When initially asked to review a new Catholic Children’s Bible I was anticipating a small, padded book, with a handful of sweetly illustrated and reworded popular stories from the Bible. What I was handed was a BIBLE. A 2,000 page, you-could-do-weight-lifting-exercises-with-it-Bible! Upon doing research I found that this Bible in particular is the only children’s Bible with the entire 27 book contents. My interest was peeked. What else is special about this Bible?
Easy to Read Text: Using the Good News Translation, Catholic Edition, the text is very “kid-friendly” and straight forward. The formatting is large and open with special considerations such as column dividers, bolded chapter and verse numbers, and very little hyphenation.
Color Coding: Each book of the Bible is coded a specific color according to the literary genre to which it fits. One of the first pages in the Children’s Bible has a helpful illustration of a bookshelf divided into Old and New Testament sections. Each of these sections has the literary sub sections containing the 27 books categorized respectively where they belong. For example, all the books of the Pentateuch are light blue, the historical books such as Judges and Kings are brown, and so on. Within the pages of the Bible itself, the color coding is marked brightly on the bottom of each page, and on the side. This is an excellent visual aid for children and may I add adults as well.
Featured Stories: Unfortunately not many children are prone to pick up a Bible, color coded though it may be, and decide to read it. The Catholic Children’s Bible entices our young ones with “Featured Stories”. 125 Bible stories have been carefully selected and brought even more to our children’s understanding by using illustrations, vocabulary words, and a special section called, “Understand It, Live It, and Tell It”. Using this as a guide, a child, parent and/or teacher would read the actual Biblical passage, then delve into understanding it more with the help of practical life stories, and then living it with practical life applications. The final section of “Tell It” gives the reader three pictures to spark their memory of the story, and then asks them to retell it in their own words using the pictures as a guide. These featured stories are excellent for understanding and owning our Lord’s words.
Catholic Prayers: Includes basic prayers such as The Rosary, Act of Faith, Hope and Love, Act of Contrition and many more.
Catholic Practices: Lists the Holy Days of Obligation, Precepts of the Church, Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, the Ten Commandments, and The Beautitudes.
Biblical Maps: Excellent maps! They even label where major Biblical events took place, such as where Jesus walked on the water, and where David slew Goliath.
Basic Bible Timeline: This two page time line clearly lays out the Biblical events from Creation to present time.
How to Find a Bible Passage: Easily understood directions on how to accurately navigate and find specific passages.
Extras: Appendix, pronunciation guide, introductions before each book, and Bible passages for special times.
So after reviewing it, what do I think?
The mom in me says, “Yes”, with a slight hesitation. I like that it is an excellent read aloud for the little ones. I like that for my beginning readers they can focus on only the featured stories. I like for when my children are independent readers they may pick this up with more ease than the tiny printed adult Bible on the shelf. The “Tell It, Live It, Love It” part is an excellent tool for a preoccupied mom to use as a springboard for delving deeper into the scriptures that helps our children and us have those awesome “a-ha” moments! And did I mention that is has a cool IPad app you can purchase separately? The app brings the featured stories to life with animation and actual audio of the text. Even more fun for our young nonreaders! There are so many positive qualities about this Bible. As a mother, my only hesitation concerns the physical structure of the Bible. Because it is so large, it is not easily transported. When used as a family Bible that the children have access to, it may not take the wear and tear of use too well. I would personally suggest getting the hardcover version, and even doing some extra measure of protection such as making an additional cover for it.
The teacher in me says, “Yes” with no hesitation! This is an excellent Bible for classroom use, whether it is in a CCD or Catholic school setting. St. Mary’s Press also offers additional teaching aids to supplement the Bible. My first thought is to pair this Bible with Jeff Cavin’s, The Great Adventure Bible Study for Kids. Now that would be rock solid!
St. Mary’s Press has geared this Bible towards grades second, third and fourth. I would additionally add grades five and six. My personal opinion for home use is to have it in addition to a good children’s Bible such as my favorite by Fr. Lovasik. It is an excellent bridge in between the simple, “baby” Bibles, and a regular adult Bible. It truly is one of a kind and deserves a place on the shelf of every Catholic home and classroom!