Today I am guest posting at When You Rise where I am talking about connecting the dark parts of Scripture with the light of the Gospel for our children. It is often hard to figure out how to connect each story (especially the ones that record death and judgement) in the Bible to the gospel message–especially when children’s Bibles tend to present each story as a separate moral lesson. How do we connect a story like Cain and Abel to Christ rather than simply presenting it as a warning against jealously and murder? Thankfully we are blessed to live in a time when some really great resources for parents and children are available! Here are two of my favorite children’s Bibles that keep your child’s focus and your focus on the Gospel:
“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24: 27 ESV)
Sally Lloyd-Jones’ children’s Bible has quickly become a favorite among Christian families with young children and there are good reasons for that. Aside from Sally’s profound storytelling talent, this particular Bible is known for its ability to focus every Bible story on Jesus and his rescue plan to save his people. At the end of each story is a connection to Christ–either describing how Christ is seen in the story, how he fulfills the story, or how he is the point of the story. It is a beautifully written narrative that magnifies the unity of Scripture and helps children (and adults alike) to see how “every story whispers his name.”
What I love about it:
- The large and diverse amount of Bible stories it recounts. Many children’s Bibles only contain the typical, child-friendly stories, but Sally chose to share stories of all varieties, including the ones that you might not have previously felt comfortable reading (for instance Abraham being asked to sacrifice Isaac).
- The beautiful storytelling. Sally Lloyd-Jones has an incredible ability to convey passion and heart through even the simplest children’s story. She truly captures the emotion of these Biblical stories and allows the reader to experience them with her.
- Every story has a Christ-connection. You cannot read this Bible without your affections for Christ being stirred.
- The colorful artwork. The illustrations are very colorful and captivating to children.
- Because Sally Lloyd-Jones is basically acting as a storyteller as she writes, some creative license is taken. While there are no examples of outright error in her children’s Bible, there are some points where her own interpretation of biblical events may contradict your own. It is therefore important that you not treat this storybook as Scripture.
- While the illustrations are colorful and beautiful, some of the stylized people are a bit odd looking. The book’s illustrator, Jago, is definitely not going for a realistic look. This doesn’t bother my children, but at times bothers me.
This storybook Bible written by Marty Machowski is fast becoming our family’s go-to children’s Bible. While it shares a similar purpose as The Jesus Storybook Bible, its narrative stays much closer to the Scriptural accounts of each story–so much so that it actually uses word for word quotations from the ESV as the stories are told. What we find most helpful about this story Bible is the understanding of biblical theology promoted throughout its pages. What do I mean by that? Well, each story is told within the larger context of Scripture. You are not told the account of the Abrahamic covenant without also being taken to Romans 4:22-24 where Paul tells us that it was Abraham’s faith in the promise that was counted to him as righteousness. This particular explanation goes on to say that if we place our faith in Christ we too will be counted as righteous. Every story has similar connections to the Gospel that are not simply the author’s interpretation (as is sometimes the case with The Jesus Storybook Bible) but are biblically stated as such.
What I love about it:
- The straightforward, easy to read accounts of the Bible stories. Though some words or terms may be above our children’s heads at times, you don’t feel as though the Bible is being “dumbed down” for your little ones. Rather, you feel as though you are actively teaching your little ones the Bible as you read.
- The use of the ESV text. This is our family’s and church’s Bible translation of choice, so it is helpful to have a children’s Bible that uses word for word quotes from that version as well.
- The gospel connections. Every story is related to corresponding passages in Scripture and helps to explain the gospel to our children. More than anything I want to pound these truths into my children’s hearts and this is one way that we can do it every night!
- “Let’s Talk About It!” questions for each story. Every story has a section of questions to ask your children to encourage discussion, understanding and application. These are really helpful questions–especially for the littlest ones whose minds may have wandered off during the story!
- Because the stories are more straightforward, they tend to be a bit drier than the ones found in The Jesus Storybook Bible. Marty Machowski’s writing, though more biblically accurate, is not nearly as poetic as Sally Lloyd-Jones’.
- There is only one illustration per story while there is quite a bit of text to get through. This may make it difficult for the littlest of children to stay engaged. For this reason we read this Bible to our children while they are settling into bed. We have found this to be particularly helpful to keep them focused on the story and also give them time to calm down before going to sleep.
- The illustrations are VERY stylized. If this was a slight drawback for The Jesus Storybook Bible, I would say it is a major drawback for The Gospel Story Bible. Many of the illustrations are difficult for my boys to even comprehend so they don’t add a whole lot of value to the Bible itself.
I highly recommend you get a copy of this story Bible for your family. It will be a great help to you as you seek to teach the main point of Scripture to your children and be a great encouragement to your own soul as well! You can purchase The Gospel Story Bible through Amazon by clicking here or through WTSBooks by clicking here.