, and we found ourselves moved as we read about Leah, unloved by man but beloved of God, or Zaccheaus, who didn’t have any friends (none)—until Jesus befriended him.

The Jesus Storybook Bible | Little Book, Big Story

The Jesus Storybook Bible shows the Bible not as a dusty tome of ancient lore or as a thesis on wishful thinking, but as a book that matters because it is true. So many different authors, spanning centuries and cultures, sat down to write their own chapters of that one, seamless book, detailing God’s “Never-Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love,” and Lloyd-Jones conveys the magnitude and complexity of that with joy, grace and just the right sort of humor.

And I haven’t even touched on Jago’s illustrations. They are glorious.

The Jesus Storybook Bible | Little Book, Big Story

We have read this book dozens of times. We’re on our second copy of it actually, as the first has been lovingly manhandled by our small daughters. My husband even uses it when leading Bible study discussions (sometimes, even college students benefit from full color illustrations). But certain passages still take my breath away as I read them, still delight as though I’d never heard them before, and best of all, drive me to my Bible to dig into the stories with a new enthusiasm.

The Jesus Storybook Bible | Little Book, Big Story


The Jesus Storybook Bible
Sally Lloyd-Jones, Jago (2007)