Friday, January 28, 2011

Bible Storybooks

I have to admit that when a new picture Bible storybook comes out I am always curious about how it will be different from others that we've read as a family.  Today a new one arrived in the mail.

The Beginning Reader's Bible, illustrated by Marijke ten Cate is a little different than other Bible storybooks we have in our house.  I mistakenly assumed that it would be a Bible storybook for early readers, written at a 2nd or 3rd grade reading level.  I did note that the description mentioned that it had excerpts from the ICB, but I assumed these were short.  In actuality, the text is almost entirely excerpts from the International Children's Bible with illustrations.  There are verses in boxes for almost every lesson that are good to repeat and memorize with your children.  There are also scattered boxes titled "Do God's Word" which include ideas for activities to reinforce the theme of the passage or to explain a theological concept such as sin.

At first, my daughter didn't like the illustrations because they weren't neat--every hair wasn't in place like most books she reads.  We talked about it and I explained that their hair is drawn that way to illustrate the blowing of the wind and to illustrate that it was or wasn't still.  After she understood this, she liked the pictures much more. I was actually quite impressed by the illustrations.  Here's one example of the illustrator's attention to of the illustrations shows Sarah spilling the tea as she was eavesdropping on her husband and laughed.  We don't know if she did this, but I can imagine it happening and the illustration does imprint on my mind that she was focused on overhearing the guests and her husband--which the Scripture says she was doing.

The formatting of the book is very nice.  It's a large book and is easy to read, though the font size is probably a 12 or 14.  It would be nice for a third grader and maybe a strong second grade reader to read.  But, I don't think I would describe it as a "beginning reader's Bible".  It is a nice Bible storybook to read with your children when they have outgrown younger Bible picture books, but you don't feel ready to read the entire Bible with them yet.

The Bible is the Bible and Scripture is Scripture.  The one thing I would note is that a few of the "Do God's Word" thoughts didn't quite sit with me.  Sin is explained this way:  "Sooner or later, everyone does something that they know they shouldn't do.  That is called Sin.  The next time you do something wrong, if you will simply tell God about your sin and you are truly sorry, he will forgive you.  He will wipe it all away--just as if it had never happened!" p.128  Yes, sin is when we do things wrong--but what is wrong is to disobey God--that is sin.  It is important to know that we ourselves do not determine what is right and wrong.  God is our compass.  The heart is deceitful above all else.  I believe it is important for children to understand that.

There are several additional pages after the stories which include The Lord's Prayer, the 10 Commandments, the 23rd Psalm, and others.  I felt unsure as to why they included a memory verse chart.  As a parent with multiple children, I wouldn't use the chart at the end.  The very last page also needs to be mentioned, though.  It is a prayer of salvation.  Many churches instruct children to pray "the sinner's prayer".  It is the same prayer that is gone through at altar calls.  I haven't attended a church in several years that teaches this, but my girls go to church for Awanas that does.  Each family has beliefs about this prayer and whether or not children should follow this formula.  I think it is a matter of personal preference.

Aside from the Do God's Word thoughts, it is a very nice book.  I do like it.

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Thomas Nelson Publishing.

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