There is one book that stands above all others: The Bible! Somewhere around 6 billion copies have been printed since 1816. It is the best-selling book of all time, having been translated into 636 different languages! Needless to say, the Bible is the most popular literary work in the history of the world. But it is also the most polarizing, leaving its readers enlightened, enticed, or enraged, but not much in between. The reason for the polarity is because of the Bible’s claims. Consider these few:
The Bible claims to be God’s Word (“All Scripture is breathed out by God…” 2 Timothy 3:16).
The Bible claims to be perfect (“The law of the LORD is perfect...” Psalm 19:7-9).
The Bible claims to be relevant for all of life (“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Tim 3:16).
The Bible claims to hold the keys to eternal life (“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,” John 5:39).
As Christians, we believe these claims to be true.
And if they are true, then as parents the greatest gift we could ever give our children is God’s Word. The reason we give our children the gift of God’s Word is so that they may know the God of God’s Word. The Bible isn’t simply a book about morals, ethics, and values. It is THE book that leads us to THE God of the universe who happens to be Creator and Savior.
But the Bible can be very intimidating as well...for us and for our children. That is why I have written before on how to read the Bible with your kids, which served as a sort of a starter pack for reading the Bible. I’ve also written before about when to make the transition from a storybook Bible to the real deal. But I’ve never written about what resources work best for all the various ages and stages of our children...until now!
[As a side note, I highly encourage parents to read the actual Bible to their children beginning at the earliest age possible. I have nothing against Bible story books; in fact, I am going to suggest a couple below. But the fact is, when Moses encouraged the Israelites to diligently teach their children the words that had been commanded, he didn’t have a picture story book in mind. If all Scripture is for all of life, then it can be for all of life’s stages and all of life’s ages.]
Ages 0-3: “The Big Picture Story Bible” (Author: David R. Helm)
This Bible storybook has nursery rhyme-type illustrations and a simplistic script (meaning, it isn’t very wordy).
The content follows and explains clearly the redemptive narrative of the Bible (how God saves sinners).
A favorite quote comes out of the early pages when Adam and Eve had just sinned and subsequently were condemned to death but given the hope of the gospel: “God gave Adam and Eve a hint that he would not always be angry with them. God promised that one day someone would come and crush Satan’s power over people.”
“The Big Picture Story Bible” is perfect for teaching our youngest children the stories of the Bible, giving them a grasp of not only the major events and characters, but also the hero: Jesus!
Ages 2-75: “The Jesus StoryBook Bible” (Author: Sally Lloyd Jones)
No other children’s storybook Bible has quite captivated the hearts of its readers like this book. Over 2 million copies have been sold, which means over 2 million households (English and Spanish speaking) have been able to partake in one of the greatest literary gifts given to this generation.
The writing is relatable to children and adults of all ages (hence, the age range given above) and many parents have even professed a greater understanding of the goodness of the gospel of Jesus Christ after having read this book.
Many churches would serve their children well by using this book as their curriculum. And many homes would serve their children (and adults) well by coming back to this book year after year after year.
The book itself journeys through the narrative of Scripture, hitting the highlights (like many children’s books), but very poetically communicating the beauty of the gospel.
Ages 3-5: “Everything A Child Should Know About God” (Author: Kenneth N. Taylor)
This theological treatise for small children will warm even your heart with its simplicity and tenderness.
The book itself doesn’t work through the stories of the Bible (although it covers some of the biggies like creation, the fall of man, as well as the birth, miracles, and death of Jesus) but rather focuses on teaching children basic theological concepts (i.e. nature and character of God and man).
The book’s illustrations are captivating and each page is interactive, introducing a theme, an explanation of that theme, and a question surrounding the information given to make the children think about what was communicated.
“Everything A Child Should Know About God” is additionally great for those children who are learning to read.
Ages 4-10: “The Ology: Ancient Truths, Ever New” (Author: Marty Machowski)
This book is an absolute gem, teaching children over 70 theological topics straight from Scripture.
The visual illustrations are unique, warm, and pleasant to the eye. The content itself is clear and well written.
I assure you that this book will not only teach your children theology, but it will teach you as well.
Many theological books written for adults that attempt to explain massive and important areas of doctrine, such as the trinity, sin, God’s covenant, atonement, the church, and the Holy Spirit (to name a few), don’t do as good and succinct of a job as this book does.
Ages 5-8: “The Biggest Story: How The Snake Crusher Brings Us Back To The Garden” (Author: Kevin DeYoung)
This story book tells the story of Scripture in the most honest and clear way, making Jesus the hero in every sense (which has caused some to not enjoy the book because they think the author is too hard on mankind).
The book highlights all of the big moments, stories, and people with one goal in mind: Esteeming the snake crusher (Jesus) and his plan to eradicate sin, evil, Satan, and death.
One of the book’s final statements is its finest: “The Snake Crusher is coming back again to wipe away all the bad guys and wipe away every tear.”
As your child reads through this fast moving rendition of Scripture, he will be able to grasp the full scope of the Bible and the core of the gospel: that Jesus saves sinners!
Ages 6-12: “The Action Bible” (Author: Doug Mauss)
This comic looking story book Bible, whose illustrator hails from DC and Marvel Comics (Sergio Cariello), will visually bring to life over 200 stories from Scripture right before your child’s eyes.
In all honesty, nothing else has done the work of teaching my sons the stories of the Bible like this phenomenal literary and artistic work. Your child will feel like he or she is actually in the story.
Because The Action Bible covers so much material, your children will not just learn the most popular stories, but also many of the more obscure stories as well.
Additionally, the book is very interactive, providing a key verse, a couple questions to ponder, and a few ways to put the new truths you’ve learned into ACTION.
Ages 8-12: “Following Jesus Bible” (ESV Version)
This is a great first Bible for kids who have had a steady dose of storybook Bibles, who can read well, and who can comprehend what they read fairly well.
The Bible itself is relatively straightforward, with a few feature items on various pages such as additional information (i.e. “Who were Noah’s Sons?” Genesis 9; “Why is the mention of women significant?” Luke 8”1-3).
This Bible looks a little more “grown up” than the typical first Bible which gives children the idea that they have entered the Big Leagues in their spiritual journey.
Ages 13-17: “The ESV Student Study Bible”
This Bible is perfect for teenagers who are serious about really diving in and learning from God’s Word.
It is adapted from the ESV study Bible, which is arguably one of the best study Bibles in circulation.
The point of a study Bible for teens is for them to continue to see and learn how the Bible applies for all of life.
With over 12,000 notes, introductions and explanations of each book of the Bible, maps, illustrations, and “did you know” facts, this Bible is a can’t miss for your teenager.
There is nothing more important than your child being known and loved by Jesus, which hopefully in turn would cause them to know and love Jesus. The most incredible way to make this happen is to give your children ample quality resources while they grow up, so that they can journey through what it looks like to “hide God’s Word in their heart...” (Ps 119:11).