Our very own children’s librarian, Rebecca Barth, has prepared a description of recommended children’s Bibles.
Bible Choices for Any Age
Ages 4-8… Pre-K-3rd Grade
Growing in God’s Love: A Story Bible
by Elizabeth Caldwell & Carol A. Wehrheim (editors)
(Given to 2020 Kindergarteners)
I like the story book feel. This version is particularly good for little people since the stories are short (1 page) and the pictures are engaging enough to last the whole story – and art is multiracial. I liked the discussion questions at the end of each story – related to the story but not really theological (“Hear,” “See,” “Act”). It is organized in O.T. and N.T. but not at all in chronological order, following themes vs. chronology. Later N.T. books (epistles) are all done thematically e.g., “A Loving Heart Helps Others,” “One Church,” etc.
Children of God Storybook Bible
by Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Again, I like the storybook feel – even the size and shape evokes “storybook.” The stories are VERY short (a little too short for my taste), but still manage to capture the “gist” of the action and message within. It provides a good introduction to the most basic characters and moments of the Bible. Additionally, it follows the Bible chronology and even includes something from Revelations! The illustrations are the real winner of this book. Archbishop Tutu had 20 different artists contribute – encouraging them to represent their own cultures/styles in their illustrations. Therefore, variety and diversity in the final product is fantastic.
Laugh and Learn Bible for Kids: The Gospel in 52 Five-Minute Bible Stories
by Phil Vischer (Illustrated by Michael K. Foster)
This is my favorite of this age group selection – LOVE! I’m a big fan of the author (Veggie Tales creator). It is a very simple layout, though the level of writing (vocabulary) may require adults to read to children initially while they are improving their reading skills. This Bible is different in that the author uses a LOT of explanation in telling the stories. Summary explanations, discussion/action points, and suggested prayers close out each Bible story, making this a great book to use for a family devotional. It follows the Biblical chronology. Illustrations are very cartoonish, which will especially appeal to young children. They loosely attempt to be racially diverse (as much as a cartoon can be).
The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name
by Sally Lloyd-Jones (Illustrated by Jago)
This book offers a solid and pretty easy-to-understand theological foundation/introduction for the young reader. It puts the Bible in a focused Christian, big-picture context, which is a great way for little people to gain an understanding of what can otherwise be a confusing book (and offers great language for grownups to explain “the point” of the Bible to their little people. The stories are told very simply and kept in a general Bible chronology. The illustrations are pleasant and colorful – racially diverse but Jesus is definitely white. I thought the crucifixion illustration was a little graphic. This book doesn’t deal with the N.T. epistles, but it does tell the Saul/Paul story & Revelation.
Read And Learn Bible
by American Bible Society (Eva Moore)
I like the simple layout with short stories that are easy to read, especially for emerging readers (written in a way that children can read to themselves vs. being read to). Not a comprehensive Bible, but the stories that have been chosen are told in Bible chronological order. The illustrations are cartoonish,
which can be appealing to young readers. Unfortunately, characters are all depicted as white. Finally, it has a wonderful section in the back written especially for “parents” that are topical, e.g., “Facing Fears,” “Share Your Gifts,” “Worship,” “Prayer,” etc., that can provide a nice launching point for discussion.
The Complete Illustrated Children’s Bible (The Complete Illustrated Children’s Bible Library)
This is the most comprehensive choice, having much more Bible content in it, though each story is still very short. It also has a “Bible feel” in size and shape, which might be really appealing to any child wanting to feel like a grown up. The vocabulary is more advanced, so grown-ups will initially need to read to children. The layout generally follows basic Bible chronology, though it puts Psalms and Proverbs between the two testaments. It includes a Holy Land map at the beginning of each testament, which I LOVE in that it gives kids context and perspective! The artwork is beautiful and engaging but unfortunately depicts all characters as white.
Ages 8-14…4th-8th Grade
NIV, Adventure Bible, Paperback, Full Color
by Zonderkidz (publisher)
I like that this is the actual text of the NIV Bible (vs. Bible storybooks for younger children). I also has pop-out texts throughout that either expand explanation, elicit response or provide memorization opportunities. This pop-out texts are a great way to visually break up what can be for some kids
overwhelming tiny text on a page. I wish the cover illustration and some of the internal illustrations weren’t quite so “young” because I think the content is fantastic for 7th & 8th graders, though they may be self-conscious by the illustration. I LOVE all the resource material in the back – subject index; dictionary; activities index; MAPS!!
NIV, Kids’ Visual Study Bible, Leathersoft, Bronze, Full Color Interior: Explore the Story of the Bible—
People, Places, and History
by Zondervan (publisher)
Again, I like that this is the full NIV text of the Bible. It has contextual questions & answers, along with artwork, provided in the margins as you read, which provides a good visual break to the text. There are also lots of maps interspersed throughout and at the end. Each book begins with helpful introductory info, and there are great indices at the back of the book. No overall timeline? , which can be so helpful to kids as they try to put thousands of years of history in context. The cover is unassuming – so you could give to an older “kid” (7th & 8th grade) and have it be accessible without it looking childish.
The Action Bible
Illustrated by Sergio Cariello
Kids are SOOOO drawn to graphic novels that this is an attractive choice. While I’m not personally a fan of graphic novels, the basic telling of the stories is fairly decent – told in Bible chronological order. What I was bothered by (yet again) is that all the characters are depicted as white (with beards). Since as a graphic novel illustrations are everything, this was an frustrating choice on the part of the artist. Again, this is a great choice for the kids who are huge graphic novel fans.
Ages 15-21 – High School/College
NIV, Quest Study Bible, Hardcover, Blue, Comfort Print: The Only Q and A Study Bible
Christianity Today Intl. (editor)
This is one that is probably best for kids on the older end of the spectrum – 8th-12th grade. Definitely in the realm of “grown up” Bible. Honestly, it would make a great gift for anyone (adults included) who is new to the church or to Christianity in general. No cute pictures or pop-outs to break up the text. However, the margins are chock-full of context questions and answers that anticipate what a person reading that particular section of the Bible might want to know. Each book has a brief introduction that includes Who, What, Where, When, Why sorts of information – including a timeline (which I LOVE!) There are also short thematic articles sporadically placed throughout – “Problem of Sin,” “Biblical ‘Prosperity’” etc. Finally, there are good indices and lots of colorful maps at the end (also tiny maps interspersed throughout).
The Message Devotional Bible (Hardcover): Featuring Notes and Reflections from Eugene H. Peterson
by Eugene Peterson
(Given to 2020 Confirmation Class)
What sets this version apart is the writing. While other Bible have marginal resources to help explain, Peterson’s prose is the strongest point of connection for the reader. That said, there are still pull-out text boxes throughout the Bible that offer additional explanation or opportunity for reflection. But this is a devotional Bible, so the focus is much more personal – how what you’re reading affects the living out of your faith. Each book has an introduction, pulling out a devotional theme for that book. The indices in the back are also less about study (definitions, etc.) and more about faith practice – including various Bible reading plans. This is a good choice for someone already well-versed in Bible stories (Bible literate) and interested in a maturation of their faith.
Amazon.com: Miracle Man: The Story of Jesus (9781419718991): Hendrix, John: Books
Go and Do Likewise! The Wisdom of Jesus: Hendrix, John: 9781419737053: Amazon.com: Books
Miracle Man: The Story of Jesus
Go and Do Likewise!: The Parables and Wisdom of Jesus
(both by John Hendrix)
These are simple picture books – but I found the artwork beautiful and captivating. The artist’s style is to
use lettering creatively. The illustrations provide a lot to look at and be surprised by each time a person
engages with these books.