by Liz Alexander, Minister to Preschool & Children
So you're standing there, staring at the children’s Bible section, and it’s a bit overwhelming. There are all types of Bibles: glitter, hero, comic, study, and picture. "But which one is right?" is running through your mind.
Here are a few checkpoints on picking out the right Bible for your child:
1.) Start with the purpose.
What is the Bible for? Of course, I hope the answer is to read it. Let’s look beyond the fluff of the cover to what’s inside. Pictures help children visualize and understand biblical concepts. Verse boxes highlight bible verses that are great for children to memorize, and typically explain what they mean. Definition boxes explain words that children may not have heard or understand. Pictures, verse boxes, and definition boxes are helpful features for children as they are learning to read God’s Word.
2.) Consider the type of Bible.
Picture Bible, study Bible, or reference Bible? This part is easy: for children 5 and under, they should have a picture Bible or storybook Bible. These Bibles have large pictures with biblical stories written for a child's understanding. School-age children (1st-5th grades) should have full reference Bibles with the enhancements mentioned above. They are learning to read, and the Word of God is a great place to practice that! Study Bibles are helpful and have a great purpose, but should be used after 5th grade.
3.) Pick a translation.
ESV, HCSB, NIV, NKJV…which one? Like before, if the purpose of the Bible is for them to read it, then it's definitely best to get one that your child can read! After over 10 years of working in children’s ministry, I believe the best translation for school-age children is the Holman Christian Standard Bible. The HCSB is a balance between "word-for-word" and "thought-for-thought" translations. The English Standard Version is closer to a "word for word" translation, but can be more difficult for children to read.
So let's review: What’s the purpose? What type? What translation?
Whether it is a gift for Christmas, birthday, or "just because," getting a child a Bible is not just a gift; it’s an investment. Let's be sure that it’s a wise and well-thought-out investment. Now as to how to get them to read the Bible, well, that’s another topic altogether that I’ll save for next time!
Looking to buy a Bible right now? Here are a few ones I'd recommend to help you start your search! You can click the titles to visit their web page and learn more.
- The Big Picture Interactive Bible Stories for Toddlers (ages 1-2)
- The Big Picture Interactive Bible Storybook (ages 3-6)
- The Jesus Storybook Bible (ages 3-6)
- The Big Picture Interactive Bible (ages 5-11)
- HCSB Illustrated Study Bible for Kids (ages 5-11)