Friday, October 1, 2010

The Hear-Me-Read Bible

In recent years, Christian publishers have really begun filling a gap by offering a small line of books for early readers. However, it's still difficult to find a decent early reader Bible. That's where The Hear-Me-Read Bible by Dr. Mary Manz Simon comes in.

Containing 18 Bible stories (reprints of separately published, slim early reader books), the text is in large type and features short sentences. Each story is told in 25 words or less. The illustrations are large and engaging. At the beginning of each story, a word list is offered, as is educational advice to parents from the author.

The Bible stories included are: Creation, Noah's Ark, the Tower of Babel, baby Moses, Jericho, David and Goliath, Jonah and the big fish, the birth of John the Baptist, the first Christmas, Jesus feeding the crowd, the Good Samaritan, Mary and Martha, Jesus blessing the children, Zacchaeus, Jesus entering Jerusalem, the first Easter, and Jesus filling the nets. Here's an example of the text, from the story of Noah:
"Look at Noah. Noah was God's helper. God said to Noah, 'Make a boat. Make a big boat. I will send a big rain,' said God. Hurry, Noah! Hurry! Drip, drop. Hurry, Noah! Hurry! Make a big boat. Drip, drop. Drip, drop. Drip, drop, splash! Noah was God's helper."
What I Like: My 5 year old was really excited to have a Bible she can read herself. This is an attractive book, with plenty of interesting, cartoonish illustrations. The text is ideal for beginning readers. Most kids will find some words challenging, but plenty of easier words are included, too.

What I Dislike:
I really only have two small complaints about this book. One pops up during the story of David and Goliath. Instead of saying King Saul offered David his armor, the author writes that a "soldier"offered his armor. My only other complaint is the way the book ends. Although we never learn why Jesus died and was put on the cross, we do learn about his resurrection. Then, the last story in the book is about Jesus telling the disciples where to fill their nets. This seems like such a weird way to end the book. Did Jesus come alive again just to tell his friends where to fish?

That said, this book clearly isn't meant to replace a child's "read-to-me" Bible. Although this book covers a lot of famous Bible stories, the text is necessarily limited. Think of this as a supplemental Bible designed to give your kids their first experiences in reading the Word every day.

Overall Rating: Very Good.

Age Appeal: 4 - 8.

Publishing Info: Concordia, 2010; ISBN: 978-0758618894; hardback, 352 pgs., $14.99

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Special Info: Read our reviews of other books by this author, including some of the "Hear-Me-Read" thin chapter books reprinted in this Bible.

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