I remember sitting on the couch with my husband, his hands on my pregnant belly. We were listening to Christian music and discussing how we would pass our faith on to our children. Since that time, we’ve been on the look-out for good devotional materials for children. We’ve made it a tradition to expand our kids’ Bible library each Easter, finding something that fits their age and needs. Consider good Christian devotional materials as a gift to bless family members or friends at baby showers or birthdays.
Here’s some we’ve enjoyed:
Bible Story Books
Age 2 and Under
What Did Jesus Say and Do? by Helen Haidle, Illustrated by Nancy Munger
This board book has simple, rhyming text and a Bible verse with each spread. I often find the earliest Bible story books use so many baby animals and flowers that they make Jesus look “cute” (not the message I want to portray.) These drawings did not give that sense, but were still pleasant and colorful. The book starts with Christmas, touches on Christ’s boyhood, then moves through His baptism, ministry, Passion Week, and Easter. Now that I have more than one child, board books can entertain the little one while I’m reading to the older one.
Age 3 and 4
My First Read-Aloud Bible, by Mary Batchelor and Penny Boshoff
This Bible story book includes more stories than most books for this age—about sixty each for Old and New Testaments. Each spread contains a very short and simple text about the story and includes the Bible reference at the bottom. The information given usually comes straight from Scripture without added imaginary details or interpretive comments. The drawings are colorful, a bit like cartoons but not silly or irreverent. I appreciated the inclusion of some of Jesus’ parables, not just His miracles. There are long sections for Christmas and Easter as well. (Material on the Psalms, prophets, epistles and Revelation is sparse.)
Ages 4 and 5
The Story Bible: 130 Stories of God’s Love, Engelbrecht and Pawlitz, editors
The vibrant, detailed full-page paintings attracted me to this edition. The pictures are a notable exception to many books whose pictures have an out-of-date feel to them. The layout is inviting as well, with a partial or full-page picture on each spread and ample room for the text.
The text of the stories is taken almost verbatim from Scripture, though shortened. While this sounds admirable, it doesn’t work well: helpful explanations are lacking and many inconsequential details are retained. I wish the publishers had adjusted the text for a smoother, but still accurate, retelling of Scripture. Sidebars include questions and prayers which are phrased assuming the child is saved (you may want to adapt or skip them based on your child’s spiritual interest.)
Psalms for Young Children, by Marie Helene Delval, illustrated by Arno
The author paraphrases part of forty Psalms in simple language. Each selection is accompanied by a full-color drawing of children—playing music, sitting by a brook, standing on a mountain. A friend reports that this book helped her young daughter work through emotions during a difficult long-distance move. I like this book because it introduces young kids to the Psalms and gives ideas for worship and prayer. Kindergarteners or first-graders could use this book as a early-reader as well.
The Big Picture Bible Storybook, by David Helm, Illustrated by Gayle Schoonmaker
What makes this Bible storybook different than most is how it traces overarching themes in Scripture in a simple way that kids can understand. In the Old Testament portion, we learn about God’s plan for mankind and man’s repeated sins and idolatry. The New Testament portion describes how Christ is able to restore us as individuals, the growth of the church and His plan for us in heaven. The author seeks to interpret the Biblical narrative; at times, we disagreed with his terminology (for example, whether or not Acts describes the growth of God’s Kingdom.) Also, some of the drawings were too whimsical for my taste.
Lullabies: Songs for Quiet Moments, from Discovery House Music
This twelve-track CD is unique because many of its songs focus on Scripture passages (for examples, “You Knew Me” echoes Psalm 139, “Love God” reiterates Deuteronomy 6 and Matthew 22, and A Parent’s Prayer echoes Micah 6:8.) Several songs are reworked from past children’s hymns and a few of the songs are simply nice lullabies without a strong spiritual message. We’ve enjoyed this CD as an introduction into nighttime for our kids for many years.
We’ve recently begun using the Foundations verses with our young kids. It’s a list of 75 basic Bible verses published by Bethlehem Baptist Church. It includes simple pictures as memory prompts for the children and verses are in the ESV. These are accessible in several formats; I use the Foundation verses section included in the smart phone app for their adult Scripture meditation program, Fighter Verses.
Other Bible memory program for young children include: ABC Memory Book from Scripture Memory Fellowship (KJV or NKJV) and the ABC memory verses printable from Icanteachmychild.com (NIV, NLT, etc.)
Several reproducible coloring books are available that include pictures from all parts of the Bible narrative. Here are two I have used:
Thru the Bible Coloring Pages for Ages 2-4, from Standard Publishing
Simple coloring pages that coordinate with the 2s and 3s curriculum from the same publisher. This book has a Bible picture on one side and a modern-day application picture on the other. Over 200 pictures.
Bible Story Coloring Pages, (set of books) from Gospel Light
Over 100 stories included, a picture on one side with simple text retelling the story on the other. Reproducible by the original purchaser.
These reviews are my honest opinion. I did not receive any compensation from the authors or publishers, but write about the materials as a service to other parents looking for Bible resources for their kids.
[image courtesy of Syda_Productions/deposit photos]