It seems to be the custom among some groups to sneer just a bit at Bible story books. Although I don’t think it’s wrong to have Bible reading time for children of all ages, I also do not think it is wrong to use written materials specifically designed to teaching children about God. In some ways, a guide to parents (particularly fathers) is helpful in developing a habit of talking about God. Fathers and children may grow out of these books, but I see them as having tremendous value when children and families are young.
We just finished The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes once again. I think this is the third or fourth time we’ve gone through it.
I have the older edition, the one with realistic illustrations. I feel somewhat strongly that the illustrations should not be cartoonish, because we’re trying to communicate the reality of God’s Word. Bible stories are not in the same category as their many picture books, so I like for the illustrations to be distinctive as well. I’m not suggesting that children will be confused, but that I have a specific goal that is communicated best with realistic artwork.
Each picture comes with a Bible story that Taylor explains in simple, easy to understand language, without distorting the truth of God’s Word. I appreciate that Taylor does not add conjecture or imagined details for interest. When we first started reading the book, I was bothered by the “negative” parts of the stories. It seemed, especially in the Old Testament section, that people were always making God angry. But I came to realize that without God’s anger at sin and wickedness, the need for salvation is minimized. I have concluded that the book provides a good balance.
The stories are short, but they are understandable for a young child, particularly for children ages 2 through 4, roughly. Our baby (13 months) climbs up occasionally on daddy’s lap when he’s reading, but most of the time she’s in the room, aware of the routine, but not understanding the story. Bethel (three years old next week) understands some of it. Some of her lack of understanding is developmental, I believe, and some is simply a lack of attention. Having pictures helps, and I’ve noticed that when the picture engages her mind, she’s more likely to pay attention.
Finally, each story includes good questions and Scripture references. We’ll probably come back to this book in a bit, and read the Scripture instead of the story.
For now, we started going through Leading Little Ones to God. I’ll tell you what I think when we’ve gone through it a bit more, but so far we’ve been pleased with it.