Oct 6, 2009

Choosing Children's Bibles

When I was a child, I had one Bible that served me throughout my entire childhood until I got my first "real" Bible. At that time, there were only a handful of children's Bibles available on the market. But today, there's a plethora of children's Bibles - and you may be surprised when I say I think your child needs more than one.

As a Christian mother, one of your most important tasks is to teach your children about God. You can do this by reading your own Bible out loud, but this shouldn't be the only tool you use. Children greatly enjoy having their own Bible, and small children are more likely to comprehend what's being read if the Bible contains kid-friendly pictures. Yet even if you read a children's Bible to your kids every day, they may soon become weary of it.

Instead, I suggest keeping at least three age-appropriate children's Bibles for your child. That way you can rotate them, and the stories (and their meaning) stay more fresh.

When to Start Reading the Bible
It is never too early to begin reading the Bible to your child. Studies show that infants who are read to develop better language skills - and why read them only secular stories? After all, isn't the Bible a lot more important than nursery rhymes, the alphabet, colors, and shapes?

For babies and toddlers, choose Bible storybooks with colorful and engaging pictures of animals and children. Very small children often prefer very small books that are easy for them to hold, but the most important thing Bible storybooks can do for this age group is introduce them to the major stories of the Bible, in addition to actual Bible verses.

A few Bibles for this age group that I recommend:
Little One's Bible Verses by Stephen Elkins
The Busy Bible by Judy Starks
My Very Own Bible by Betty Fletcher
Bible Stories for Tiny Tots by Kobus Sandenbuergh

Children between the ages of three and five still usually want excellent, colorful illustrations, so look for something with pictures on every page. The Bible stories for this age group can be up to four pages long, depending upon how long your child's attention span is. Bibles that have easy questions for you to ask your child can be helpful.

Some recommended Bibles for this age group:
My Read and Ryhme Story Bible by Crystal Bowman, Cindy Kenney, and Christiane Engel
The Big Picture Story Bible by David R. Helm
The Beginner's Bible by Kelly Pulley
The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones

As your child begins to read on her own, choose at least one Bible with easy sentences. Many Bible storybooks for this age group also include activities to make learning more fun. When your child is ready for a Bible without pictures, choose something with modern language (like the NIV), which will increase your child's comprehension.

Recommended Bibles for gradeschoolers:
The Big Picture Story Bible by David R. Helm
The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones
The Classic Bible Storybook by Kenneth N. Taylor

Tweens and Teens
Children in this age group must be actively involved in choosing their Bibles, so make some selections ahead of time, then let your child make the final choices. The best Bibles for tweens and teens are "study Bibles," which contain useful commentary and notes to help your child understand the Bible more thoroughly.

Some recommended Bibles for tweens and teens:
The Adventure Bible (NIV) published by Zonderkidz
The Student Bible (NRSV) published by Zondervan

For More About Children's Bibles...
including tips for buying them and reviews of the best on the market, be sure to check out my blog Christian Children's Book Review.

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