We wrote a newsletter naming our top 20 Bible Story books back in 2012. While a couple of those are now out of print, it provides an easy-to-see overview of these favorites!
Children love stories. Stories are one of the primary ways they learn about the world and themselves. While most children absorb facts easily, stories provide an immediacy that simple information lacks. A child doesn't remember a story so much as know it; it becomes part of their life experience and informs the way they interact with God and other people.
The Bible is a series of stories forming a single narrative about God, mankind and their relationship. These stories each illustrate aspects of God's character. While children need to be taught the terms and "facts" of Christian doctrine, Bible stories provide a vital reinforcement and illustration of abstract concepts.
God chose to reveal Himself primarily through stories about His people. Stories, then, should be the primary way we teach our children about Him. By familiarizing themselves with the history of God's people, our children will begin to better understand their own role in the continuing story of God's redemption of mankind.
We don't carry a lot of books with individual stories, focusing instead on larger collections. While none of these books include all the stories, they offer a sense of the Bible's overall flow that many similar books lack. Once kids get older it's important to move on to the Bible itself, but in their younger years they often need something a bit more comprehensible. To help you find the most age-appropriate Bible storybooks, we've divided what we offer into three groups: books for ages 2-4, 4-7, and 7-10.
The Beginner's Bible is best used as a read-aloud and features cartoony illustrations and a smattering of famous Bible stories. More complete and focusing on the flow of Biblical history, The Big Picture Story Bible also includes thoughtful questions to aid retention. The New Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes pairs 184 paragraph-length Bible stories with one-page full-color illustrations, with the text acting as commentary on and explanation of the pictures. Our favorite for this age group, The Jesus Story Book Bible is humorous, Reformed, and demonstrates the presence of Christ throughout the entirety of Scripture.
101 Favorite Stories from the Bible includes many often-neglected tales and doesn't shy away from the violent ones (though stories of an explicitly sexual nature are excluded or glossed). Focusing on events and people rather than theology, The Family-Time Bible in Pictures is beautifully illustrated and includes discussion questions. For a simple overview of the Bible's narrative arc, The Children's Bible in 365 Stories is a solid choice. The EagerReader Bible introduces beginning readers to foundational Bible stories.
365 Great Bible Stories focuses on the presence of Christ throughout the biblical narrative. Starr Meade's The Mighty Acts of God imparts biblical and theological truth through well-written stories with Scripture references. The New Children's Bible highlights key individuals in the history of redemption, imparting a Covenantal understanding of God's work. (The Mighty Acts of God and The New Children's Bible are also good choices for slightly older kids.) Particularly useful for 4-7 year olds, but beneficial for the entire family, The Gospel Story Bible illustrates Jesus' story throughout both Testaments, along with thought-provoking discussion starters.
The Egermeier's Bible Story Book is a classic of its kind, simply presenting well-known Bible stories with wholesome illustrations and a moralistic tone. Also a classic, but much better at imparting theological truths, The Child's Story Bible even works as a doctrinal introduction for adult new believers. The Children's Illustrated Bible supplements the famous Bible stories with information about the people and times, maps, etc.
The Golden Children's Bible takes kids through the major stories in chronological order, employing a modified "King James" prose that is neither dumbed-down nor too difficult. For a slightly broader age range (8-12), both The Picture Bible and The Action Bible offer the crucial stories of the Bible in comic book format. If you want your kids introduced to the major stories and themes of the Bible in the Bible's own words, the ESV Illustrated Family Bible pairs beautiful illustrations with extended excerpts from the English Standard Version of God's Word.
Of course it's up to you which books you offer your kids and at what age—these are mostly suggestions. Some kids are ready for more challenge at an earlier age, some parents may want to focus more on doctrine than simply the stories themselves, and there are families who prefer to concentrate on the basic elements of Scripture during family devotions. We offer Bible story books that appeal to each of these situations or inclinations, but all of them are written by Christians dedicated to the Gospel and the training of children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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