Written by Kenneth N. Taylor, Illustrated by Jenny Brake (10Publishing)
This is the latest offering in the “A Child Should Know” series, and brings more than 120 key Bible events to life with clever retelling by Kenneth N Taylor and beautiful illustrations by Jenny Brake.
Our family has appreciated Everything A Child Should Know About God (an earlier book in the series), so when I saw this had been released I immediately bought copies as gifts for the young people I know. It slots into the series well, helping primary school-aged children access and engage with the purple passages of Scripture at a deeper level than their earlier children’s Bible story books may have done.
Each Bible story is retold over two pages and ends with a few questions designed to promote comprehension and discussion. It’s easily the kind of book you could read each evening with your children without it dragging on too long and delaying bedtime.
As the chapters occasionally summarise several Bible passages into one story – such as when events are told in different books of the Bible – clear Bible references allow readers to easily jump back into Scripture. The Old Testament stories not only celebrate the great achievements of God through his people but often foreshadow the greater work to come when Jesus steps onto the scene. Throughout the book, anticipation for the coming of the Messiah builds with each Old Testament story,
I was surprised to come across some Old Testament passages retold that aren’t included in many toddler Bibles. Although containing some confronting details of war, sin and death, their retelling is a soft entry into facing these concepts without scaring young ones. For example, the retelling of “Jerusalem Burns” (2 Kings 25; Jeremiah 37-39) doesn’t shy away from describing what happened to King Zedekiah when he was caught by the Babylonian army – blinding him and jailing him until death. Instead, it helpfully focuses on the root of the problem, which was the King’s disobedience to God.
There’s always been discussion about the place of children’s books like these, with some families arguing that our time is better spent jumping straight into Scripture and skipping books that offer Bible retellings rather than considered translations of the original text. There’s a push from some Christians to reach for a child-friendly Bible, such as the Contemporary English Version, the Good News Bible or the New International Reader’s Version, as these allow kids to engage with God’s word directly.
However, Bible Stories every Child Should Know doesn’t set itself up in competition with Scripture, but rather is designed to be complementary. The author, Kenneth N. Taylor, had a big role to play in the creation of the New Living Translation of the Bible, and his desire has always been to make God’s word accessible and understandable to all, regardless of age or academic ability.
This collection of stories is aimed at early primary-aged children, from four to seven years of age. For families seeking to engage their kids with classic Bible stories and encourage discussion, this is a great addition to the bookshelf.