Book Review: The Jesus Storybook Bible

JESUS STORYBOOK BIBLEI love this book and everything about it.

When my daughter was an infant, it was cool in our circles to buy this Bible for your children, and a friend of the family bought a copy for our daughter. Over the years, there have been many children’s Bibles that I have seen that did not meet my expectations, but this one has some real stand-out characteristics and I would highly recommend it as a first “Bible” for children.

Great thing number one: the stories are just that; stories. Each story told from the Bible (and make note: this is only a collection of many significant stories, maybe fifty) is in a separate, headed chapter and uses simple, straight-forward, interesting, engaging, and even sometimes poetic language to make these stories immensely accessible, especially to kids. It even occasionally asks your kids to answer a question or just wonder about something or place themselves in someone else’s shoes. Often, the kids will ask for “one more.”

JESUS STORYBOOK ILLUSTRATION

Great thing number two: the illustrations. This is actually my favorite part of this book. I love the illustrations. They are more culturally accurate than most children’s Bibles, which is great. Not everyone looks like a superhero or a model. In fact, no one does. The illustrations are beautiful and gentle and artful all at the same time. I often find myself fantasizing that it was my job to illustrate this Bible and that I did it even a fraction as well as this illustrator. So creative. So aesthetically pleasing.

JESUS STORYBOOK ILLUSTRATION2

Great thing number three: the unity of the stories. This is, I believe, the reason this storybook Bible trended in the early 2000s and why it is still very popular now. All the stories end with a paragraph or so which tie it to the overall arch of the Bible, at least as how this author sees it. All the Old Testament stories point toward Jesus, and all the New Testament stories point toward Jesus loving and rescuing us. The book just screams, “This is the plan! It was always the plan, to save the people that God loves and to do it through great sacrifice!” There are also lesser themes, like God using regular people, love conquering all, and God as a shepherd.

I’m sure not everyone loves this book as much as I do. Its issues are the flip-side of its strengths. (Isn’t it that way with everything?) Obviously, it only tells a limited number of Biblical stories, and someone had to make the decision what to include and what to omit. Overall, the edge is taken off of things, which is consistent with modern American parenting. Also, as a paraphrase, it does a significant amount of interpretation, some of which you may not agree with. (Personally, I think it does a commendable job, there.) The book does not use direct quotes, but re-tells the stories as you might for a small child. Obviously. It does, in small letters, tell the reader from what scripture the story is coming from, making it easy to reference and compare, or even supplement.

This storybook Bible is not, literally, a Bible at all, but a series of paraphrased Bible stories for children. I would highly recommend it for small children, or even for older people who are new to the Christian faith. From there, though, one would want a direct-translation Bible, of which there are many to choose.

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We read (and re-read) The Jesus Storybook Bible, re-told by Sally Lloyd-Jones and illustrated by Jago. It was published in 2007 by Zondervan.

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