Children’s Bible surprises with depth and insight
Children’s Bible: English Standard Version (ESV). (Crossway, 2005) $25.
Our two reading-age children already had their own copies of the “Classic Pew and Worship Edition” of the ESV Bible, and were putting them to good use.
But one day their cousin Conner showed up with a fancy-shmancy new Bible. Their fascination with his fancy new Bible piqued my own curiosity, especially when I saw it was the ESV edition.
My first thought was skepticism because the term “Children’s Bible” often means something less than an entire Bible. Toddlers can have their Bible picture books, but once a child learns to read they need the entire canon placed in their hands. Marcion would be pleased to see the reluctance of many to give their children the Old Testament. So, it was to my surprise that I found this edition contains all sixty-six books. A real Bible!
Next, I assumed that it would be full of cheesy pictures lacking any historical realism. You know the kind I am talking about – Noah’s ark looks the size of the S.S. Minnow from Gilligan’s Island, and yet a pair of curiously smiling giraffes still manage to stick their heads out the window.
But the goofy pictures are not in this Bible. Instead, there are 214 color illustrations that elicit aesthetic enjoyment even while employing historically accurate details. Each picture contains a caption of explanation and a reference to the story being illustrated. This invites the children to find the passage and read.
Each chapter number is printed in red with a large font, and a header bar runs across the top of every page letting the children know exactly where they are in the Bible. Each book opens with a brief paragraph of introduction.
A back section of “Bible Study Helps” contains helpful material on theology, salvation, how to read the Bible, and an encouragement for Bible memorization. There are charts for daily Bible reading and a list of “Fighter Verses” for memorizing. A dictionary of key Bible words explains terms in simple language.
We ended up buying copies for each of the three older boys even though the youngest isn’t quite a reader yet. Only my toddler was without a copy, something he duly noted with displeasure. A simple protective Bible cover completed the gift to them.
The boys were so excited about the new Bibles they carried them around everywhere they went. The child-friendly aspects were not lost on the boys. They turn to passages more efficiently now. The illustrations captured their imaginations, and prompted them to much reading. Now, when I come home I am immediately greeted with, “I read a chapter of Dabiticus!” or “Daddy, my favorite book today is Ruth.”
Putting aside the sappy stories about my kids for a minute, let me encourage you to pick up a copy of this Bible for a child in your life. With God’s blessing upon your gift, a child’s soul will be blessed eternally as they begin a lifelong intake of His Word and find Christ in the scriptures.
A hearty “Thank You” goes to the team at Crossway for producing an excellent edition of the Bible for our children. (Scott Lamb is one of the founding pastors of Providence Baptist Church, St. Louis, and is a regular book reviewer for The Pathway. To respond to this review or to read about other books, visit www.AChristianManifesto.com.)