The Big Bible Storybook by Scripture Union. I love this one and have used it along with the matching board books since my children were very young. However, having used this for 4 years, we’re now looking for something with more detail. (This store book Bible is great for not teaching things you’ll need to unreachable later, which is one of my biggest prerequisites for a childrens Bible and it has an unabridged audio version which is also fab).
Also recommended is the Jesus Storybook Bible which has fabulous illustrations and a great dvd to go with it However this is very much a retelling and provides an interpretation to every story in a way which I feel sometimes reduces the strength of very rich, ancient stories. I often like what it says but sometimes find the way its written suggests there’s only one meaning in a story, and one way of thinking about God (theology) which I don’t really think is true.
I really like the Bible translation the Contemporary English Bible which I use (with generous permission) in all my GodVenture books (link). It’s a particularly good translation for reading out loud and works well in an intergenerational setting and is available on www.biblegateway.com
However most Bibles are a bit big for a young reader, with tiny text and no pictures. So I made something for my almost five year old daughter – a Bible journal using CEV text but leaving big spaces for her notes and pictures.
This is the way I often read, study and meditate on the Bible, reading large chunks then writing and drawing parts which jump out at me, as well as comparing different translations and original texts.
I made the journal in a larger font than any bible I’ve seen for children and used one with the right type of ‘a’ (important when children are learning to read) as I wanted it to be something I can read to her and she can start to read on her own as her reading skills develop. I’ve left half a page to a double page spread blank for her after every story-ish, and I’ve printed it with photobox (with a sale voucher).
So far we’ve read Genesis 1 and 2 and she’s drawn 3 pictures. I don’t suggest what she should draw, but in a Godly Play way I leave it to her to decide, which gives her space to develop her own thoughts about and relationship with the text and the God who’s story it is. Sometimes we talk about it, sometimes we just draw (me in my own book as this Bible journal is hers). The third picture she drew was of a bottle of my perfume, Princess, in response to Genesis 2 describing a land called Havilah as having ‘rare perfumes’. So cool.
What ways have you found to engage early readers with actual Bible text?