Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Beginning Reader's Bible

As the mom of a beginning reader, I know well the desire to find a Bible my child can read all by herself. That's why I was excited to discover The Beginning Reader's Bible. This volume contains excerpts from the International Children's Bible, which the publishers say has been "tested and has proven to be easy for children to read." But unlike standard International Children's Bibles, the entire text of the Bible is not included and large, gorgeous illustrations by Marijke ten Cate are heavily featured.

In this book, children can read about:

Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden
Noah and the flood
The Tower of Babel
God's promise to Abraham
Joseph and his brothers
Moses and the Pharaoh

Hannah and her baby
David and Goliath
Daniel and the lions
Jesus' birth
Jesus as a boy in the temple
Jesus teaching the people
Several of Jesus' miracles
The parable of the wayward son
Jesus on the cross
Jesus' resurrection
Jesus' assent into Heaven
The coming of the Holy Spirit
Saul's conversion
"A peek into Heaven" (from Revelation)

In addition, there are special pages for the 10 Commandments, Psalm 23, a few verses from Proverbs, Mary's song, the Lord's Prayer, a Bible reading chart with places to check off once each story is read, a list of the 12 apostles and the 12 tribes of Israel, the lyrics to "Jesus Loves Me" and "Jesus Loves the Little Children, plus a list of all the books of the Bible, a memory verse chart, and a sample prayer of salvation. Throughout the book, small sidebars with memory verses and activity ideas are found.

What I Like:
First and foremost, this is a really lovely looking book. The illustrations are full of deep, Mediterranean-style colors and people who actually look like they could be from the Holy Land. Artist Marijke ten Cate did a phenomenal job. My 5-year-old also enjoyed having me read this book to her; she - a beginning reader - cannot read them herself.
What I Dislike: This is not truly a book for "beginning readers." The type is small - normal-sized for an adult book - and the vocabulary is pretty tough for a true beginner. If your child reads quite well, but still wants lots of pictures in his or her book, this would be a good choice. Otherwise, consider this a read-to-me Bible storybook.

In addition, I was also surprised by certain passages in this book. For example, in the Old Testament story of Joseph, we read: "After some time the wife of Joseph's master began to desire Joseph." Later, in the New Testament, Mary is described as a "virgin." I'm don't think most kids in the beginning reader phase are ready to learn about adultery and virginity.

Some stories are also abruptly cut short. For example, at one point, Noami tells Ruth that Boaz is a relative and "will take care of us." The next sentence is "So Boas took Ruth and married her." This is probably a way to avoid difficult passages, but it shows the weakness of using a Bible translation for what is more like a storybook Bible than a true Bible.

Overall Rating: Despite these drawbacks, however, I think this is a lovely storybook Bible for grade schoolers - even if it turns out to be a read-to-me book. I give it a rating of Very Good.
Age Appeal: According to the publisher 4 to 8 - but the reading level is most appropriate for age 8 and above.
Publishing Info: Thomas Nelson, 2011; ISBN: 978-1400317028; hardback, 192 pgs., $19.99.

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1 comment:

Tanya said...

Great review. Very thorough. Thanks!