Saturday, February 5, 2011

Book Review: Bible Stories for Boys

Bible Stories for Boys. American Bible Society. Scholastic. 2011. January 2011. 18 pages.

First, I just want to say that I do appreciate the fact that there are publishers out there willing to create and publish Bible story books for children. The fact that Scholastic publishes a few faith-friendly titles a year for young children pleases me.

In this collection the focus is on nine men: Adam, Noah, Moses, David, Daniel, Jonah, John the Baptist, Peter, and Jesus. Each man is the subject of a two-page spread. One page shares a bible story through several stanzas of verse, the second page shares an illustration. Here is the poem on Adam:

When God spoke the world into place,
The sky, sun, moon, and stars,
Oceans waved their very first waves;
Green grass stretched out so far.

Lizards, lemurs, and lions
Wandered around the land,
While sea horses, sharks, and seals
Swam just beyond the sand.

And for his final masterpiece,
God breathed life into dust,
Creating man in his image,
The plan for all of us!

Adam and Eve raised the first family.
Adam named the animals too.
As the very first man on earth,
Adam had much to do!

(Genesis 1, 2, 4)

It is always interesting to see how complex stories are simplified "for children." The younger the audience, the simpler they are. But some of the significance, some of the magnificence is in the details. This struck me in particular with the story of Moses, with the exclusion of the ten plagues and the Passover. That miracle, that deliverance is not only THE significant event of Exodus, it is one of the primary events of the entire Old Testament--God delivering HIS people. It is in this story that God reveals his nature, his intentions, his relationship with HIS chosen people. It makes the story weaker, perhaps, to merely write, "Finally, God convinced the king to set his people free." 

The content, for the most part, works. I liked the selection. And the verses--while not the most amazing poetry--are serviceable enough. Together, they make a nice collection of bible stories--for BOYS AND GIRLS. (Though I would have loved, loved, loved to see Elijah instead of Jonah. There are a handful of Elijah stories (or Elisha stories for that matter) that are strong enough, action-oriented enough, miraculous enough that they would have worked really well in this collection! And Elijah would have been a more positive choice than Jonah, perhaps, since Jonah is mainly remembered for being the prophet who continually didn't get it!) 

The illustrations are not amazing. But they are SO MUCH BETTER than the ones included in Bible Stories for Girls. 

While the premise of these two collections doesn't thrill me--the focus on men in the bible for boys, the focus on women in the bible for girls--this collection is much stronger. I still believe that the bible is for everyone.  

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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