Ok, first here’s a summary for those of you who like bullet points:
Title: Play through the Bible
Author: Alice Buckley
Useful for: families with young children (age 1- 6 years ish) looking for fun, play-based ideas to share Bible stories
Best bit: colourful design and loads of Bible-linked play ideas for young children
Worst bit: text a bit small
Price: RRP £8.99 Available from the publisher for £7.46
Buy from: The Good Book Company
Now, I’m a fussy customer and a publisher, so the production values of this book which most people might not even notice mean a lot to me: the high quality print, the matt cover with glossy circle with the title in all say to me, “This book is good.” What else would you expect from The Good Book Company? 😉
I was delighted that the book is bigger than I’d imagined from pictures, somewhere between A4 and A5. It’s got 64 full colour, bold, colourful and well designed pages.
Anyway, what you are probably more interested in is what’s in it? Well, in simple terms it has 20 re-told Bible stories with ideas for both telling the story and story-related play.
Apart from saying it’s ‘A Beginning with God’ resource for parents with ‘young children’, the book doesn’t specify an age-range, but I’d say 1-6-ish, with obvious variance for personalities, preferences, faith-journeys and family-shape.
Although I’m sure many people will flip straight to the stories, I really liked the introduction, how to use this book and tips pages, especially the way they acknowledged the difficulties facing families wanting to share their faith with their young children, and made sure to say that while aiming to read the Bible regularly is good, “let’s agree not to guilt-trip when we miss a day (or week, or month)”. Big thumbs up from me.
The Bible stories are all from the book of Luke, so if you were hoping to cover Leviticus and Ezekiel with your family, it’s not quite Playing ALL the way through the Bible! The story re-tellings are good – short and simple, with words in bold which “lend themselves to being acted out” and there’s even action suggestions at the back for each of these words. As with all re-tellings, there’s a theological slant, which is just worth being aware of. This is true of all children’s Bible stories for this age, as a bit of explanation can be really helpful especially when shortening the stories from the Bible version, and also to given meaning and relevance to the stories. Personally, I’m happy with this and just make sure we do Bible stories from a range of Bible versions and so make ourselves open to a range of Biblical interpretations. Other parents I know choose to use books which reflect their theology. It’s up to you what you do.
Each page also has some ideas on figures and props you could use to tell the story and some tips for story telling, and six ways of playing in a way that’s related to the story. Some of these are more linked than others, but all could inspire exploration and conversation about God. The ideas are accessible to even quite young children (under 2s) and most don’t require much if any preparation and materials (e.g. using cushions on the floor to pretend to be in a fishing boat). A lot of them are things which I can imagine our family doing, or infact things our family does. This book helps build links between normal activities and God’s story in the Bible.
My only concerns would be that the text is a bit small (or am I getting old?!) and that there’s so many lovely activities that tired parents might be overwhelmed with the choice or feeling guilty for not doing more of them. But maybe this isn’t really a problem with the book, but with our guilty-parent-tendencies. And maybe a Facebook page or podcast with regular ideas from the book might be a way to drip feed these ideas into our busy lives.
Thank you for a great resource, Alice.