Tag: story bible

An Incomplete List of Bibles for Kids (Sorted By Age)

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.

An Incomplete List of Bibles for Kids (Sorted by Age) | Little Book, Big Story

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 8 and under, my list is woefully short on anything targeted at children over age 8. Sorry about that.

But these are our favorite Bibles for kids:

Story Bibles for Readers 5 & Under

Read-Aloud Bible SToriesby Ella K. Lindvall

lindvall-ella-read-aloud-bible-stories-3

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.)

The Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones

The Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones | Little Book, Big Story

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.)

The Big Picture Story Bibleby David Helm

The Big Picture Story Bible, by David Helm | Little Book, Big Story

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.)

The Biggest Story, by Kevin DeYoung

The Biggest Story by Kevin DeYoung and Don Clark | Little Book, Big Story

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.)

 

Story Bibles for Children 5-8

The Gospel Story Bible, by Marty Machowski

The Gospel Story Bible | Little Book, Big Story

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.)

Tomie dePaola’s Book of Bible Stories

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

Tomie DePaola selected stories from the Bible, illustrated them, and arranged them in a way that reads like a story Bible but features the full NIV text for each story. (Read the full review.)

The Jesus Storybook Bibleby Sally Lloyd-Jones

The Jesus Storybook Bible | Little Book, Big Story

Because, honestly, this book is amazing at any age. (Read the full review.)

 

Full Text Bibles for Children 5-8

ESV Seek and Find Bible

ESV Seek and Find Bible | Little Book, Big Story

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.)

The Big Picture Bible

 ESV Big Picture Bible | Little Book, Big Story

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.)

ESV Children’s Bible

The ESV Children’s Bible is classic and simple. Full-text, some illustrations, no frills. Our church keeps this one on hand for kids to read during the service, and it’s a good one.

Resources for Studying the Bible With Kids

Long Story Shortby Marty Machowski

Long Story Short, by Marty Machowski | Little Book, Big Story

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.)

The Ologyby Marty Machowski

A systematic theology for children? Yes, please! Introducing The Ology, by Marty Machowski | Little Book, Big Story

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.)

What’s in the Bible?  (JellyTelly)

What's in the Bible? DVD series | Little Book, Big Story

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.)

What about you? Which Bibles do your kids love?

Read-Aloud Bible Stories | Ella K. Lindvall

You know what reading to a two-year-old is like: if a book is about cows or kittens or is written by Sandra Boynton, I find I can usually make it through three or four pages before Phoebe tugs it out of my hands, closes it on my fingers, or wanders off to climb on something.

Read-Aloud Bible Stories, by Ella K. Lindvall | Little Book, Big Story

But the volumes of Read-Aloud Bible Stories are not about cows or kittens, and they are not written by Sandra Boyton: they are about Jesus and the Bible. In them, Ella Lindvall tells the stories of Scripture in the most basic yet enchanting way imaginable, and when I read them to Phoebe on the morning of her second birthday, here is what happened: she listened. She cuddled up to me as I read all five stories, and she listened. Lydia and Sarah, too, inched closer to us as I read, and all three were disappointed when we reached the end and had to go eat birthday pancakes for breakfast (theirs is a hard lot).

Read-Aloud Bible Stories: great story bibles for toddlers! | LIttle Book, Big Story

By the end of the book, the stories’ magic had worked on me, too: Lindvall doesn’t grasp for big theological ideas here, but tells the familiar stories of Zaccheus or Blind Bartimeus in a warm and welcoming way. She draws lessons from the stories that appeal to the smallest readers (and to those of us grown-ups still willing to admit that we need reassurance sometimes that God hears us, too).

Read-Aloud Bible Stories, by Ella K. Lindvall | Little Book, Big Story

I haven’t found many Bibles geared toward toddlers that are worth sharing here on the blog—it’s hard to capture the truth and beauty of Scripture in three stanzas of rhymed verse, and you can only appropriately add so many cows and kittens to beloved Bible stories—but Read-Aloud Bible Stories are absolutely worth sharing. We promptly ordered the second volume (Merry Christmas, Phoebe!) and look forward to collecting the rest of the set over the next few years.


Read-Aloud Bible Stories
Ella K. Lindvall (1982)

The Biggest Story | Kevin DeYoung

Every now and then an author best known for writing nonfiction tries their hand at writing for children. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.

Authors accustomed to writing for adults sometimes think that writing for children means “say it slowly and simply” and so they distill big concepts down into pre-digested bits. Madeleine L’Engle thought differently. In Walking On Water, she wrote,

“When I am grappling with ideas which are radical enough to upset grown-ups, then I am likely to put these ideas into a story which will be marketed for children, because children understand what their parents have rejected and forgotten.”

The best authors understand this, whether they make it their business to write specifically for children or not.

The Biggest Story by Kevin DeYoung and Don Clark | Little Book, Big Story

But Kevin DeYoung gets this. The language in his first book for children is simple, but the story is grand: in the “Note to Parents,” he shares that the book began as a sermon series shared with his whole congregation, not as a Sunday school lesson aimed at kids. He acknowledges that some of the images and allusions will be difficult for children and parents to grasp, but he doesn’t apologize for it.

Instead he aims high and presents a book that is not based on a particular Bible story, nor is it a story bible. What it is, I suppose, is a picture book about the entire Bible. DeYoung breaks the story into chapters and covers many of the best-known Bible stories, but he shows how they each have a place in the story that the Lord is, even now, unfolding.

The Biggest Story, by Kevin DeYoung and Don Clark | Little Book, Big Story

The illustrations in this book deserve extra praise: Don Clark’s work is phenomenal. Every page is gorgeous—beautifully designed and vividly illustrated—but I want to give him extra credit for illustrating some of the more abstract elements of Scripture in a way that is striking. Take, for example, the picture of the world after the entrance of sin:

Before the Flood, from The Biggest Story, by Kevin DeYoung and Don Clark | Little Book, Big Story

Or this one of the Resurrection:

The Resurrection, from The Biggest Story by Kevin DeYoung and Don Clark | Little Book, Big Story

His renditions of familiar stories give the stories new life. Look at his interpretation of David and Goliath:

David and Goliath, from The Biggest Story by Kevin DeYoung and Don Clark | Little Book, Big Story

And of the Nativity:

The Nativity, from The Biggest Story by Kevin DeYoung and Don Clark | Little Book, Big Story

But while the addition of a book so beautiful in both form and content to our family’s library is something to celebrate, the real celebration at our house this week is in honor of Sarah, who has gone from this

Little Book, Big Story

to this

Little Book, Big Story

in what feels like a matter of moments. Don’t tell her yet, but this book is one of her gifts! We’ll celebrate her birthday by eating ice cream sundaes in our pajamas, riding bikes crazily around the block, making pancakes and mac-and-cheese, curling up on the couch and reading book after book after book—in other words, living the dream life of this particular five-year-old. It’ll be great.

One last thing

I know there are a variety of opinions out there on how Jesus should be depicted in illustrated books, and this book deals with that subject gracefully. The Spirit is shown as a dove and God the Father as a blazing light, while Jesus remains compellingly just off stage. Whatever your convictions, this book should suit them.

The Biggest Story by Kevin DeYoung and Don Clark | Little Book, Big Story


The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden
Kevin DeYoung, Don Clark (2015)

The Gospel Story Bible | Marty Machowski

Today’s summer rerun—and this is the last one!—originally appeared on May 31, 2013.


We live in an exciting time, folks. Say what you like about information overload or environmental threats or the public school system—when it comes to story Bibles, we live in a great time. There seem to be new story Bibles published each year, of such a depth and quality that we, as adults, are blessed by them! Kids like them, too, of course, but when I sit and read to my children and know that I’m not only hearing old tales retold but am being reminded of the One who originally authored them, I know that something fabulous is happening in my heart and in the little hearts beside me.

We have many story Bibles, but find ourselves returning to a proven few: The Jesus Storybook Bible, The Big Picture Story Bible and today’s guest of honor, The Gospel Story Bible.

In his introduction, Machowski says, “It’s possible to simplify Bible stories so much that you edit out important gospel connections to God’s larger plan of salvation . . . Old Testament stories point forward to Jesus. New Testament stories point to the cross. The goal is to thread each of the 156 stories like beads on the silk thread of the gospel, creating one picture with them all.”

Isn’t that beautiful?

What we love best about this Bible is the fact that it represents a vast swath of Scripture, including stories that are often glossed over or ignored by other authors. I mean, there are six stories about Jacob alone, whose questionable choices leave him somewhat under-represented in children’s literature, as well as passages from the prophets and a few of the less savory moments from Israel’s exile.

Even the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is included, in a graceful telling that leaves out details of the cities’ explicit sins and focuses instead on the fact that the people rejected and despised God—in the same way that we all have. “We want to stay in our world of sin,” Machowski writes, “so God reaches down and gives us the faith we need to believe. Then God draws us away from sin to the safety of his Son Jesus.”

I respect an author who doesn’t shy away from the more challenging parts of Scripture, but who tells them well and uses those stories to display, again and again, the goodness and grace of God and his unswerving plan to redeem his creation, no matter how far we fall, or how fully we deny him. These challenging stories give rise to interesting discussions, so be prepared to engage with your kids: you can’t get away with reading one story, snapping the book shut and bundling them off to bed. Your kids will ask questions.

In fact, Marty Machowski seems to anticpate that, and at the end of each story he includes three simple questions, usually based on the story’s illustration. Our girls love these, and this allows us time to discuss the contents of our reading at its close. In fact, one daughter knows that there are three questions, and if we ever skip one, she is quick to call us out.

The illustrations, by A.E. Macha, are unlike anything I’ve seen: simple and intricate in turns, they hold our daughters’ attention and embellish each story well. Personally, I’m not always sure that I like the style of the drawings but I am consistently drawn to them, if you know what I mean. And I love the overall palette of the book: bright, strikingly bright, but with deep, dark accents as well.

If you find that your family is ready for a new story Bible, I heartily recommend this one. It takes time to read the whole thing through (there are so many stories!), but as you do, you’ll find yourself getting a clearer picture of the whole of Scripture, bead by shining bead.

The Gospel Story Bible | Little Book, Big Story

Do you have a favorite story Bible? I’m always on the look out for others!

The Gospel Story Bible
Marty Machowski, A.E. Macha (2011)

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)

Psalms for Young Children | Marie-Helene Delval

When it comes to the Psalms, I’ll be honest: they contain certain passages that aren’t exactly suited to small ears. And somehow, like a ship out of the fog, you never quite see those passages until they are upon you. (Not sure what I mean? Read Psalm 139. I’ll wait.)

So, an adaptation of the Psalms is nice, especially one as well-edited and beautiful as Psalms for Young Children. Delval does a lovely job of retaining the humanity of the Psalms, including some of the emotionally dark ones alongside the happy, sparkly Psalms of praise, in a way that keeps the heart of each passage beating.

Psalms for Young Children | Little Book, Big Story

Like storybook Bibles, this book is not a resting place but a springboard into relationship with the full book of Psalms, and I like that: we have a five-year-old and a three-year-old, so we deal with a lot of emotion in the course of a day. It’s helpful, then, to show our girls that, hey! People are pouty sometimes. King David was pouty sometimes. But still, he praised the Lord.

But as I said: springboard. We tend to read these at the table, where they serve as a nice segue into reading a full Psalm or two from “Papa’s Bible.” Discussion ensues. And the springboard of Psalms for Young Children has served its purpose.

Psalms for Young Children | Little Book, Big Story


Psalms for Young Children
Marie-Helene Delval, Arno (2008)

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)