Saturday, March 19, 2016

Bible Review: NIrV Study Bible for Kids

NIrV Study Bible for Kids. 2015. Zondervan/Zonderkidz. 1824 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Is it a study Bible? Is it for kids?

It is definitely for kids. The translation is the New International Reader's Version. The text is essentially as simple as it can get while being an actual translation of the Bible. (As opposed to say a paraphrase OR a children's bible story book.)

Here are a few verses so that you can see for yourself what the translation is like.
God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son. Anyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life. John 3:16
The Lord is my shepherd. He gives me everything I need. He lets me lie down in fields of green grass. He leads me beside quiet waters. He gives me new strength. He guides me in the right paths for the honor of his name. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid. You are with me. Your shepherd’s rod and staff comfort me. You prepare a feast for me right in front of my enemies. You pour oil on my head. My cup runs over. I am sure that your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life. And I will live in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23:1-6
I believe it is perhaps designed to be a child's first Bible. There is a special two-page spread right after the presentation page that explains in very simple terms about the Bible. 

The Bible is…
  • called the Word of God because it is the book of God.
  • Inspired by God--he directed 40 people to write down his words.
  • organized into 66 books which were written over 1,000 years.
  • divided into headings, chapters, and verses within each book.
What is in the Bible?
The Bible tells us about…

  • Who God is and how he loves people.
  • Boys, girls, kings, queens, miracles, trials, friends, enemies, angels, demons, wars, victories, heaven, and hell.
  • Sin (turning away from God) and how sin hurts us and the world.
  • The way God wants us to live--with love for him and others.

The Bible can be divided into sections like books are organized in a library.

The Old Testament

  • Law
  • History
  • Poetry
  • Major Prophets
  • Minor Prophets

The New Testament

  • Gospels
  • Church History
  • Letters
  • Prophecy

A chart on the next page shows which books of the Bible go into each section. I could see this being very useful for a young child. You do have to start somewhere after all. You have to be taught these Bible basics. And this Bible's introductory matter does that in a bright and colorful way.

A few pages further on, readers find a "How to Use This Bible" spread. This tells readers--of all ages--what makes this edition of the NIrV so special, so unique. For example, it has book introductions; it has special features like "brain game," "check it out," and "soak it up." "Soak it up" are suggested memory verses. "Brain Game" are questions to ask yourself about the text. "Check it out" add a little background and context to understanding the text. (But mainly just illustrations and summaries of what's going on in the text.)

If that was it, if that was all there was to this study Bible, it would be a bit disappointing to me. I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable calling it a study Bible. But fortunately there is more.

Not all the features are to be found within the text of the Bible. "Life in New Testament Times" is a five page article to help children contextualize what they're reading. There are paragraphs about places of worship, the laws of God, the Sabbath Day, different religious groups, the Roman Empire, tax collectors, everyday life, houses, food, clothing, work, schools, etc. There is also a dictionary that is about eight pages long.

One of my favorite features is called "Reading the Bible." This shows young readers THREE ways to read the Bible. I'll show you option A down below. But option B focuses on top Bible stories. And Option C is choose your own. But the recommendation is still just a chapter a day.

Option A

  1. Get three bookmarks and put one at Genesis 1, one at Psalm 1, and one at Matthew 1.
  2. Each day, read one chapter starting at Genesis 1 or Matthew 1 and move your bookmark to where you finished. When you finish one book of the Bible, continue to the next one, or jump over to one of your other bookmarks and start reading there.
  3. Starting at Psalm 1, each day read one or two verses in Psalms and continue through Proverbs. When you read the end of Proverbs, start again at Psalm 1.

Readers can also learn about:

  • Worship
  • Prayer
  • Love
  • Attributes of God
  • Attributes of Jesus
  • Attributes of the Holy Spirit
  • The Ten Commandments
  • The Lord's Prayer
  • The ABC's of Becoming a Christian (Admit, Believe, Confess)
  • Quick definitions of key words like sin, repentance, grace, forgiveness, hell, and heaven

So there is some substance to this children's study Bible. The substance is more in clusters than spread throughout within chapters and verses. But it is there to be found if you look! There are also quite a few illustrations keeping it reader-friendly. It might be intimidating perhaps to go straight from a Bible story book to an actual Bible. And the illustrations are very nice, very colorful.

I do like that this is a KIDS Bible. It isn't a "Boy's" Bible or a "Girl's" Bible. While gender-specific Bibles can be attractive and appealing on the outside, I'm not sure it's truly necessary to have separate Bibles for boys and girls--or men and women for that matter. I've reviewed both in the past. And I believe I noted it before, but, the boy's Bible I found had more substantive notes in it than the girl's bible.

So is it a study Bible? For adults who own the MacArthur Study Bible or the ESV Study Bible might have to search a great deal until they find something "study-ish" about it, I think it is a study Bible. If you knew nothing, and this was your first "real" Bible, I think there would be plenty of information to get you started. Now I would say it's for a younger age group. By the time you're in fourth or fifth grade--depending on your reading level, or, reading ability--I think there would be better Bibles to help you get started studying God's Word.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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