What Advent is to Jesus’ birth, Lent is to his death and resurrection. During the 40 days of Lent, we prepare to celebrate Easter by remembering our need for Jesus. We reflect on our mortality, remembering that we are dust, and we reflect on our need for a Savior willing to die in our place. Lent is, perhaps, not so cozy as Advent, but it is beautiful. And it starts tomorrow.
Over the years, I have found many Advent devotionals and a few excellent two-weeks-til-Easter devotionals. But I have found very few books willing to walk our family through the entire season of Lent. I cannot, in fact, think of any.
But Sally Lloyd-Jones has a whole-family guide to observing Lent with kids—and the Jesus Storybook Bible. That’s what we’ll be doing this year, and I wanted to share it today so that you, if you’re into this sort of thing, can join us!
The guide features forty days of readings from the Jesus Storybook Bible, as well as a printable paper chain and coloring pages. This will definitely please the younger set of readers in our house, but I know the older girls will enjoy it as well.
Finding beautiful, theologically sound Bibles for kids is, to me, like finding volunteer sunflowers in a flowerbed given over to weeds: you know you’ll find flowers in that bed, of course, but somehow you don’t expect them to be so flashy and radiant.
So many children’s Bibles mean well, but by chopping Scripture into disjointed stories or by tacking a moral onto each one that points away from the Lord and toward the child, these Bibles dilute the beauty of Scripture and become like weeds. They may be the pretty kind of weed that you wish you could let grow, but you know you’ll regret indulging them if they sow seeds of self-righteousness or despair in a child. So, weeds.
But there are so many Bibles out there for children that are beautiful and complex, that stand well above the weedy undergrowth in the children’s section at the Christian bookstore. And in the three-and-a-half years since I started this blog, I have found quite a few of them—so many, in fact, that I decided to do something only people who love checklists do: I made a list for you. Of all of them. Organized by age.
This list is not comprehensive. There are a lot of wonderful Bibles out there for children, but I haven’t seen all of them in person or read them through with my kids, so I’m sticking with the ones our family knows and loves. And because our family is full of children 11 and under, my list is woefully short on anything targeted at children over age 11. Sorry about that.
These tiny re-tellings of Bible stories pack a lot of truth into a few short sentences. Each volume contains five or six stories, but they’re not told in chronological order. In fact, we own the first four, and with the exception of a few excursions into the Old Testament, they’re all mostly about Jesus. But these are great for beginning readers as well as toddlers. (They’re especially great for beginning readers who like reading to toddlers.) (Read the full review.)
If you don’t own this book, forget the rest of the post—no matter how old your children are. Buy this one. Even if you don’t have kids, buy this one. The Jesus Storybook Bible tells the stories of Scripture in such a way that “Every Story Whispers His Name,” and reminds us again and again of who Jesus is and why he matters. (Read the full review.)
David Helm walks through Scripture one story at a time, always keeping the big picture of Scripture in mind. Each story has its place in the greater story of Scripture, and the large format, short readings, and colorful illustrations make this a great Bible for toddlers. But the truth in it makes it a great fit for everyone else, too. (Read the full review.)
Kevin DeYoung’s book is a flyover picture of the big story in Scripture: in ten short chapters he moves from Creation to Revelation, looking at Jesus through a new lens in each story. Also worth noting: I love Don Clark’s illustrations in this book. (Read the full review.)
The big people and the little people in our home love this Bible. Machowski doesn’t shy away from the less popular corners of Scripture, but includes over 150 stories in The Gospel Story Bible. They’re well-told, pretty short, and finish with discussion questions. These readings are compact, but they go deep quickly. (Read the full review.)
This full-length Bible contains a neat coding system that builds beginning Bible study skills by teaching kids to look for context, to cross-reference verses, and to ask interesting questions about the text. It also has all manner of interesting maps and background information about the people and places in Scripture. (Read the full review.)
This Bible contains the full text of Scripture, as well as the familiar illustrations from The Big Picture Story Bible. We just bought it for our six-year-old, and it makes a nice transitional step from story Bible to full-length Bible. (Read the full review.)
Marty Machowski’s family study moves through the Old Testament chronologically, using short readings and engaging questions to introduce kids to every inch of Scripture. The accompanying book on the New Testament, Old Story New, is supposed to be good, too, but we’re still making our way through Genesis, so it will be a while before I can tell you definitively that it is good. (Read the full review.)
Marty Machowski again? Yes. His books are worth putting on any list about any kind of children’s Bible. The Ology is a systematic theology for kids (yes, you read that right) that introduces key doctrines in a clear way that connects for parents and children. This one, too, has short readings and solid questions, and I love it so much. (Read the full review.)
Okay, so this isn’t a book. What it is, though, is an amazing collection of videos that leads kids through the Bible chronologically, while answering questions and providing background along the way. Created by Phil Vischer, one of the original masterminds behind VeggieTales,What’s in the Bible? is one of our family’s very favorite resources about the Bible. (To learn more about where to watch it, read the full review.)
Today’s summer re-run originally appeared in November of 2016. But here it is, dusted off and ready for revisiting!May your park picnics be lovely, and may you find a new favorite Bible to share with your kids this summer.
Our girls say the Lord’s Prayer every Sunday in church and every morning over breakfast. Those who don’t yet know the words by heart know the rhythm of it and let their voices rise and fall in time with ours, and those who do almost chant them, the words bubbling up without effort from that place where such things are stored.
They know the Lord’s Prayer. But do they hear what they’re saying?
I wonder this sometimes even as I recite with our congregation. What is it we’re saying, I wonder. Do we understand? There is a discipline to memorizing Scripture, and there is a different discipline to meditating on it and absorbing its meaning. I find sometimes that reading a well-worn passage in a new translation can help me hear what I know by rhythm if not by heart.
Loved is a fresh look at the Lord’s Prayer. Like it’s predecessor Found,Loved graduates some of the text from The Jesus Storybook Bible to its very own picture book. In this case, the text is Lloyd-Jones’ adaptation of the Lord’s Prayer and it is beautiful—just the thing for helping my littlest readers understand better what that lengthy morning recitation is about. Jago illustrates it with a group of children climbing and playing and fighting and forgiving out in nature, where everything sings with the glory of God.
Loved helps train our eyes to see and our ears to hear the beauty of our God and Father. And it helps us listen again to what we say when we pray the Lord’s Prayer:
“Hello Daddy! We want to know you. And be close to you. Please show us how.”
Of all the books I’ve bought just because they have Sally Lloyd-Jones‘ name on them, this one has grown on me slowest. But when I say “slowest,” I don’t mean that I ever didn’t like it. I have loved this book since we bought it years ago. But I didn’t immediately draft a review of it or buy copies to give as gifts. What I did instead was read and re-read it to my daughters and love it with them.
Just Because You’re Mine is a quiet story featuring Little Red Squirrel and his father. As he explores the woods with his dad, Little Red Squirrel asks his dad why he loves his son so much.
“Is it because of my Super-Fast Running?” Little Red Squirrel asks. “Because of my High Climbing?”
The story follows this rhythm of question-and-answer, building gently as his father answers each question with: “You can climb high (and so on), but that’s not why I love you.”
By the end, when his father tells Little Red Squirrel why, precisely, he does love his son, the moment is deeply satisfying, as though the only response to his answer is, “Oh, of course.” It feels like the story couldn’t end any other way.
Just Because You’re Mine is a beautiful picture book, filled with Lloyd-Jones’ musical language and the warm and welcoming illustrations of Frank Endersby. This is a book not only for children, but for families: the story of Little Red Squirrel draws our eyes upward toward our own Father, who loves us not because of our Super-Great Housekeeping or our Extra-Strong Service, but just because we’re his.
My goals in life are simple: to live a life of obedience and peace in Christ; to faithfully raise our children and see them love Jesus; and to spontaneously sing “Not By Bread Alone” in perfect harmony with my kids.
I’ve been driven by this hope since the morning one daughter started chanting “cheese dip, cheese dip” during breakfast and the rest of us joined in, drawn by an irresistible urge, until we had sung the whole of “Mexican Rhapsody” (with parts! And harmonies!). That could explain why we listen to Slugs & Bugs Sing the Bible, Volume 3 on repeat in the minivan—we’re rehearsing. We’re preparing for that glorious moment when one of us leads off with “Man shall not live by bread alone . . .” and sets off a Rosenburg family flash mob.
One can hope.
But even if nothing comes of this ambition, it is no hardship to listen to Sing the Bible, Vol. 3 over and over and over again: Sally Lloyd-Jones and Andrew Peterson return on this album (huzzah!), alongside the new (to Slugs & Bugs, anyway) voices of Sara Groves, Propaganda (our new favorite!), and more. Scripture, beauty, raccoons, and hilarity ensues as Randall Goodgame offers, once again, a beautiful blend of deep and delightful songs.
There are entire passages our family cannot read without singing now, and I think that is as it should be. There is something about parts of Scripture that want to be sung—they reach us deeply, and they sometimes demand a response deeper than silent reading. Listen to “Our Struggle” a few dozen times, sing along, and then try to read Ephesians 6:12-18 without bursting into song. (You might keep your mouth closed, but you and I both know you’re singing along on the inside.)
Goodgame’s songs have a way of storing not only the words of Scripture but the energy of it in our memories. We may not be ready to debut our “Not By Bread Alone” yet, but we can certainly sing whole passages of Scripture together at the slightest provocation. And I am content with that.
Hi, I'm Théa! I review classic literature, poetry, nonfiction, fantasy, picture books—children's books luminous with grace and beauty. These are books our family loved and that I think you'll love too. Thanks for stopping by!
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