Saturday, 04. October 2014 by Renee Ellison
Recommendations of the best Bible books for very young children
Before sharing my list with you, here some general comments about reading the Bible to very young children.
First: You want to create a love of the Bible, not just knowledge of it. To accomplish this, in the beginning, use the best illustrated children’s Bible versions that you can get your hands on. Avoid scary or mean-looking versions or the other extreme of fantasy-type-Hollywood illustrations. If you are deliberating between two versions, pick the one with the best pictures. The pictures are educating the child’s right brain and hooking his emotions. What those pictures portray is very important.
Second: Do not be adverse to dividing the children’s Bible into four parts, and actually taking it apart at the spine and making it into four separate lighter book sections. You would then take those loose pages to your local printer to have them spiral bind those four littler books with a little wire binding for each book. This makes it easier to turn the pages, because they will now lay flat as you read them (the book doesn’t continue to flop shut) and enables you or the child to hold less weight in your/their lap. It is worth it to do this to a book that you will use every day and perhaps over and over again with a number of different children. If you buy the book used to begin with, the total cost of the book (including the added expense of the wire binding) is not much.
Third: Consider finding and purchasing used children’s Bibles from thrift stores, second hand book stores, or Bookfinder.com or Abebooks.com online (the Amazon.com links below are just to help you start your search). If and when you do so and the book is in your hands, try to smell older Bibles to be sure they do not have mold on them from having been in a person’s basement, for example, which makes reading them unpleasant. Whenever you find a good children’s version, consider purchasing it so that you have plenty of Bibles to give away to children who come across your path.
Fourth: Read the Bible to your child until he/she is able to read well by himself/herself—i.e. the child has been thoroughly trained in phonics (we offer you excellent resources for that). Then he can begin to read easy versions and gradually work into more difficult versions over the course of his youth. Teach him to underline verses in his Bible that strike him, personally. Eventually he can write down one thought or one verse from his daily devotions in a little notebook that he keeps alongside his Bible.
Here, now, is a list of some different versions, with a note as to the best suggested use for each version. The first one described below is especially useful if you only have a small amount of time with youngsters (for instance, you get to teach your pagan neighbor’s children and their parents don’t care what you teach them, or you get to spend a week with visiting unbelieving relatives’ children or grandchildren whose parents will let you read anything to them, or you have the opportunity to influence other children for a short duration), pour as much Bible into these children as you can in the time that you have spiritual influence over them.
+ The Children’s Discovery Bible: Discovering God’s Word for the First Time (authors: Charlene Hiebert and Drew Rose; Chariot Victor Publishing, 1996)
Your goal is to try to familiarize the child with all of the Bible stories as speedily as possible. To do that, you have to find the easiest and most concise version you can. In addition, you want to rivet the children’s attention upon what you are reading. To accomplish all of this optimally, use this version. Each page is 2/3rds picture and 1/3rd text. You can cover all the Bible material speedily by dividing the book into the number of days you have with the child, making sure that you keep up with reading each day’s section each day, to finish the book in good time.
- + My Bible Friends (5 volumes; author: Etta B. Degering)
This is a five-volume series with extraordinarily good illustrations. The pictures are bold, very colorful, winsome, and old-fashioned. Children love this introduction to the Bible. They will beg you for more stories from it. Beginnings are so important. You couldn’t do better to begin introducing your children to the Bible than with this series. It lays the best foundation possible.
- + The New Panorama Bible Study Course (author: Alfred Thompson Eade, 1947; look for a used copy of this one)
This is a pictorial representation of the entire Bible that you can walk a child (or an adult) through in about five minutes. It gives a wonderful survey as rapidly as possible, that one never forgets.
- + The Catechism for Young Children with Cartoons (2 volumes; Vic Lockman)
This is an easy way to cover the 100 basic questions about Christian doctrine that need to be a part of every child’s spiritual training. In the Puritan times instructors and fathers trained first graders with the questions from the Westminster Catechism, in not such a winsome fashion as this. Nevertheless, children learned them and recited them. These little books simplify the process and are a real gift to modern families with young children who want to raise them solidly in the Christian life.
- + A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories (author: Arthur Gross, 1948)
- + Egermeier’s Bible Story Book (author: Elsie E. Egermeier)
- + The Child’s Story Bible (author: Catherine F. Vos)
- + The Picture Bible (Chariot Books)
This book is excellent for an older elementary student or a junior high student, on up in age.
- + The Bible Story (10 volumes; author: Arthur S. Maxwell)
I have heard of a family who read through this series again and again for a total of eight years. This special series beautifully shapes any home’s spiritual life. Illustrators from over 11 different denominations contributed excellent artwork for the series. The stories are captivatingly summarized.
- + Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories (5 volumes; author: Arthur S. Maxwell)
Arthur Maxwell is a master story teller. These stories are true, and point out some character challenge and victory in a little story the child can identify with. His stories are gripping and keep the child’s interest at high levels. They serve to shape the child’s own character in a happy way.
For further Bible reading:
Following all of this good biblical exposure, the child is ready to read a real translation of the scriptures himself, and continue into more and more difficult versions for the remainder of his life. For an accurate translation, in good English that is accessible to most modern readers, you may want to consider the New American Standard Version.