God’s Big Promises Bible Storybook (Book Review)
Calling all grown-up pastors: here’s a review for you. Hint: it’s a children’s bible.
Woah, just hold your horses. Before you switch off or simply forward the link to your Sunday School deacon or youth worker, let me persuade you why this is a review you need to read.
Remember the calling of a leader? It’s to shepherd the sheep. It’s to care for them, teach them, nurture them – in short to present the glorious message of the scriptures to them. Even shorter – to show them Christ. And it’s why church leaders of all kinds should have an awareness of children’s bibles.
In fact, there are two parts to this justification.
First, we want to be those who are concerned for the little ones in church. They may not be members, paying into the church coffers. But they are much in our care as those who are.
Second, you are also to help adults who have responsibility for families (parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles, carers) fulfil their obligations; knowing about children’s bibles (and other kids’ literature) is one of the ways you can serve them.
Good. Now we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about children’s Bibles.
Children’s bibles and Bibles
There are some objectors at this point, and maybe you’re one of them. A children’s bible, they say, is not a Bible.
I agree. It is not. And it’s sometimes unhelpful to pretend that it is.
But we’re not about to give toddlers an ESV and say “feast on that!” In Sunday School or toddler group we find age-appropriate ways to teach Bible truths arising from Bible stories to children.
As parents – those of us who are – we do this with children on our knees. In fact, every time we sing them Fishers of Men or Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho we’re doing just that.
But let’s for now assume we know what we mean when we say “children’s bibles.” And if you’re okay with that, let me suggest that we all wrestle with the same essential tension: faithfulness vs accessibility.
We want a children’s bible to be faithful to the Bible story. This means trying to be – as far as possible – representative of the whole Bible, not just focused on Genesis and Jesus. We want Ezra (can I hear a shout for Ezra please?). We want prophets. We want letters. We want Revelation. We know it can’t do everything as it is not a Bible. But we want content to be just right.
And - in our evangelical world where we understand how biblical theology shapes the narrative – we want a dose of that thrown in too.
However, we want something children will like looking at. Don’t underestimate this. It’s one of the huge benefits of Zondervan’s Beginners Bible: nice pictures, simple text.
Too much to ask? Drawing these two together doesn’t always result in happiness. I can think of resources that I LOVE as an adult but which have left my children non-plussed. In fact, the more ‘arty’ they are, the less appealing they can be to children.
Faithful and delightful
At last, this brings me to a new offering from The Good Book Company: God’s Big Promises Bible Storybook. Quite a mouthful. But – I want to say – quite a book!
The text is gloriously faithful, written by Carl Laferton. The pictures are delightful. Simple but engaging for little ones (I’ve done a bit of road testing).
There are 45 Old Testament chapters and 47 New Testament chapters – so, a good mix. Including Ezra, some prophets (though brief), some letters, and Revelation (though also covered briefly). Then there are some tracks to follow through: a rescue path (read these stories….); a people path; a land path; a joy path; a king path; and then ‘one big story in 20 stories’. A reading plan for kids! Each story is connected through some page icons to one or more of these big themes.
This book is a great idea, really nicely executed, and matches our current way of thinking about Bible narrative with the right kind of artwork.
Full disclosure – The Good Book Company sent me a copy (at my request) so I could look at it. But I then loved it so much I bought one for each of my grandchildren.
And when someone next comes up to me at church and asks “can you recommend a children’s bible?” this is the one I will point them towards. There are some samples online and some other downloadable resources to go with it.
And they even – to the naysayers delight – call it a ‘Bible storybook’ not a ‘Children’s Bible’.
Great stuff. Gets my vote.
You can order a copy for £11.99 (RRP £16.99) from The Good Book Company, alongside a host of free downloadable.
Use the code bprofiec50 at checkout to receive 50% off the RRP. This deal is available for the duration of 2023.