Your Advocate Ministry Team has been enjoying sharing our series of five favourites with you this summer. Today’s list of five favourite children’s bible storybooks took very little time to assemble as we kept interrupting each other trying to get our personal favourites onto the list.
As with our previous lists, we hope you’ll pop your favourite children’s bible storybooks into the comments section and tell us your reasons for favouring it over the many available for us all to choose from.
I am often asked for recommendations for children’s bible storybooks. This often happens when parents want to read great bedtime stories to their children, when grandparents are heading out to go Christmas shopping, and when a family friend wants to give a gift that will mark a special occasion. Before I launch in to sharing my list of favourites I usually begin with a few pieces of advice for anyone looking for a great children’s bible storybook.
The first is to always buy a bible storybook that is appropriate for the age of the child at that moment in time. Our goal with gift giving is to delight and draw in the child at this moment in time – not many years down the road. If a child is a baby or toddler, think about a simple bible boardbook that only has one or two sentences per story and bright and simple artwork. A board book can be held by the little one and even chewed on. If a child is older, seek out a story bible appropriate for their age and reading ability .
Second, sit down in the bookstore and read some of the stories. Particularly, read some of the more difficult stories. How does the writer share the story of Noah’s Ark, or Abraham, Sarah, Hagar and Ismael. How is the story of David and Bathsheba shared, or the story of the crucifixion? Has the author handled these difficult topics well? Are the stories age-appropriate, not only at a suitable reading level, but also wisely understanding what a child will understand, might connect with and be meaningful for them, as well as what is appropriate for a child? Have they presented the stories in ways that invite wonder and awe, or has the author told the reader what they think a child ought to learn from the story and what it should mean to them?
Third, while reading some of the stories, take time to pay attention to the artwork that tells the story perhaps more vividly than the text. Is the artwork inviting? Does it represent biblical scenes accurately and culturally appropriate? Are all genders represented? Are the pictures scary, dark, silly, mysterious, helpful, awesome?
Karen DeBoer, one of the members of the Advocate Team, has written a really helpful article outlining some of these points as well as a number of others for churches, parents, grandparents, and loving family friends to consider before buying any children’s bible storybook. As a bonus you’ll find her list of favourites at the end of the article as well. You can find her article HERE.
And so, here is the list of our favourite Children’s Bible Storybooks.
- Spark Story Bible by Augsburg Fortress. This story bible goes along with the Spark Curriculum coming out of the Lutheran Church. This story bible is a great for younger children featuring simple, bright and action-filled illustrations that accompany clearly told stories. In many of the stories the characters speak in the first person with excitement and clear language that readers will connect with. Each of the Spark stories concludes with a wondering question for children and families to discuss.
- Shine On: A Story Bible by Menno Media. This story bible, also for younger primary children, presents each story on two pages with more space given to the illustration than the story text. This emphasis on the picture invites the reader in through their imagination. A number of illustrators are featured in this book, offering a great variety of entry points for children. With Shine On, each story also concludes with a series of open-ended questions for children to wonder about. This story bible is specifically written with the hope that children and their families will read and discuss the stories together at home and at church.
- Growing in God’s Love: A Story Bible edited by Elizabeth F. Calwell and Carol A. Wehrheim. These PCUSA educators have brought together a talented and creative group of writers and illustrators to bring each of their bible stories to life. Each story is written holding biblical and historical accuracy in tandem with a wonderful understanding of the curiosity and concerns of the children who will hear and read them. Every story concludes with three open-ended questions to ponder. Readers are invited to consider what they Hear, See and might Act upon in light of the story experienced.
- Read Wonder Listen: Stories From the Bible For Young Readers by Laura Alary. Alary states that “every person who tells these stories does it in a slightly different way. And every person who reads these stories hears something a bit different. So even though these stories are very old, they are also always new.” In Read Wonder Listen Laura combines her gift for telling the biblical stories, with historical research, contemporary concerns about language, and a compassionate and inclusive theology. Ann Sheng, the illustrator for Read Wonder Listen has imagined each story accurately, colourfully, and with compassion.
- Children of God: Storybook Bible by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. This wonderfully illustrated collection offers more than fifty stories about God’s love for us and for God’s desire for us to love one another. In this work Tutu has strived to present a truly global bible for children inviting many artists from the around the world to illustrate Tutu’s favourite stories. Each of the stories are accompanied by a prayer and beautiful and diverse illustrations allowing readers to experience the story more fully.
That’s our list of favourites.
Which children’s bible storybooks make your heart sing?
Let us all know in the comments section.