2023 Update: This book appears to now be out of print for new copies. Used copies are available on Amazon and AbeBooks. Eden.co.uk and Waterstones have these books on their sites and ask that if you are looking for a copy to inform them so they know there is a demand.
I’m always on the lookout for new things to help families do faith at home, and I’ve had my eye on this one for a while. I’ve finally got my hands on a copy, and I have to tell you, I like it!
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- 6ish years) 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: 2023 update: variable.
Buy from: Amazon
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, http://improvehearingnaturally.com it’s not quite Playing ALL the way through the Bible! The story re-tellings are good – short and simple, with words in bold that “lend themselves to being acted out” and there are 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 give 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 in fact 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 are 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.