Recently I was invited to review the Classic Bible Storybook.
Classic Bible Storybook is a collection of more than 120 stories written by Kenneth N. Taylor, translator of The Living Bible and best-selling children’s book author. Inside you’ll find:
Each story presents the accuracy of God’s Word in language children can understand.
The illustrations are realistic and will capture the imaginations of both young and old.
Comprehension questions after each story reinforce the themes and help readers engage with the text.
It’s the perfect book to help children learn to love and reverence the Word of God.
My first experience with The Living Bible was a hardback green pocket edition of "Living Letters". This was Kenneth Taylor's paraphrase of the Epistles. Honestly, I didn't give it much thought. I was raised in a King James Version household. The New International Version (NIV) came out when I was in college, and my mom was not thrilled when I switched. But, I recently learned that Kenneth Taylor didn't originally intend to paraphrase the Bible. He started out writing out books (Epistles) in his own words for his children. Eventually, this led to a paraphrase (and more recently, a translation) of the entire Bible.
The Classic Bible Storybook is a hardcover edition with 121 stories on 270 pages. The pages have an aged look. (Similar to tea dying). The stories are fairly short (1-3 pages) with great pictures. If you had a children's Bible 30 years ago (at least that's when I got mine) you will recognize the artwork of Richard and Frances Hook. The pictures vary in size (from small inset to full page) and color (full color and grays). My favorite feature is 3-4 relevant questions at the end of each story. (i.e. Why did Jonah try to get away from God?" and "Why was Jonah angry that the people of Nivevah were sorry for their sins?) Each story includes Scripture references.
Okay, enough of the facts. What did the kids think?
I started reading from the beginning of the book (usually a good place to start!). My kids (3, 5 and 11) sat and listened well. Okay...the 5 and 11 year olds sat well. The 3 year old rarely sits still! I was impressed with how much detail the stories included. The information was presented in a way that was clear to understand, but it didn't "water down" the Gospel. (This was important to me, as I mentioned, with my lack of positive exposure to The Living Bible.
After a few nights of reading, I decided to go head-to-head with the Jesus Storybook Bible (JSB). I started with the story of Daniel, and then Jonah. Each night, I read the Jesus Story Bible version, followed by the Classic Bible Storybook (CBS). The JSB had full color pictures on each page, and the author took some liberties with the story. The liberties did not, in my opinion, "dumb down" the material, but it did make it more like a story book. When I read the same story in the CBS, I was surprised that my kids didn't mind fewer pictures (1-2 on most stories). The CBS gave more details. For example, in the Jonah story, the JSB ends with the people of Ninevah confessing. But the CBS went on to tell of the vine that grew and died, and ultimately, Jonah's choice to see God's heart for the lost. The questions (see above) took us to a discussion about praying for terrorists to come to know Jesus. My 5 year old said, "So, bad people can become good people if they love Jesus?" Yes. She gets it!
The Classic Bible Storybook is a great way to share the stories of our faith in a way our children will understand. I'm looking forward to many more nights reading these stories to my kids.