….. if the illustrations limit the story; if the text, in an attempt to simplify, is inaccurate; if children don’t connect the story with the Bible; if too much interpretation is involved; if you stop with Bible story books and children never begin to use a “real” Bible.
If you understand this, then here are some suggestions about when and how you choose Bible story books for children. The best age for Bible story books is from original awareness of books (The Word and Picture series by Carol Wehrheim) through about 2nd grade (Tomie de Paola’s The Parables of Jesus). Beyond this age children,who are absorbing information like sponges, are ready for dictionaries, atlases, background information.
At this age some judicious editing of Biblical content is required. Stories of the patriarchs and matriarchs, Moses and the Exodus, Samuel and David, Jesus and the early church offer an introduction to names and events that children will be able to eventually see as one family story. Verses from Psalms are a very valuable introduction to praise and prayer.
It’s important that adult and child are to enjoy these books together. Don’t buy a book that you won’t enjoy sharing. Art styles are very important and should be varied. Discussing the pictures may be a valuable experience of learning. And children should connect the book with the Bible itself.
By 2nd grade the child should have his or her own Bible or, perhaps, several Bibles. The one read in worship should be available in the home. The Bible this child will be growing into should have cross references and maps. Properly chosen and enjoyed, Bible story books are preparation for a life time of hearing God’s Word.
Thanks to guest blogger Virginia Thomas, author of Children in the Worshipping Community and Children’s Literature for all God’s Children, who allowed us to repost a blog entry from the William Smith Morton Library blog. This entry serves as an introduction to a review of several Bible story books that will be posted tomorrow.