It’s All About Jesus: Bible Storybook Review

its-all-about-jesusBeing a parent, I know the following to be true: It’s always a blessing to find kids’ books that help us faithfully teach the Bible. But the search for such finds is not always easy. Often faith based books are so stuffed with round, pink, and purple animals that the Bible appears to be on odd Fairy tale that mentions things like say the destruction of the world. On the flip side, other resources can be so rigid that they reach our kids’ ears with all the familiarity of Shakespearean English. Finding books that both honor the authority and the power of the Scriptures and that connect with our kids’ senses has proven to be difficult task for many publishers and parents. Thankfully, LifeWay via B&H Publishing is truly beginning to master this magical art. And, LifeWay’s newest Children’s Bible, It’s All About Jesus: Bible Storybook, is a truly one such great find! I would encourage families with young children to grab a copy of this book.

Here’s why:

What is It:

its-all-about-jesus-1This wonderful new kids’ Bible consists of 100 chronological stories (50 from the Old Testament and 50 from the New Testament) that seek to help our children understand the scope and sequence of the Bible.  Each story is three pages long. The first page lists the Bible story’s title, its location in the Bible and a picture. The stories also have a Christ Connection Circle that shows how the story connects to the greater gospel narrative. For example, when discussing the story of Esther, the Christ Connection points out that the queen’s rescues the Jews from death in the same manner that “God raised Jesus from the dead and defeated Satan once and for all.” And each story is adorned with a question circle that relates the story back to our kids by asking them things like the following: “What home has Jesus promised to those who trust Him; Jesus’ family reminds us of God’s faithfulness. How has God been faithful to you;” and “What are some ways people try to be right with God apart from Jesus?” The stories combined with their colorful presentation and the helpful circles, create a wonderful resource that both proclaims the gospel through the narrative of the Scriptures and that connects with kids’ visual senses. The book truly deserves to be linked to the long line of The Gospel Project for Kids products from which it was born.

What To Like:

its-all-about-jesus-2The book has great content. The stories in the book are almost direct copies of The Gospel Project For Kids’curriculum minus the craft and game ideas. As a result, you know that the message of each story is closely tied to Scripture. Interpretive remarks are kept at a minimum and Bible citations are frequent! And if you have questions about the story, you can look up the references listed at the top of the page.

By buying this book, you secure access to several years’ worth of Sunday school content. You can integrate this into your kids’ ministry and/or your homeschooling curriculum. Or you could simply read the book to your kids at night to reinforce what they are learning at church. Moreover, the Christ Connections and the question circles help you to further engage your kids with the Bible. Because of the content alone, this children’s Bible should be considered by all parents.

But thankfully the content does not stand alone on dull, empty pages. The children’s Bible is colorfully designed. Every page contains some bright and engaging art work consisting of a picture, a Christ Connection Circle, or a thumbnail of a story’s larger picture. Every page provides young readers with several things to look at as their parents handle discuss the story. This Bible is designed to help capture those every wandering little eyes so that its message can go forward.

What Not to Like:

Overall, this book is hands down one of the best Children’s Bible in print. The book’s only failings come in relation to its big brother, The Big Picture Interactive Bible Story Book. The Big Picture Interactive Story Bookfirst Big Picture Bible has many more stories. It tackles things like the Psalms and the books of Hosea and Obadiah. The Big Picture Interactive Bible was the first kids’ Bible that actually tried to touch on all 66 books of the Bible. But because the It’s All about Jesus Bible Storybook covers only 100 stories, it cannot cover the Bible in the same detail as its predecessor. A few stories had to be scrubbed out such as Amos, Habakkuk, and some others (mostly Old Testament Stories).

I presume that much  of this switch is due to the fact the LifeWay restructured their second cycle of The Gospel Project for Kids curriculum so that 1.5 years is spent in the Old Testament and 1.5 years is spent in the New Testament. For what it’s worthy (and it’s not much), I preferred having the curriculum reflect the Bible by spending more time in the Old Testament than the New Testament. (Obviously, I lost that debate.) And now it’s time to move on.

Although its content is slightly diminished, this new Children’s Bible is still by far one of the most comprehensive kids’ Bibles out there, touching on David’s sin with Bathsheba, some of the minor prophets, the Parable of the Tenants, Paul’s Ministry, and much much more.

Moreover, this book’s new illustrations, the larger format of the book, and its more kid friendly layout make it much easier to use with younger kids than its predecessor. It truly is improvement over its big brother.

Closing Thoughts:

This is a great children’s Bible. If your church is using The Gospel Project For Kids, you will want to have this book at home. With it on your shelf, you will be ready to review what your kids learn at church and discuss the Scriptures with them in a meaningful way. And even if your church doesn’t use the Gospel Project, you will still want to grab a copy of this children’s Bible. It is the best mix, of Scripture and kid friendly illustrations to date. Thus I think it’s fair to say that this may be the  number one Children’s Bible currently available!

Are you ready to get one?

What Children’s Bibles Do You Prefer?

5 Bibles Great Bibles For Kids!

Trying to pick out your child’s first real Bible, can feel like trying find a ball in a ball pit. There are so many options, it can be hard to know where to begin. Today, I want to share with you my top five Bible for kids: (If you are looking for children’s Bibles checkout my reads page here)

ESV Big Picture Bible

esv-big-pictureIf your kids have grown up reading the Big Picture Story Bible, they will like the Big Picture Bible.  This English Standard Version (ESV) translation is full of illustrations taken from the Big Picture Story Bible. Some are a full two pages. Other are nestles within the text. All of them are tied directly to a verse or surround passage. And as an added bonus, all the chapter headings are printed in pink or purple. As your children read the Bible, they will love the colorful pages.

The Bible’s negative qualities are related to the fact that it has no notes, maps, or articles. The Bible does not help children study the Bible. And kids could outgrow the childish format of the Bible quickly.

With that being said, the Bible is still a great option for preschoolers and younger grade schoolers, especially since more and more pastors are starting to preach out of the ESV. It is by far the most colorful edition of the ESV to date. Click here to learn more

 

The Big Picture Interactive Bible

big-picture-interactive-bibleThe team at Lifeway has infused its popular Gospel Project Bible Sunday school curriculum into this colorful Bible. Available in either the New King James Version (NJKV) or Holman Christian Standard Verision (HCSV), this Bible is full of notes, pictures, maps, questions, and diagrams that help children understand how all of the Bible is connected to Christ. And the editors also included sections that highlight key verses to memorize, that offer definitions for “Big Words,” and encourage kids to see how Old Testament relates to the New Testament through “Seeing the Big Picture.” The Bible is stuffed with  great content, colorful illustrations, and pictures of historical artifacts. Both older preschoolers and grade school students alike will find this Bible engaging and helpful.

The one down side with the Big Picture Interactive Bible is that it is not available as in the ESV. But it is still worth a look as both the NJKV and the HCSV can be easily read by kids. Click here to learn more.

 

Apologetics Study Bible For Students

apologetics-bibleIf you have a child who regularly ask questions about Christianity and the Scriptures, this is the Bible for them. This HCSV Bible contains over 120 articles from authors like Ravi Zacharias that tackle topics such as, “Does the Bible Endorse Slavery, Why are There So Many Translations of the Bible, Are UFO’s Real, Does The Bible Demean Women,” and many more. Keeping in line with traditional study Bible, each page of this Bible contains notes that help the reader better understand the context and meaning of the Scriptures above. As your kids keep flipping through this Bible, they will also come across great personal stories, famous quotes, and twisted scripture sections, where the editors of the Bible address various misuses of God’s word. The Bible is designed for older grade school and junior high students.

The one negative is that the Bible is only available in the HCSV. But if you have a questioner or a child seeking to gain ownership of their faith, they will greatly benefit from having this Bible on their shelve! Click here to learn more.

 

ESV Student Bible

esv-student-bibleIf you are looking to get your child his or her first study Bible, consider this ESV Bible. It is packed with tons of Bible study notes that help explain translation issue and the meaning of the text, several maps, a few illustrations and book introductions. The Bible has its pages dotted with the profiles of famous men and women in the Bible and “Did You Know” text boxes that help children understand the historical context of various Scriptures such as when the Solomon compares his love to “a mare among Pharaoh’s chariots.” At the back of the Bible students will find a section dealing with how to study the Bible, another section on important Christian Truths, a glossary, and a concordance. The ESV Student Study Bible is a great starter Bible for grade school and older students. And if you have a child who likes color, they will like the fact that this Bible comes in bright orange, blue, green, purple, and a host of other options.

The one negative with this bible is the notes have been abbreviated from the ESV study Bible, causing one to wonder, “Why not just get my child and ESV study Bible?” But that concern aside, this is still a great Bible that will assist kids in their attempt to fully understand and apply the Scriptures. Click here to learn more.

 

Any Literal Translation

esv-bibleAt the end of the day, the most important thing about the Bible we select for our kids is the text. We need to give them a word for word translation. Translations like the NKJV, ESV, or HCSV and others would qualify because they to translate the ancient text as accurately as possible, avoiding editorial comments. While the notes in the Bibles above can be helpful, they transforming power of the Scriptures is found in God’s Word and not in our commentaries upon it. If you get your kid a simple black and white pew Bible, they will be fine. But if you want to get them a Bible already pre-equipped with some study tools checkout the ones above! Click here to learn more.

 

 

Review of: The Big Picture Interactive 52-Week Bible Story Devotional

Sargeant, Anna. The Big Picture Interactive 52-Week Bible Story Devotional. B&H Publishing Group, Nashville, 2016. pp224. $13.49

I cannot lie. I am a big fan of the Gospel Project and all things related to it. It combats the biblical ignorance of our day by walking families through every book of the Bible. With colorful pictures, great lesson, and fun crafts, the study shows kids how all of scriptures points to the gospel of Jesus Christ. In addition to producing great Sunday school materials, the Gospel Project brand via Lifeway has produced a ton of great resources for the home. They’ve released board book Bibles, children’s Bibles, and a student study Bible that empower parents to reach their kids with the gospel.

And now Lifeway has released its first Gospel Project devotional for kids called, The Big Picture Interactive 52-Week Bible Story Devotional For Kids. Although the title is not too catchy, the content is! If you are looking for a great devotional for grade school kids that will connect them to the story of Jesus, then this is the devotional for you!

How It Works

As the title suggests, the devotion is divided into 52 weeks. Each week stars with a one page devotion filled with application from a Bible story such as creation, the ten commandments, or the parable of the sower. The next page contains a colorful picture that your kids might recognize from Sunday school with a brief summary of the story underneath it.

Turn the page, and you come across a whole host of additional information. There is a “Read It” section, containing verses that show how the principles of the story appear all over the Bible. Underneath the “Read It” section, the “Christ Connection” shows how the story fits into the entire gospel narrative. Also a QR code on the page links you to the Gospel Project Sunday School video that creatively recounts the Bible story you just read.big picture devotoin

On the next page over there are three sections: “Live Big.,” “Big Picture Questions,” and “Dear God.” The “Live Big” section is full of great ideas that will help your kids apply scriptures. The activities include everything from planting seeds, to praying for the lost, to getting your family to do a trust fall (You might want dad for that one). The “Big Picture Questions” help kids apply the lesson to their own lives, by challenging them to think about whether they would obey God or cheat on a test. Would they be willing to love the bully next door? Lastly, each devotion ends with a “Dear God” section. It is a prayer designed to show the kids how they can ask God to equip them for every good work in light of what they have just studied.

How you go through the material is up to you. You could do it in a day, a few days, or stretch it out over the whole week. Regardless of how you do it, this devotion brings the truths of the Bible into your kids’ lives through stories, Bible reading, videos, activities, discussions, and prayers. With so many resources at their disposal, parents should be able to connect their kids to the gospel.

What To Like:

Of all the kid’s devotionals I’ve come across, this is one of the best because it faithfully teaches Jesus in a kid friendly manner. It helps kids to see that salvation comes through Christ alone through faith alone. And then it helps them to understand what it means to be a Christian in real life. Because the devotion covers the full scope of the biblical narrative, it touches on a ton of relevant topics for kids and their families. It talks about death, suffering, how to fight the urge to work our way to heaven, how to overcome the fear of man, and much more. In short, the devotion hits on a ton of the issues of that kids struggles with day in and day out. And as families work through the stories and illustrations, they will learn that God’s word is relevant for their lives and hopefully grow in their faith.

What Not To Like:

Although, the devotion does many things well, it has a few draw backs. First, there are no big picturedirect scripture references. Although the devotions are filled with supporting scriptures, the reader is never told where the Bible stories come from. I feel that having the scripture references printed somewhere in the devotional would help the kids and parents grasp that the stories are historical. Second, a few of the devotions such as the one about Zacharias and the one on Samson, assume that the reader already knows the story (p.76, 122). The “Hear It” section does offer a short explanation of the story. But I could easily see a reader doing these devotions and not gaining a full understanding of that particular biblical text. And lastly, some of the devotions focus on secondary points of application. For example when talking about Samson on page 76, the devotion says we need to trust that God is always working. And while this is true conclusion, I think the main point of Samson’s story is that Samson shows our need for Jesus, the true deliver. And thankfully, the “Christ Connection” says just that. “Jesus would come as the last Deliverer, saving through His life and His death those who would trust in him” (p.78). Sometimes, I wish the “Christ Connection” was the devotion.  But at the end of the day, these are all minor concerns. Anna has done a great job of walking people through the Bible in 52 lessons. This was not an easy task.

Final Thoughts

Like all of the other Gospel Project for Kids materials to date, the 52-week devotional does not disappoint. It is a great resource for families with grade schoolers. The devotions are filled with illustrations that most every kid can relate to. (Using the stories of Corrie Ten Boom and Martin Luther King to explain the gospel is an added plus). Moreover, the “Live Big” and “Big Picture Questions” sections show kids how to insert the gospel into their lives. How great would it be if every kid applied the scriptures by praying for their lost cousins, by doing the dishes, and by getting the bully at school a birthday present? If you are looking for a devotional that will help your young family understand and apply the narratives of the Bible, get this new devotional.

And if your church is like mine and currently uses the Gospel Project Curriculum, this devotional will be an even bigger blessing. It will enable you to work in tandem with your church I will allow your church to reinforce your family worship time.

Are you ready to get copy of the 52 Week Bible Story Devotional?

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