By Christy Olson
The Bible has been translated and paraphrased thousands of different ways. How can you know when is ‘best’ for you and your family?
The answer to what is ‘best’ depends on what you are seeking! For younger learners it can be best when everyone works from the same translation of the Bible. At other times, however, hearing passages translated in different ways can spark discussion and bring clarity. Whichever version you use, encourage the participants to get to know their Bible, making notes and marking passages that are meaningful for them.
Many churches and families make Bible presentations at certain times during a child’s life: at baptism, for birthdays, during a certain point in Sunday school (often third grade).
As parents and teachers we want to know what the best way is for children of all ages to come to the scriptures. This can vary by the child’s age and learning style. Here are a few things to consider when choosing a Bible for your preschool to elementary school reader.
Bible storybooks are best for preschoolers and non-readers. To engage children in the story, Bible storybooks use illustrations to enhance the child’s visual representation of the story. These illustrations may be small and best seen by one child. Some well-known Bible stories command their own books, such as Noah’s Ark and stories from Jesus’ life.
When choosing a children’s storybook, look for stories that stay true to the Bible story. They should also engage children in further questions about the story. The story may have pieces that apply to the child’s everyday life, or wondering questions that help children process the story. The words need to be easily understood by children and the language age-appropriate.
Illustrations are very important in Bible storybooks. The representation of Bible characters needs to be realistic as well as inclusive. Look for illustrations that accurately represent the story’s culture. If few women and children are shown, then a vital piece of the story is missing. Look for illustrations that include daily life in Bible times to increase the child’s immersion in the story.
Part two of this article will be posted on Friday, July 2
–Christy Olson has a B.A. in elementary education and elementary music and an M.A. in Theology. She has worked in ministry with children , youth, and families for 30 years, the last 20 as an Associate in Ministry for the ALC/ELCA.