Not long ago, we posted a feature about our favorite "first" children's Bibles. But even if your children have Bibles of their own, I encourage you to have Ruth Graham's Step Into the Bible on hand, too.
Designed specifically for family devotionals, but equally as good as a one-parent-with-one-child book, this beautiful volume was penned by Billy Graham's daughter. In the introduction, Ruth Graham explains how her parents used a 19th century book titled Steps for Little Feet Along Gospel Paths (by Charles Foster) for family devotions while she was growing up. But when Ruth was ready to use it with her own children, she felt it really needed updating. She suggested her mother as the perfect person to do this, but Ruth Bell Graham thought her daughter ought to do it. So the younger Ruth took up the task, and her revised version, called First Steps in the Bible was published in 1980. The edition I have before me today is updated even further, removing what the author herself called "weak stories."
Each two page spread in Step Into the Bible features glorious color photographs related to the devotional at hand. There are lots of animals and people to interest young children, and real-life biblical scenes (like Mt. Ararat and the Jordon River) to interest older kids. On one side of the page is a short devotional - most no longer than a few paragraphs. On the opposite side of the page are kid-friendly questions to ask your child about the reading, and a memory verse.
The devotionals themselves do use some contemporary anecdotes, but they are largely simple, straight-forward retellings of Bible stories and incidents. The author does not dumb things down for the children; for example, she includes a story about leprosy. But as she says in the periodic notes she includes just for parents, such things need not confuse or frighten children if told in the right light.
What I Like: The author's writing is wonderfully down to earth; the questions for children are simple and yet sometimes profound; and the brilliant photographs are like gourmet icing on a delicious cake. During family devotions, this book will speak to parents, too.
What I Dislike: The same memory verse is used for every five devotions. I would rather see a new memory verse for every seven devotions (so there'd be one verse per week)...but this is a very personal critique, and not all parents will feel the same way.
Overall Rating: Excellent.
Age Appeal: There is no publisher recommendation, but I'd say 2 - 12.
Publishing Info: Zonderkidz, 2007; ISBN: 0310714109; soft back, $14.99