Thursday, May 30, 2019

Book Review: My First Read-Aloud Bible

My First Read-Aloud Bible. Retold by Mary Batchelor & Penny Boshoff. 2010. February 2010. Scholastic. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Making Our World

Long ago, when God
began to make
everything, the earth
was dark and empty.

God said, "Earth needs light."
And light appeared. God 
made the sun to shine by
day and the moon and stars
to light the night.

God was pleased with what he had done.

I believe that Christian families need many Bible story book collections to read with little ones as they grow. Perhaps because it's hard to find a perfectly, perfect book that meets all the needs--and continues to meet all the needs--of a growing child. There are books that focus more on building solid doctrine and are theology-driven. There are books that focus more on narrative writing--embellishing stories at times. There are books that focus more on interaction: narrators directly speaking to readers, asking questions, drawing conclusions, etc. There are books that are written exclusively in rhyming verse. Some are written intentionally with a limited vocabulary. There are books that are written exclusively "for boys" or "for girls." Some story collections are short--a handful of stories from each testament. Some story collections are long--many, many stories from both testaments.

My First Read-Aloud Bible is not theology-driven. The narrative isn't directly concerned with shaping morals or values or building a solid theology in the hearts and minds of the readers. The emphasis is not on mankind's sin or God's grace. If you're looking for a text to lead you step by step to faith in Christ, this isn't that book. There are plenty of dots, but it is up to readers to play connect-the-dot. The narrator isn't going to do that for you.

My First Read-Aloud Bible does not speak directly to readers. It doesn't seek to be an interactive read-aloud. Readers aren't asked questions about how characters might have felt or what they might have done if they were in that situation. The text isn't written to tell you how to feel or how to respond to the story. (For example, aren't you thankful that God gave us rainbows to remind us of His goodness?) Readers also aren't asked to find rabbits or donkeys or lambs or anything like that in the illustrations.

My First Read-Aloud Bible is NOT written in rhyming verse. I, for one, am relieved. Rhyme is so very difficult to get right. It is just sad, sad, super-sad when good stories from the Bible are turned into mediocre verse.

My First Read-Aloud Bible does not seek to be super-creative in its narrative. It isn't about embellishing details and making stories "come alive." It isn't trying to turn bible stories into fairy tales, fables, or nursery tales. The language is not fanciful and prose-y. Instead the text is straight forward, factual, informational. It isn't that it communicates ALL the details of a given story. It doesn't give readers everything they need for placing the story into context. But what is there in the text is factual.

My First Read-Aloud Bible offers a VARIETY of stories told in CHRONOLOGICAL order from both testaments. It isn't comprehensive and thorough. It doesn't boast that it contains every single story or that it covers events from every single book of the Bible. But it's a good variety. I do believe that reading this one cover to cover would give readers a good idea of what the Bible is all about. Perhaps not the whys of the Bible. (Again, it isn't theology-driven. It isn't written with the purpose to lead your child to Christ, to bring them to their knees and praying for forgiveness.)

I think this would be a great addition for Christian families. But I wouldn't go so far as to say that this one book is the only book you'll ever need.

Here are how the Ten Commandments are presented:
God said to Moses, "These rules will help my people every day: Put me first and love me best. Don't worship anyone but me. Don't use my name carelessly. Keep one day each week as a resting day with me. Obey your father and mother. Don't hurt others. Keep love between a husband and wife special. Don't take what isn't yours. Don't tell lies about other people. Don't be jealous of other people and want what they have." (54-55)
And here is the Lord's Prayer:
Our Father in heaven, may everyone know and love you. Come and be our King. Give us today the food we need. Forgive the bad things we do. Help us to forgive others too. When we want to do something bad, help us choose to do good instead. (187)
Each story is on a two-page spread. With colorful illustrations. Some stories are more interconnected than others. For example, David has five stories. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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