From time to time, I get asked this question: Which Bible would you recommend for young children?
It’s quite a personal thing, so I’d recommend getting a variety of Bibles, as this helps children to experience the Bible in different ways, through different lenses. Every Bible translation comes with the bias and assumptions made by the translators and editors, and this is even more true when it comes to children’s Bibles, which are re-told stories. It’s an important thing to realise, and hearing Bible stories told in a variety of ways with a variety of artwork can help even young children begin to recognise the part that humans play in the passing on of Bible stories.
That said, what you really want to know is what I recommend.
When my children were little, we really liked reading The Big Bible Storybook. It was written and edited by a lady I know and worked with. She has a degree in theology and is an expert on under 5s spirituality, and had a list of 27 questions she asked of each story before including it. She’s particularly keen that under 5s are taught stuff they have to unlearn, and the images are all created of the ‘God moment’ in each story. This creates a different set of images than the usual ones. Have a look through the book and you’ll see what I mean.
Another one which got well-read in our home is Children of God by Desmond Tutu. I loved the varied artwork in this one, as well as the alternative view brought by an African editor/writer, and African artists.
I know lots of people like The Jesus Storybook Bible. It is beautifully written with wonderful illustrations by Jago. However, my children found it all a bit contrived how every story finished with a ‘and this is just like Jesus’ paragraph. Personally, I feel it isn’t very respectful of the Old Testament and our Jewish heritage to make everything about Jesus. Everything is about God, and Jesus is God, but it doesn’t all have to be explicit. Certainly, my Jewish friends would find it rather insulting.
In the end, it’s up to you what you pick, but if you can, get a few, use them all, and enjoy the variety.