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Any reviewer of a film or book knows how hard it is to summarise a story into a few simple words. It is much harder than it looks. Do I include this? Can I leave this detail out? The skill involved in distilling down a plot is a high and difficult art.
The Beginner's Bible is aimed at children aged 8 and under and is published by Zonderkidz (an imprint of Zondervan) and includes 95 Bible Stories retold by Karyn Henley. This edition (from 1989) is illustrated by Dennas Davis although it is now looking dated and a newer edition with brighter, computer developed illustrations has been released. The newer edition also includes some differences in stories.
Each story is approximately 4 pages long with, on average, 5 lines per page and illustrations on every page. These vary with the story being told.
The major stories are covered: creation, fall, Noah, Abraham and descendants, Joshua and Jericho and the stories of the Kings. Good attention is paid to the stories of Elijah and Elisha. Most of the events of Jesus life is covered, as are the lives of the apostles and it finishes with John's revelation of heaven (note: its revelation, singular, not revelations, plural). Naturally, there are few written prophets or New Testament epistles (I have only found these in the Candle Bible through the year).
Firstly, inclusion. It is too easy to criticise what has been left out of this Bible. 95 stories is not enough to do either the New Testament or the Old Testament justice. But it does make it a workable size for a bedtime bible. One notable omission is Lazarus (included in the later edition).
Secondly, in my opinion it is the most reliable story bible on the market. There are other good ones from Marks and Spencer's and Christian Focus but this is excellent at simply and faithfully capturing the story. It rarely attempts to interpret except when necessary to make sense of the story and of course when it does that may divide people as to whether they have interpreted it correctly. Occasionally it chooses to leave out details which are necessary for understanding the story. Jonah is the most obvious example of this, but I have only found one Children's Bible which includes Jonah 4.
Thirdly, there are some problems with the illustrations. Most of the men have beards, which is fine, but it makes all the characters from Noah to Paul look the same.
In general, although its not perfect it is an excellent Bible for young children. My children love this one and I am sure will continue to.
It's harder to get hold of this version now, but the new version is between £9-12.
The suggested age range shown above for this book is obviously a misprint. This is listed at a reading level of 9-12. the book is really designed for much younger children I would say ages 2-8 for listening to the stories and ages 6-8 for independent reading.
I bought this book because it is highly recommended by many home educators. It is meant to be the easiest bible for young children to read on their own, and where possible uses common words that children would learn in school. Of course, being a bible, it does have some difficult names, like Zacchaeus. The text is large, bold and short.
The stories are very short, so perfect to read out loud to the youngest of children. I have heard many people read one story a night, which would only take about 2-3 minutes. We always read a few related ones at a time. The pictures are cartoon style, and very good for cartoons. I would not say they are works of art, but they are certainly more likely to appeal to young children than those of many bibles.
I read this bible to my son last year as religious education. I found it an easy bible to use, and the short stories were perfect to stop and discuss things. He is not able to read it on his own yet, but I am certain when his reading progresses a bit this will prove far easier to read than most children's bibles.
I only have one complaint with this bible. I do not think the bible should be altered for the authors interpretations. This bible states that Judas was the money keeper for the disciples and stealing from the money they raised. There is absolutely nothing in the bible to support that theory. In fact there is nothing in the bible about Jesus collecting money at all. Judas Iscariot translates to Judas the zealot. Judas is thought to be a political revolutionary, perhaps seeking a more earthly messiah, but nothing in the bible states that he is thief. being the natural cynic that I am, I can not help but wonder if stories about Jesus collecting money for his ministries are meant to support modern day practices of passing the collection plate and strong arming those who do not give generously. I also think it is wrong to over simplify things by just making Judas evil. I think it was more complex than that. I also find it awkward to explain to a child that this part of the bible is a lie, so I have taken two whole stars from the book for this. That said, i am sure many other people will not be troubled by the issue and will very much enjoy the book.
The book shown is the edition I own. a newer ( and hopefully more accurate) version has been released and is much more affordable. There is also a website with free worksheets related to this and other activities at www. the beginners bible . com without the spaces.