There are nearly as many children’s Bibles out there as there are children. Well, perhaps that’s a slight exaggeration, but the fact is, trying to pick one out can be overwhelming. Or, underwhelming, once you start looking at them more carefully. There are so many options, and so few of them are good. I thought I’d share with you a few of the factors I look at when choosing a Children’s Bible, and then a couple of recommendations for good ones.
1. Is it interesting to your kids? If the kids don’t like it, the remaining questions here are null and void. If it won’t hold your interest it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on.
2. Is the content accessible to their ages? In other words, can they understand the language? Are the stories the right length for them?
3. Which content is there? Which stories are included? Children’s bibles range from lots of stories to just a few. Some children’s bibles – even the extensive ones – will limit themselves to the ‘easy’ stories, the ones that are easy to put at a child’s level. Others include the harder stories – like the crucifixion and other less happy topics. (And why is it that children’s bibles so seldom have the story about the donkey God made talk? Kids love that.)
4. Does the theology gel with yours? Any time you work with a paraphrase of the bible there will be room for an interpreter’s slant to come in. Some bible are equally applicable to Santa, Superman, and the Fairy Godmother as they are to God. Does the faith you want to instill come through in the text?
So, given those considerations, these are the 3 children’s bibles
we love (age recommendations are mine, and might not correspond to the publishers’):
Each of the 17 stories in God is Great takes a 2-page spread with 8-10 lines of text – just enough for my toddler to digest. Each story focuses on one attribute of God – He was here in the beginning, He protects us, Nothing is too hard for God, and so on. The illustrations are delightful and I love how the focus is constantly on God. What’s more? My toddler loves it. (Ages 1-3)
Pre-K, Early Elementary
The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name is my all-time favorite children’s bible. I had a pastor once who said that everything in the bible is about Jesus, even if it’s not about Jesus. It either prepares people for him, foretells his birth and life, or defines a need for him. I didn’t fully understand that until I started reading this to my kids. It opens up a whole new outlook on redemptive history. Why else do I love this one? My kids love it. Bean read it cover to cover when she was 5, and she still likes to flip through the pages and re-read her favorite stories. Little Man takes it to school with him, asks me to read it at bedtime, and wakes up wanting to hear more. It covers tough topics – things parents might want to skip over when their little ones are really little, but tells every story framed in hope and thanksgiving for the God who loves us with a Never stopping, never giving up, always and forever love. (Ages 3-6)
Someone gave us the NIrV Read with Me Bible when we were overseas in Moldova. I had low expectations, since I’d already found the Jesus Storybook Bible. And it’s true – this Bible doesn’t “whisper his name” like the Jesus Storybook Bible, but my kids preferred it for a good long time, and as it turns out, it’s a pretty great bible. It has 106 stories, which is huge as far as children’s bibles go. The illustrations are phenomenal, and the stories are told in a way that’s accessible, thorough, and engaging to young readers. (Ages 5-8)