Kids Bible Review: The Beginners Gospel Story Bible
There appears an endless choice when it comes to children’s Bibles. If only there were an objective ‘best’ one. But each family and each child has different needs. Accuracy? Number of stories? Length? Illustrations?
So how should you choose one that’s right for you? We’re going to work our way through and review a number of Kids Bibles, using a set of criteria to help you choose one that will meet your needs.
The Beginners Gospel Story Bible by Jared Kennedy is a toddler-friendly version of Marty Machowski’s Gospel Story Bible.
This is a Bible aimed at the pre-school-early infants age. As with most books in this age bracket, it suits younger ones listening and looking at the pictures, and older ones perhaps reading some of it for themselves. Our four year old has quite enjoyed listening to it, and identifying some of the words.
Length of readings
Each story is about 3 double-pages in length. They are quite consistent in length, which means some stories are summarised quickly, whilst others (eg. Jesus welcoming the little children) are drawn out perhaps a little too much. Thankfully, the pages are well spread out with text and images. Some pages might have up to a paragraph or two, and a couple will have a single, short phrase. As I’ve said of other books, the consistent length of each story is a major plus when it comes to including reading as part of a bed-time routine with small children.
Ease of reading
It’s an enjoyable, easy read, despite getting into some complex ideas. Each story attempts to draw out a key thread or promise from the story, which is captured in a neat little phrase somewhere within the story. These little nuggets could provide some good memory hooks to engage kids with further (though I haven’t done this myself as yet).
It seems they’ve tried hard to avoid big words, and they’ve done a great job at this overall.
Breadth of stories
There are 52 stories here – 27 from each testament. It covers a good range, including some of the less common stories of Hannah, Jeremiah and Nehemiah from the Old Testament, and Peter’s dream of the unclean food in the book of Acts.
There’s nothing from the New Testament letters, apart from a single story on Paul, and a concluding story on Revelation.
The illustrations could best be described as being beautifully minimal. Clear, solid colours help keep the focus on the main parts of the story. Occasionally, they do some clever things in integrating the words with the illustrations, which helps draw you in further. Overall, it’s simple but extremely effective.
One of the main purposes of this kids Bible was to help keep the overarching story of the Bible front and centre. And this it does with excellence. Through the Old Testament stories, the last little thought bubble in each gives us a glimpse of how this points us to Jesus, or how things have changed because of him.
There’s a clear intent on seeing how the story carrys from Eden to the new creation, and this is captured quite well. It’s as good at doing Biblical Theology in a Bible story book with young children as I’ve seen. In contrast to something like Sally Lloyd-Jones’ Jesus Storybook Bible which is almost more Biblical Theology than Bible stories, this Bible largely within the boundaries of whatever story your currently reading, and then aims to put that in context.
Ever picked up a story book on Noah, and found that the reason for the flood is completely ignored? Some kids Bibles do a lousy job at communicating sin, preferring to retell ‘classic’ stories, or emphasising a moralistic reading.
The Beginners Gospel Story Bible does a great job at attempting accuracy in it’s retelling. As implied by the name, it is keen to get at the ‘gospel’ of the Bible. At a number of points, it challenges readers and listeners to consider where they stand with Jesus in gentle but prodding ways.
One of the great parts about this Bible (in my opinion) is the last paragraph thought bubble in each story (which is a kind of continuation of the reading). Here, the author attempts to help us ground the story in our own lives. Sometimes it simply helps us see how Jesus fulfills this part, sometimes it pushes us to consider how we might respond appropriately to this particular revelation of God, sometimes it calls for repentance and prayer. There are some great little bits of gold here that help bring the story to impact our own world, and all in age appropriate ways.
It’s a good size, with beautiful and bright colours. The minimalist illustrations are rather appealing to me, and a pleasant change from most kids Bibles and other Christian books I’ve read. Very nice.
This is an excellent kids Bible. It’s probably my new favourite for this age bracket. It’s short, consistent length of stories, clever use of illustrations, and the way it brings it all to Jesus – all these make this a very good Bible for young kids. It’s a little on the pricier side, but one I’ll be recommending strongly.