Showing posts with label Bible storybook. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bible storybook. Show all posts

June 28, 2016

5-Minute Nighttime Bible Stories

The 5-Minute Nighttime Bible Stories retold by Charlotte Thoroe and illustrated by Gil Guile makes a good choice for bedtime reading with young children. Published by Tommy Nelson, the appealing artwork catches the attention of little ones, while the large font encourages elementary school child to read along and learn new words. In addition, I appreciate the capitalization of pronouns referring to God.

In the Genesis opening, for example:

“God spoke and whatever He said, it happened.”

The next page invites children to count the animals shown on that page as does the story of Noah. The cheery illustrations and interactive questions help to hold a squirmy child’s attention. Sometimes, though, that same question might cause confusion. For example, posing it with the story of Jesus’ birth could give the impression of an exact animal head count around the manger.

Another type of interaction occurs with a prayer such as the one relating well to the last page of the Noah story:

“Dear God, thank You for all of the wonderful animals and for always keeping Your promises.”

A sidebar with the story of Moses and Pharoah asks what happened to Aaron’s staff, while the next page lists the plagues with a prayer thanking God for taking care of His people.

All Bible storybooks don’t include the Ten Commandments, so I was glad to see this one did in child-friendly language. However, I wish this and other Bible storybooks would omit David’s killing Goliath and talk instead about his tending sheep or writing many of the poems known as Psalms.

In the New Testament stories, the interactive question: “How many disciples did Jesus have?” probably refers to the twelve men He had just chosen as apostles who would be sent out in His name, whereas the disciples or followers of that time and now are countless.

My favorite story in the book will surely be the favorite of young readers, too, as they read “Jesus Loves Children.” At the end of that story, bold letters acclaim, “Jesus always had time for children.” Amen!

Finally, the back matter of this sturdy book, which I kindly received for my honest-as-always review, gives children easy-access to find and memorize:

The Lord’s Prayer (Our Father)
The Ten Commandments (included earlier too)
Psalm 23 (with a word about David and the Psalms)
Books of the Bible (Old Testament and New)
Song About Jesus (“Jesus Loves Me”)

Mary Harwell Sayler, poet, writer, and reviewer, ©2016

5-Minute Nighttime Bible Stories, padded hardback

I review for BookLook Bloggers

June 23, 2016

The Rhyme Bible Storybook

Zonderkidz often sends me review copies of Bibles and Bible storybooks for children, but I saw The Rhyme Bible Storybook by L.J. Sattgast in a Christian bookstore and thought my young grandson would love it. He does!

On each slick page of this sturdily bound book, cheerful artwork by Laurence Cleyet-Merle enhances the lively stories while a large, roundy font encourages young readers to read to themselves, follow along, or take turns reading with a caretaker.

Happily, readers of all ages will enjoy the bouncy rhymes and appreciate the scriptural accuracy of the stories, which include true-to-human-nature examples to fill in the details. For example, “Safe In The Boat,” adapts Genesis 6-9 with these opening lines:

“God was very,
Very sad,
For all the people
Were so bad.
They would chat,
And they would lie.
They would make
Their sisters cry.”

As the story of Noah continues, the author takes into account how people most likely responded.

“So Noah’s family
Built the boat.
They made it strong
So it would float.
But all the people
Laughed and said,
‘They are loony
In the head!
Where’s the water?
Where’s the sea?
They’re as crazy
As can be’!”

Anyone who’s had someone laugh at them and not understand what’s going on will appreciate the emphasis on what Noah and other people of God have had to endure.

With expressions of faith, rebellion, repentance, and answered prayer, these stories also help us to see more clearly how we, too, are part of the ongoing story of God’s love for us, which is best shown in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For example, the last story, “Good News!” presents the account of Jesus’ resurrection as recorded in Luke 24 and Acts 1-2 when, in the upper room:

“Jesus’ friends were hiding.
Their hearts were filled with fear.
But suddenly they saw him –
Jesus had appeared!
Jesus said, ‘Don’t be afraid,
Touch me and you’ll see
That I am not a ghost at all –
Believe that it is me’!”

Thankfully, these well-presented stories of faith do help readers to believe.

Mary Harwell Sayler, © 2016

The Rhyme Bible Storybook, hardback

April 1, 2016

10 features Bible readers want

After reviewing new editions of the Bible for over four years and being an avid Bible reader long before that, I’ve learned that other readers look for the same features I like to see.

If I’ve omitted your favorite, please add it in the Comments section below. Or, if you’re a Bible publisher, please let us know what plans you have along these lines:

First, the physical features:

. Manageable Size .
The first thing most of us notice is whether a Bible is too big, too heavy, or too small to fit our needs. One of the most gorgeous study Bibles I’ve ever received was so massive, I found it too awkward to handle and read except at my desk. Nor could I comfortably carry it to my Bible discussion group, which was a loss to all of us since we missed the benefits of some very impressive footnotes and sidebars.

. Readable Font with Adequate Ink .
On several occasions, I’ve received review copies of “large print” Bibles that weren’t! Unless the font is a minimum of 10-point type with 9-point footnotes, the print will not be large enough for young readers to focus on or for older eyes to see without a blur. I hope type lauded as large print will become standardized at 11 or 12-point type with giant print at 14 points and super giant at 16 to 20. That said, none of the above will ease a reader’s eyes unless the publisher selects a well-inked font.

. Adequate Margins and White Space .
When a font of any size cuts into the surrounding margins, the text seems to scream at the reader’s eyes. That might be a necessary compromise for a study Bible, but people who interact with Holy Scripture usually need a wide-margin edition that provides space for jotting down those insights that come during reading.

. Quality Paper, Sewn into the Binding .
As do many Bible lovers, I like to underline God’s promises and words of encouragement, but some paper textures won’t readily accept a pencil or stop bleed-through from light markers. A creamy, thicker, easy-to-turn paper can be ideal for a reader edition, whereas thin paper might be necessary for a study edition. In either case, the quality of paper makes a big difference in Bibles meant to be kept and used often, which also means those pages must be sewn – not glued – into the cover.

I’m personally displeased with the cheap grade paper often used in children’s editions. I suppose the thinking is that they’ll soon outgrown a kid version and want a “grownup” edition, which might be true for some. However, a lifelong love for the Bible began for many of us in childhood, and I’m happy to say I still have the first Bible ever given to me. Keeping it was my choice, but if the publisher had used the cheap grade of paper I often seen now, I doubt my zipper-enclosed children’s edition would have lasted for decades!

. Durable Cover .
Regarding that zipper, which I don’t want in a Bible now, it still works amazingly well! Again, that’s because the publisher used quality materials and workmanship, which I’m finding more difficult to locate. However, contemporary translations in paperbacks with glued-in pages give us a chance to see if we want something more durable. If so, high quality leather covers that lay flat are a long-time preference for favorite editions, while top-quality man-made covers that lay flat can last well and also be pleasant to the touch. For encyclopedic editions, though, my gorgeous goatskin-covered study Bible can not stand up on my desk! Then, a sturdy hardcover binding with sewn-in pages makes the most sense.

. Two (preferably three!) Ribbon Markers .
Yes, we can always add bookmarks, but two or more ribbon markers encourage us to read from both testaments and actually check out those cross-references. For instance, I might want to read the Gospels straight through, as I would other books, but turn to Psalms for a morning meditation. Then, if I want to investigate the verses referred to in a passage, I need another ribbon to hold my place while I look up the next scripture. Therefore, three ribbon markers work great in study editions. Regardless of the number, though, each ribbon needs a hem-finished tip to prevent unraveling.

More importantly, students of the Bible, avid readers, and study groups need:

. Cross-References .
Make that readable cross-references! Most are not! Even in large-print Bibles, the references typically have a thin, tiny font that requires a magnifying glass. Since these often get placed between columns or in the outside margin of paragraphed text, this cuts into usable space for note-taking. One workable solution is to place a reference at the end of the Bible verse to which it connects, making it immediately accessible and also very readable as such cross-references sensibly use the same sized font.

. Book Intros .
For a reader edition, a brief introduction about the author, time, place, and purpose helps to get us grounded. For study editions, outlines and themes work well, but for either, a one-sentence thesis statement can help us to find which book is most likely to have what we’re looking for.

. User-friendly Layout .
Timelines, photographs, maps, and/or sidebars in an eye-appealing format make readers just want to keep reading, which should be a primary aim for any new edition. Those visual aids also help us to see the relevancy of scripture today. If space prevents those features, however, just having chapter subheadings will visually break up the text and help us to find the passages we’re looking for with greater ease.

All of the above features encourage Bible reading, but most importantly, we need:

. Unbiased Footnotes and Articles .
At first glance, this preference seems to have exceptions. For instance, when I received a review copy of The Lutheran Study Bible, I expected – and, indeed, wanted – footnotes to interpret the Bible from the perspective of that denomination. Ditto for the Didache Bible, whose footnotes include quotations from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC.) Such editions provide an important service to members of a particular denomination by helping them to see where their church is coming from and why. In addition, this info can foster ecumenical understanding in Christians from other backgrounds.

Study notes that present various interpretations can be very helpful, too, when they’re fair-minded, avoid telling readers how to think, and do not speak against any denomination ever! The more Christians from diverse backgrounds read, study, and love the Bible, the more we come to respect one other and acknowledge the family we have as the beloved children of our one Creator God.

© 2016, Mary Harwell Sayler

October 7, 2015

Just Like Jesus Bible Storybook

When Tyndale House Publishers kindly sent me a review copy of Just Like Jesus, my first impression was, “Nice!” With its lightly padded cover and thick, slick pages, this book should stand up to long use and sticky fingerprints that can probably be wiped off with a barely dampened sponge. That sturdy construction is impressive as is the beautifully done artwork, which will undoubtedly appeal to young children and also adults of all ages!

Unfortunately, beginning readers will most likely deem those same illustrations as “babyish,” which matters only because elementary school children will identify with the vocabulary and content far more than will children 4 to 7, who are seldom mature enough to understand abstract, character-building concepts.

Exemplary character, as perfectly shown by Jesus, is the overall purpose of this sturdy little storybook. If, therefore, a child received it at an early age and grew up reading it, concerns about age and abstracts would no longer be a factor.

In the book's clear aim to build character, each section begins with a theme and relevant Bible verse before guiding children and their parents, grandparents, or other caretakers to discussion various aspects of Jesus’ character, which we’re all to emulate.

If we want to be just like Jesus, that means we’re to be thankful, responsible, kind, caring, and spirit-filled.

In focusing on the latter, for example, the title “Jesus Was Spirit-Filled” precedes scripture from Matthew 3:16, which says, “After his baptism… [Jesus] saw the Spirt of God descending like a dove and settling on him.”

The adjacent page, “Jesus in The Bible,” goes on to develop that verse more fully by saying:

“Jesus was perfect. So why did He come to be baptized? He had no sin to wash away! When Jesus came up out of the water, God’s Holy Spirit filled His heart.

“It was time to start His mission! Jesus came to teach us about God and to forgive our sins. The Holy Spirit gave Jesus the power to do it!”

Although the question posed was not answered in the text, parents might discuss it with their children, depending on their ages or ability to understand.

Then, the next page “Jesus In Me,” explains:

“When we ask Jesus to forgive our sins, we give God control of our lives. Then He fills us with His Holy Spirit. When we are full of God’s Holy Sirit, His love controls our actions.

“Now we can be just like Jesus!”

The last page on each theme and section ends with a prayer such as:

“Lord, I want to be Spirit-Filled! I pray for more and more of Your Holy Spirit each day.”

And finally,under the ribboned healing “To be just like Jesus….” we read, “I will be Spirit-Filled.”

The consistent format covers each theme in four-page sections, which young readers can be encouraged to read by themselves with a little help from adult caretakers, who take time and care to help children develop character with the sterling examples only Jesus can provide.

© 2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer and lifelong student of the Bible, is also a Christian poet and writer who writes on biblical themes.

Just Like Jesus Bible Storybook (Wonder Kids), padded hardback

June 26, 2015

Sing-Along Bible stories

Parents, grandparents, teachers, and other caretakers of toddlers and preschoolers will have fun remembering these 50 Bible stories with accompanying songs to learn along with the kids! Stephen Elkins not only selected the stories and translated them into child-friendly language, he provided the lively artwork for this sturdy picture book, which includes a CD.

The slightly padded front cover, which can be easily wiped clean of sticky fingerprints, is nicely sized for young children and early readers. For the latter, a “Let’s Read” upper section has 6 or 7 lines in a clear font with easy-to-read song lyrics in the “Let’s Sing” section at the bottom of the page. In between, you’ll find the title of the story with a relevant “Little Lesson” on the facing page, which, again, many young readers will be able to read for themselves. If they know how to put a CD on pause, so much the better!

Younger children will need an adult’s assistance, playing the CD, keeping track of the stories, and guiding each reading. You might also want to skip the “David and Goliath” story, which almost every Bible storybook includes even though toddlers and preschoolers don’t need the thought of whacking bullies in the head with a rock! The “Little Lesson” on the facing page says, “There is power in the name of the Lord!” but the take-away could be in discovering the power of hurling objects across a room. (Yes, I’m apt to worry, but then one of our little ones loved to throw things, and the power of a flying Matchbox car wiped out a TV set!)

Other than that concern, the stories in this picture book, published for Tyndale Kids, fit preschoolers well. They’ll love the idea of “Balaam’s Donkey” talking with the “Little Lesson” take-away of “God can do all things!” And, as a parent, grandparent, and Bible teacher, I love the idea of teaching the very youngest child to “Pray about Everything” and planting the thought, “I can pray for my puppy!”

Accompanying another important story, “Jesus Promises to Love Me,” the “Let’s Sing” section gives the lyrics to “Jesus Loves Me” – the life-changing song I first heard as a toddler and immediately believed. Still do.

The book continues to builds on that early teaching moment and other stories, for example, by saying:

“Do you want to be a good friend?
Jesus taught us how!
He said, ‘Love other people the way I have loved you’.”

Then the “Little Lesson” brings that home by adding: “Loving others makes us a friend of Jesus!”

Yes, and amen.

Thank you, Tyndale House Publishing for this lovely, lively book and the complimentary review copy you kindly sent.

©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, poet, writer, and reviewer, is a lifelong lover of Christ, the Bible, and the church in all its parts.

My Sing-Along Bible, padded hardback picture book

January 22, 2014

ESV Children’s Bible

What an excellent transition the ESV Children’s Bible from Crossway provides for young people between the ages for reading Bible storybooks and study editions for adults! For example, “The Bible, God’s Message to Us” introduces children to this “ancient book full of God’s mystery and truth. Full of wonder and power,” then goes on to explain why the Bible was written and some ways to respond.

Additional front matter also helps children get grounded before going on to the highly accurate but readable ESV (English Standard Version) text, while the back pages include such helpful information as “Who is God? What is God Like?”

The back matter also shows ways “God Makes Himself Known” and lists the Ten Commandments with explanations for each. Going “From Old To New Testament,” the study aids discuss “Jesus: God’s Righteous Son” and the meanings of the Gospel, salvation, and sanctification. In addition, a dictionary defines words often used in Sunday School, church services, and Bible classes with clear definitions for the A to Z terminology ranging from “abide” to “zeal.”

A defining moment for this edition, however, occurs in the lively Bible storybook illustrations interspersed throughout the text. That format makes the ESV Children’s Bible a good choice for children just learning to read and also those who absorb information better through pictures than words. For children who have begun to look up Bible books, chapters, and verses themselves, the layout eases the search with a red banner across the top of each page to highlight the actual Bible text.

©2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, Bible Reviewer

ESV Children’s Bible, hardback

November 4, 2013

The big picture in a Bible storybook

Most Bible storybooks for children include similar stories of people who exhibited great faith and courage – or a lamentable lack of either! Unlike the titles published years ago, however, today’s storybooks often show God’s people as admirable but flawed human beings, who sometimes reflect and sometimes conflict with the ongoing love, goodness, justice, mercy, and forgiveness of our unchanging God.

To emphasize this contrast even more, “A Letter to Parents” in The Big Picture Interactive Bible Storybook from B&H Publishing clearly states: “’Be good’ is not the message of the Bible. ‘Be saved’ is.” While human heroes come and go, God The Hero remains.

As any child knows, of course, a Hero rescues, protects, and takes care of what needs tending – just as God did from the moment sin ruined the perfection created in the beginning. So, from the beginning, God planned a timely redemption through the sacrificial life, death, and resurrection power of Jesus Christ.

To show this so children can follow the time sequence and see how God’s plan fits together from Genesis to Revelation, each page of these Bible stories includes the unique feature of the “Christ Connection.” For example, the story, “God Created the World and People,” makes this connection: “Colossians 1:15-22 reveals that Christ is ruler over all of God’s creation. All of creation was created through Him, by Him, and for Him. Everything was created to give glory to Christ, but people would choose not to give Him glory. The rest of the Bible reveals how Jesus would restore the relationship between God and man.”

That “Christ Connection” ends with a “Big Picture Question” for discussion and a “Big Picture Answer” too. In the story, “Obadiah the Prophet,” for example, the question, “What is pride?” receives the “Big Picture Answer: Pride is thinking you are better than others, and it steals glory from God.” Or, the story, “Jesus Christ Will Return,” asks the “Big Picture Question: Why will there be no need for a lamp in heaven?” then answers, “God’s glory will be its light and there will be no more night.”

This type of involvement helps the book live up to its name, but in addition, The Big Picture Interactive Bible Storybook offers an app to be downloaded for free. Then readers can scan the icon on each page and watch the illustration come to life online. With over 140 colorful, kid-appealing illustrations to choose from, children can interact with Bible story people as they interact with God, presenting us with our timeless stories too.

©2013, Mary Harwell Sayler

The Big Picture Interactive Bible Storybook from B&H Publishing