Saturday, February 11, 2012

Book Review: The Toddler's Bible

The Toddler's Bible. V. Gilbert Beers. 1992/2012. The 2012 edition is illustrated by Claudine Gevry. The 1992 edition is illustrated by Carole Boerke. David C. Cook. 432 pages.

I bought the 1992 edition of The Toddler's Bible. (I didn't even know a new edition was releasing within a few days! I believe the only difference between the two books is the cover art and the illustrations within. I believe the text by V. Gilbert Beers remains the same.)

The Toddler's Bible features 101 Bible stories retold for the very youngest audience. The stories are incredibly simplified and not exactly sophisticated--in terms of theology and doctrine. There are other books for preschoolers and early elementary readers that do a better job of that--such as The Big Picture Story Bible by David Helm; it is published by Crossway. I'd recommend that one even to adults. Read it cover to cover, and within a VERY short period of time, you'll know the story of the Bible, the gospel.

But what The Toddler's Bible lacks in complexity, it perhaps makes up for by diversity. It has a handful of Elijah stories, an Elisha story, a Job story, a story about Nehemiah, a story about Joash. These are stories that don't often get included! This one covers Bible stories other books just don't. Then again, some important events are skipped over completely. And some of what gets presented is incomplete. So how well is the Bible represented?

  • 52 stories come from the Old Testament.
  • 16 stories come from Genesis.
  • 18 stories cover Exodus to Ruth (Israel's Deliverance from Egypt, the Desert Years, the Settling in the Promised Land)
  • 18 stories cover 1 Samuel to Malachi (Israel's Establishment as A Kingdom, the Divided Kingdoms of Judah and Israel, the Exile Period, the Restoration of a Remnant)
  • 49 stories come from the New Testament
  • 39 stories come from the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John)
  • 10 stories come from other New Testament books (Acts, letters or epistles, etc.)

I thought it would be best to give you an example of the writing. After all, it is the text itself that will prove most important in deciding if this is a book you want to share with your children or grandchildren.

Noah Builds a Big Boat
"Build a big boat," God said. Noah loved God. He would obey God. Look at that boat that Noah built! It is bigger than three houses.
"Put animals on the boat," God said. So Noah put many animals on it. Noah and his family went on the boat. That's what God told them to do.  (24-27)
Jacob Meets Rachel
Look! Do you see that beautiful lady? Rachel helps her father with his sheep. Jacob sees Rachel too. He wants to meet her. How do you think he will do it? Now you know. Jacob gives some water to Rachel's sheep. Some day Jacob and Rachel will get married. (60-63)
Baby Moses
Shhhh. Baby Moses is sleeping. His mother hid him here. Please don't wake him. Some bad men want to hurt him. If he cries, they may find him. Look! A princess has found Baby Moses. She will take care of him. Thank You, God. (80-83)
God Promises a New Home
"Go into that land," God said. "I will give it to you."
"We can't," said some men. "The people are too big."
"We can," said other men. "God will help us. He promised!"
But the people would not go in. So they lived in the desert for a long time. They were very sad. (128-131)
David Fights a Giant
Look at that giant! His name is Goliath. He wants to fight David. How can David win? He has only a slingshot. Goliath has a big spear. But David asked God to help him. Goliath did not ask God to help. That's why David won. (156-159)
Baby Jesus
Shhhh. Do you see the baby? This is Baby Jesus. Shhhh. Do you see the animals? Baby Jesus is sleeping in a manger. Shhhh. The people of Bethlehem are asleep now. They do not know that this is God's Son. Shhhh. Whisper a prayer to God now. "Thank you, God, for sending Baby Jesus." (224-227)
Nicodemus Visits Jesus
Do you see that man with Jesus? That's Nicodemus. He is an important teacher. Nicodemus knew many things about God. But he knew that Jesus knew more than he did. "Let God give you a new life!" Jesus said. "It's like being born a second time." Nicodemus listened carefully. Do you think he learned something important that night? (260-263)
Jesus' Wonderful Stories
Everyone wants to hear Jesus. He has wonderful stories to tell. Be careful, people! You don't want to push Jesus into the lake, do you? That's better. Jesus knew what to do. He can preach from that boat now. Now Jesus will tell wonderful stories. The stories will tell us how to live for God. (296-299)
Jesus Dies on the Cross
Some men are nailing Jesus to a big wooden cross. He has not hurt them. But look what they are doing. Jesus died that day on the cross. He came to earth to do this. That's because He loves us so much. Jesus wants to help us live with God in heaven. When we sin, we can't go there. But Jesus died to take away our sin. He wants to be our Saviour. He will if we ask. Will you ask Him? (368-371)
There were some stories in The Toddlers Bible that I just liked, really liked. There were others that just left me unimpressed. Some of the wording just didn't work for me, and there were places it just felt a bit awkward. But there were plenty of stories that did work for me. So it isn't a book that I can easily dismiss. I think there are some stories that do make it worth your time.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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