Recommended Children's Bibles

Hands-On Bible NLT (Updated Edition)I don't like storybook Bibles.  There, I said it.  I mean, I've used them a lot with our children, and it's not like I've hated to do it, but I've regularly struggled with using them.  Being a scientist, always wanting things to be exact, I have a hard time with how storybook Bibles change wording, often softening up the text, and that so many stories are left out (sometimes there is one in particular that I am looking for).  Using them has been more like a concession, since most young children (especially in preschool age) will not learn accounts from the Bible by reading straight out of an "adult" Bible (trust me, I tried -- a lot).  Children are captivated by stories.

But I have to admit that using these types of Bibles has been growing on me over the past few years.  In a sense, I made myself use storybook Bibles, and I have grown in understanding why they are so important.  Whereas I would prefer to study passages and chapters from the Bible, I am seeing the importance in seeing the overall story of the Bible.  In fact, over the past couple of years, I have even read the entire New Testament, and part of the Old Testament, from The Message (which puts the Bible's text in contemporary English).  This is a big step for me, something I would never have guessed that I would have done 6 or 8 years ago.

The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His NameAll that being said, here are some recommended children's Bible storybooks (and one full kids' Bible):
    The Big Picture Story BibleThe Action Bible
  1. The Jesus Storybook Bible.  I am currently reading this to our kids at night, and we've done portions in the past as well.  I love how the author is intentional to connect every story to the message of the Gospel, fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  That is the main point, as evidenced by the subtitle "Every Story Whispers His Name."  I'm not a fan (as mentioned above) of how so much of the wording is changed from the original, and I feel like a lot of the text is overly-soft.  But if you are going to have one storybook Bible, this would be a great one to have.  
  2. The Big Picture Story Bible.  My almost-4-year-old really enjoys this one, as it has (as the title indicates) big, colorful illustrations.  Like The Jesus Storybook Bible, the purpose of this book is highlight that the entire Bible tells the story of God's huge love for us, and both of these Bibles are great for preschoolers through young elementary-age (at which point I think they need to begin to shift more and more towards a "real" Bible). 
  3. The Action Bible.  I saw this recommended on The Gospel Coalition, and I am anxious to get one for my kids.  More specifically, I am thinking of my 7-year-old son, Elijah.  He is a voracious reader, especially regarding action and adventure stories (he just finished reading through the entire Chronicles of Narnia series).  I'm curious to see what the text looks like, but I love the concept of him seeing the Bible as full of heroes, especially when we recognize that Jesus is our ultimate Hero.  
  4. Hands-On Bible NLT (Updated Edition) (see the picture above).  This is the version of the Bible that our church uses in our Elementary programming.  I highly recommend it as a first "real" Bible for kids.  I have used it to read to my children at night, and we use it for their personal reading time (our church provides a 3-day-per-week Bible reading plan called ROAD; see the link below).  Also, this Bible includes lots of activities, fun facts, and useful references, which makes our kids love to thumb through and read about.  Is there anything cooler than seeing your kids willingly sit down and check out God's word?

My friend Will Bouton shared his thoughts on why he regularly reads God's word to his young sons.  He and I agree that the most important thing is to just do something.  We don't have to have the "perfect" Bible or storybook Bible, and we don't have to be a deep theologian, but we do have to lead our kids.  It is our call and responsibility to lead our children in their spiritual formation. 

Have you used any of these?  Any other suggestions?

Related Links:


  1. A recent one for ages 5-10 by Crossway,

  2. We are two weeks into Long Story Short by Marty Machowski. It's 10 minutes 5 days a week and like the Jesus Storybook Bible each lesson points to Jesus. So far the girls and I are enjoying it.

  3. We just got Kate the ESV Children's Bible,

    It's awesome, all pictures actually match the text on the page and I personally like that there are no commentary/explanatory notes within the text (only an intro paragraph at the beginning of each book). I think this helps her to not confuse anyone's thoughts/comments on the text as actual scripture.

    In the back, there is a section of "Study Helps" and after quickly reviewing the section I think the theology that is being taught in these articles is really clear and doesn't shy away from hard topics.

  4. Thanks. We were looking for something for sophie' s fifth bday that would be a little more"real"than her current story book bible. Do you know anything about the international childrens version?

  5. Kelley -- Do you mean the New International Reader's Version (NIrV)? I think that is common among kids' bibles; Hannah has one that we got her when she was around Sophie's age. It's pretty kid friendly. But you may want to go with the NLT translation, since that is what we use with our Camp Grace curriculum (she'll be in 1st grade next year, right?). You can order one through this post, or probably even just buy one from the church. Ask Nicky Darling.

  6. Thanks for the tip on the NIrV, but it looks like Tommy Nelson has published an ICB. That's the one I was curious about Here's a link to one of the Bibles:
    PS - Sophie's still in 4K... let's not rush her :-)

  7. Oops. I always think she's older than she really is. Firstborn kids grow up fast, especially girls!

    I haven't read / used that Bible, but it looks like it has good reviews. Thanks for the link.

  8. We have just gotten the Action Bible and Elliott is glued to it. He has always been a fan of comic-type books. As we read/look at the Bible, it has driven us back to my Bible or Scott's Bible to elaborate on the content/text. So glad you listed it here!

  9. One more thing...there are no wimpy angels in the Action Bible!

  10. Yeah, Elijah has forgone just about every other book, too. I think he's on his 3rd time through it.

    Yeah, no wimpy angels!!