Two years ago, I had a long conversation with a local bookstore owner about children's bibles. It was he who explained to me the difference between the ICB (International Children's Bible) and the NIrV. I've written several posts that reference these two translations (see http://lovetopaint.blogspot.com/search?q=NIrV). To quickly summarize, the NIrV is a simplified version of the NIV and the ICB is a thought for thought paraphrase. After my conversation, my husband and I decided to purchase an NIrV for our 6 year old daughter. It was a little above her reading level, but we knew she'd grow into it. She did the next year. We wished at the time that we could get her a copy of the ESV, but the only one available for children didn't have notes that would be helpful to her at her age. My husband struggled though because he really wanted Autumn to read from the ESV.
Last month, Crossway published a new edition of the ESV for ages 8-12. It is called the Grow! Bible. I saw an ad for it and my curiosity was piqued. For the past month, I've been looking through this Bible and have been very pleased. The first day it arrived, Autumn was so excited. She wanted to read the same Bible that we do at church. Though she had never expressed this to me, I learned that she wanted to be able to follow along when the Word is read at church on Sunday morning. Our church reads from the ESV and it was difficult for her to follow in the NIrV.
So here's what I love about the Grow! Bible:
Formatting: The font, though 9.5, is big enough for my daughter who in 3rd grade is a strong reader. The columns are spaced well. The notes highlighted in a way that makes them easier to read. Each book in the Bible begins with a helpful timeline and introduction which my daughter found interesting and easy to understand.
Features: There are interesting notes throughout the Bible. There are Cross Connections that address how different passages remind us of the cross and salvation. There are notes about what God's Word means for you (the reader). My favorites are the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How notes. I was surprised at the interesting information children will learn when they read them. Some examples are a note explaining "woe", another explains "the stump of Jesse", and another explains what "the end of the heavens" means. Many of them I had no idea about! There is also a glossary and maps located at the back of the Bible. All of them would be perfect for an 8-12 year old and very easy for them to use.
Theological content of the notes: Concordia Publishing collaborated with Crossway on this Bible. The notes were written by Concordia, which is a Lutheran publishing house. I wondered how this would affect the notes--particularly the "Cross Connections". I read several of the notes very carefully--particularly the note on how we are saved. It was very well written. There was one note about baptism and salvation, which many denominations see differently. I read it to my husband and although it doesn't align exactly with what we believe since the PCA practices infant baptism (but doesn't believe it's a saving baptism), he did feel that what was written didn't contradict what we believe and that it was written well. He did note, though, that the note was written from a general reformed perspective. I felt as I read the note that whether someone was a free will baptist or believed in predestination that the theological ideas in the note would be okay. The wording on this specific cross connection was such that it did say we are saved by grace through a decision we make. It didn't go into detail of how those work together--but simply that they do. I think this is wise of the publisher and authors of the note, because it allows parents to more fully explain what their child may read in the study note.
So, what Bible might I compare this to for other translations? Probably the NIV Adventure Bible. The NLT Hands-On Bible is also aimed at the same age group. My husband and I much prefer the Grow! Bible for a couple of reasons. 1) We're glad that it's the ESV translation so our children can follow what is being read in church (and they're glad too). 2) The notes are primarily purposed for instruction, not entertainment. They are meant to be interesting and helpful, but not solely for the purpose of entertainment. 3) The study notes are much more in line with what we believe than the other two. I reviewed the Hands-On Bible a long time ago. I liked it and saw it as a great fit for many families--but not for ours, primarily because we don't read the NLT.
If you're looking for a new Bible for your child, I'd definitely recommend taking a look at this one! It might be what you're looking for if you want an ESV Children's Bible!
Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this Bible from Crossway Publishing.