My five year old has insisted I read this Bible to her. ‘Dad, can you read this to me?’ ‘Can we read another one?’ I have to agree with her judgement – it’s a good read.
So I thought to share my reasons why I recommend this.
First, because of the danger all kids’ Bibles face. It’s so easy to teach Christianity as about rules and behaviour, rather than a relationship that flows from God’s grace.
This is a danger all children’s ministry faces. The easiest thing in the world is to teach kids to be little legalists. If anyone can truly teach gospel grace to children, they are able to teach anyone!
The Big Picture Story Bible is admirable in avoiding legalism and pointing to God’s grace in Christ.
(This is worth testing in your local setting. Ask your own family or Sunday school little ones, ‘What makes someone a friend of God?’)
Back to the book. Here are some of the positives:
- It always keeps the big picture in mind. The whole Bible is heading towards or pointing back to Jesus. This kids’ Bible does the same with repeated and consistent language. For example, many of the individual stories mention ‘God’s forever king’
- Helpful concepts are also repeated. For example, the idea of sacrifice for sin crops up in a few places and these are brought together to help explain the death of Jesus
- It covers the whole Bible (as far as possible in the format). It’s from Genesis to Revelation. It includes mention of the intertestamental period. It explains something of the New Testament epistles, despite not being able to deal with them in detail
- For Jesus’ life, it mainly follows one gospel – John. I like this, because each gospel has its own shape and it’s good to follow that shape. Young readers will, it is hoped, grow to read each of the four gospels.
(Note: Christmas is covered, so obviously John was not the source here. Only Matthew and Luke discuss Jesus’ birth in detail.)
- It does not avoid the reality of death and judgement. The last section, on Revelation, even explicitly mentions the place of hell as well as the new heavens and the new earth
- The illustrations support and expand the text.
Support: by using repeated and consistent images that the text suggests.
Expand: by adding some details that the text cannot fit in. These can add to the reading experience for older readers, or any who know the stories a little better. For instance, Jericho’s wall has Rahab’s red cord illustrated, though it’s not described in the text
Do I have any criticisms? Only quibbles, really.
- Section 23, ‘God’s Promise is Explained’ (Jesus’ post-resurrection teaching) would be better if the text explicitly returned to God’s promises to Abraham and David – too much was left to the pictures
- I don’t know why the Christmas story tries to read the feelings of people on the road to Bethlehem for the census (unhappy, mad, frowned, angry, grumbled). Unlike modern writing, the Bible rarely comments on feelings. When it does it’s all the more powerful. These seemed alien and distracting
In summary: The Big Picture Story Bible is a resource worth getting and using.