Bible Reading parenting Resources

Why We Rotate Children’s Bible Storybooks and Some of Our Favorites

April 12, 2013

whywerotate

We’ve had five years of working through children’s Bible storybooks as parents, and have found several along the way that we’ve benefited from.

Most were either given to us as gifts, to review, or passed down from childhood. (And, I even found one at a yard sale. But of course! :)) So in some sense, our selection was not a set of pre-determined, pre-selected storybooks. These have served us well through our current ages, but likely we’ll diversify and add additional selections soon.

Why We Rotate Our Bible Storybooks

Once we finish reading through a Bible storybook, we move on to a new one, and continue rotating and cycling through multiple Bible storybooks.

We like to keep things simple, and are working toward being more minimalist. So, it would seem to make sense to just find one Bible storybook we like and stick with it. However, there are several reasons why we choose to use multiple and rotate through them:

1. They are, as notated in the title, Bible storybooks. As such, they are merely compilations of Bible stories, and not the entirety of Scripture. (Some of the included use only Scripture selections as their text, but still do not contain the whole Bible.) We emphasize to our children that they don’t contain all of God’s Word. Different Bible storybooks select different portions to highlight or even quote from, and by exposing them to multiple Bible storybooks, they are exposed to some portions and stories that are “left behind” in other storybooks.

2. Rotating provides variety in illustrations. Illustrations play a huge role in children’s books and Bibles. My husband Daniel wrote a more detailed post on that here. (He recently finished writing the draft for a children’s Bible curriculum and is currently working with his company and an illustrator, so the topic is very much on his mind, both as a writer and a parent.)

3. Rotating gives a variety of emphases. We use a mixture of older storybooks and more recently published Bible storybooks. We use storybooks that focus on an overarching thread that runs through Scripture, and we use others that focus in on the individual Bible “stories.” Others emphasize certain theological truths that seem to be more obscure in others. None of these includes all of these emphases, yet they all serve to further round out our understanding of God’s Word.

Our Most Frequently Used Children’s Bible Storybooks

bigpicture

1. The Big Picture Story Bible

Pros: This is a particularly helpful “big picture” (gospel-focused) Bible for very young children. Our 3 and 5 year old are growing to the point where this is really a “little kid’ story Bible for them.

Cons: The Big Picture Story Bible focuses on the big picture, yet it leaves out some of the expected Bible stories that children of our generation were always quite familiarized with.

jesusstorybookbible

2. Jesus Storybook Bible

Pros: As the subtitle reads, “every story whispers his name.” This is a Bible story book that quite clearly points to Jesus the entire way through. Although this is a children’s Bible, it is not so in the same way that The Big Picture Story Bible is, and this should be something we can use even as our children grow older. (It’s been great for us to read as adults, too!)

Cons: We’re not fans of the illustrations. Illustrations are very important in children’s books, and particularly so for Bible storybooks. Additionally, with this Bible, the writing style is flower (comes across far more so to my husband than it does to me), and the stories seem to take greater literary license than may be appropriate. (E.g., “God said, ‘Hello light!’ and light shone…”). Since children’s minds function initially in black and white, it may not be best to state that God spoke words that the Bible does not give us record of. Similarly, some of the illustrations may come across as irreverent to some. (At the same time, in our opinion, this Bible storybook is probably the one that best encapsulates the thread of the Gospel running through Scripture.)

egermeier's

3. Egermeier’s Bible Story Book

Pros: Classic Bible story compilation.

Cons: The illustrations are beautiful, but particularly if you like a caucasian Jesus. If not, just another reason to keep rotating through.

esvillustrated

4. ESV Illustrated Family Bible

Pros: Great illustrations, plain Scripture selections

Cons: May not be more difficult for small toddlers to understand.

thebibleinpicturesforlittle

5. The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes

Pros: simple, short, has questions

Cons: varied artwork, some below par. Sometimes the questions ask about themes that are not actually the main thrust of the “story,” and sometimes the questions are tinged with moralism. Views the Bible as sets of stories, rather than an overarching theme.

readwithme

6. Read with Me Bible: An NIrV Story Bible for Children

Pros: colorful, expressive pictures; retains mostly the text of the NIrV

Cons: perhaps exaggerated or cartoonish illustrations

childrensdailydevotional

7. The Children’s Daily Devotional Bible

Pros: Contains helpful elements such as prayers and application sections; includes sections from the entire Bible, not just the stories

Cons: Lacks narrative cohesion, the translation used is not a widely used one, albeit understandable.

toddlersbible

8. The Toddlers Bible

Pros: simple, good mostly for very young babies and toddlers. We used this Bible when our girls were very young and learning to sit through church, and it captivated their attention well at the young ages.

Cons: Extremely simple.

(There is an animal on every page, and when my girls were very young, this was the main thing they saw first. I guess that could be a pro or a con.)

godslove

9. {Bonus} God’s Love: A Bible Storybook

We have this Bible storybook in iPad app form, so it’s not one we actually use for our evening Bible time. (However, it is available in paper book form, though we’ve not yet made that investment.) It is essentially an audiobook with slightly animated illustrations, and very well done, both theologically and artistically. Additionally, the narration is appropriately dramatically read.

In fact, it is probably my favorite children’s app. Both of my girls love this, but our three-year-old finds it particularly engaging. This is an app that I wished existed, and was delighted to find this one fit what I had been searching for. It is a paid app, currently $3.99.

Types of Storybooks of Which I’m Skeptical

Although there is something in most Bible storybooks that I wish were different, there are certain elements that make me choose not to use a Bible storybook entirely:

1. Bible storybooks that mix fiction characters with Bible stories.

2. Bible storybooks with illustrations that focus on violence or present as primary themes themes that aren’t true to Scripture. 

At this season of life, our children are not in any preschool Bible classes or Sunday School classes (they worship with us in a main worship service), so (at the time that this is written), the entirety of their religious education is parent-directed. To a degree, this can sometimes feel like a huge burden on us as parents; yet, we are thankful for these resources that give us tools to enhance the spiritual education we endeavor to give to our children.

Do you use multiple Bible storybooks? What are some of your favorites? 

 

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  • Elisabeth April 12, 2013 at 11:44 am

    Keren, thanks for this thoughtful post. We were just evaluating children’s story Bibles last night (the Big Picture Story Bible and the Jesus Storybook Bible, in particular). We own both and find that we’re liking the Big Picture Story Bible better so far. It’s a great biblical theology for children and parents!

  • Johanna Hanson April 12, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    I agree that rotating is really important. I am sometimes surprised at what stories are left out if certain Bibles, but then again I know that you someone has to choose so it’s up to the writer to decide.

    Thanks for the recommendations. Some of them were new to me.

  • Karen April 15, 2013 at 9:29 am

    Hi-interesting post-I think the way your teaching them is very good. The illustrations are very important–my mom read the Maxi and Mini Muffin Books (by V. Gilbert Beers) with us and I can still remember the beautiful and expressive pictures. I really liked those books because though it did have fictional characters, they weren’t mixed into the Bible stories–you read the Bible story first, and then the fictional story, but the fictional story always corresponded with the Bible story, showing children a practical application of the Bible truth. I also remember they did have questions at the end of both stories, I don’t know if they were particularly “good”, but I do remember thinking I wanted to really listen so I could get them right. We also had a collection of the Archway Books (I believe that’s the publisher); these were individual stories that we read independently, probably at 3rd-4th grade.

    I’ve really enjoyed your posts, Keren!