Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Bibles for Kids and Teens

Arrested. Tortured. Martyred. Burned at the stake. I read an article the other day discussing how so many people gave up their lives fighting for our right to have the Bible in our own language. It also discussed how the latest studies show that only a small percentage of Americans actually read the Bible. We don’t know how to discern truth from lies because we’re not reading and studying the truth for ourselves. We just trust that whatever our pastor is saying or whatever nice “Christian” thought we see on facebook must be true. It’s not because we don’t have a Bible available to us. It’s because we choose to not read it. So this post comes with a challenge: don’t let those martyrs’ sacrifices be in vain. Open up your Bible and read God’s Word for yourself – as many days a week as you can!

Should you mark up a book? We get told from the time we are young to not draw or write in a book! Treat books with respect! Especially library books! Then we reach college and learn that it’s an advantage to buy a used textbook that someone else has highlighted – it saves you the trouble of trying to find the main points or the answers to a test question! But Bibles? Aren’t they sacred? Don’t they need to be sat on an altar on display or something? Actually, there’s a great quote that says “A Bible that is falling apart is the sign of a life that is not.” And Bibles have started to take a direction to specifically encourage us to mark in them! Some of the latest Bibles for children and teens are no exception to the rule. Like all good business companies, the publishing companies of Bibles know how to follow trends. The latest Bibles sent to me for review are examples of the benefit of following trends though!

The Plans I Have For You Holy Bible
This Bible is another NIV, 2011 children's Bible. It is targeted at elementary aged children - from kids old enough to read to about 6th or 7th grade.
This Bible contains various insert pages written by the author of The Plans I Have For You (Amy Parker). These show how God had big plans for the characters in the Bible and then apply it to kids' lives today - how God has big plans for them. For example: one of the "God's Big Plans" inserts focuses on how God had a plan for Esther and then at the end it says "Take some time to consider where God has placed you and why. Perhaps you have been chosen for such a time as this." Another example, a bit different, is for Psalm 37:4. It it entirely application focused since the verse isn't a story of a character. It discusses how learning more about God brings you true joy and how His desires become your desires.
The other insert found in this Bible is "Promise Prayers" - a verse and then a prayer written out for children to pray. For example, there is one for Proverbs 24:14, thanking God for wisdom and guidance and asking God to help "be loyal to the study of Your Word."
There are also 100 key verses highlighted in light blue. 
The biggest criticism of this Bible is that there are no book introductions. It is clearly meant to be focused on application, not study. It doesn't explain or help children understand any of the context or culture. 

The Investigator's Holy Bible
This Bible is an NIV, 2011 children's Bible. It is almost like a study Bible for kids. It is jam packed full of special features that help kids understand the Bible times, people, and places. Each book of the Bible is introduced with who wrote it, when it was written, what happens in it and a "best part" in the opinion of the fictional characters who are explaining all of it. There are "Breakthrough" sections where it explains answers to questions kids might have about the text such as "What is a genealogy" or "What does it mean when Jesus says 'Show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices'?" Another interesting element is "The Witness" sections where it explains the meaning of names and helps children understand a tiny bit about who characters were. "The Scene" sections tell about places mentioned in the Bible such as Mount Zion or Thessalonica or Sheba. It explains even what some of those places are called today. The final element added to this Bible is the "Case Closed" section where, at the end of every book of the Bible, they give a brief summary and an application challenge. It also includes 7 maps at the end of the Bible and a concordance with 2,474 word entries. 
Overall, this seems to be a very good Bible to give children. It explains a lot of things, making sense out of parts that can be confusing to children. The only common children's Bible element I see missing from it is the highlighted memory verses. If this were my preferred translation, I would purchase a number of copies to be the giveaway Bibles for my Awana clubbers and campers. 

The Holy Bible – Journal Edition – For Girls
This Bible, NIV 2011, has no extra devotions of special features. What makes it so special isn’t the pretty cover with a design that will appeal to girls of all ages or the pretty pink elastic bookmark to help shut it. What makes it special is that on every single page, there are a couple inches of extra margin on the side of it with faint gray lines you can write notes on.

Some might question giving a journaling Bible to children, but children take their Bibles to Sunday School, mid-week programs, camp, and some even have Bible studies or study time in their homes. They can write notes on the lessons they are learning. I have sent through plenty of messages for children that include things children could write down in their Bibles. I personally think that while study Bibles are great, turning your own Bible into a study Bible is even better! I have notes in my Bible from the time I was a child! (They were copied from a previous Bible and this Bible has been rebound after falling apart, but they are still notes from childhood and teen years.) If I had children, I would strongly, strongly consider giving them a journaling Bible – and teaching them how to use it!

Published by Zonderkidz, 2016

The Wonders of Creation – Holy Bible

This Bible, NIV 2011 also lacks the special features or devotions. What makes it so unique is that it has followed one of the biggest trends of 2016 – adult coloring pages. Of course, you wouldn’t call the coloring pages in a children’s Bible “Adult” coloring pages, but they are that same style – lots of small elements to color in. There are about 50 coloring pages themed around a verse contained in the Bible.

Kids’ Devotional Bible
This Bible, NIrV, 2014 is a Bible meant to appeal to boys or girls with a chalkboard drawing style cover. It includes over 300 devotions. The advantage of these devotions is that they really push the kids to be reading their Bibles. Each devotion begins with a passage the kids are supposed to read. Then there’s the short devotion. It concludes with a suggested other reference to look up to further the lesson. That’s the weekday devotions. The Saturday and Sunday devotions are combined into one, but still have separate reading assignments for each day. They also include an activity to do. Each devotion even has a little box to check to say you’ve read the devotion.
Published by Zonderkidz, 2016

And now, here are some Bibles to consider for your young ones:
NIrV Minecrafters Bible
One of the most popular conversation topics between young boys this year is minecraft. The video game that allows you to build and interact sucks hours of time away from boys. So Zondervan has released a Bible themed around that favorite subject. It actually does not contain much for special features. The cover is minecraft themed and there are 22 pages inside that contain a minecraft assignment. It highlights a Bible story and then tells readers to go build something specific on minecraft in response to it. Beyond that though, it's just a plain Bible. There are no special features in the text or at the beginning/end.

NKJV Color Code Bible
When I am studying something or trying to memorize something, I color code my notes or memory verses to help me remember them. So I was really excited when I saw this Bible up for review and I was not disappointed! It uses 7 colors to identify themes in the Bible - Spiritual growth/living your faith, prayer/praise, Heaven, God, Jesus, Sin/evil, Cleansed of sin/New life. So as you read through the Bible, certain verses have a colored background behind them to help you recognize it fits into the theme. That alone makes this Bible a great resource, but it goes beyond that. There are a bunch of pages of introduction at the beginning explaining the following: What Is The Bible? Who Wrote The Bible? Why Should You Read The Bible? What The Color Code Is, Why Did God Send Us The Bible? About The New King James Version. Daily Bible Reading Plans (4 options) and an index of all the highlighted verses. Then at the end there is a journal section for a family tree, listing favorite verses, songs, etc, prayer requests, and 1 page for notes. It includes 4 maps as well.

Adventure Bible for Little Ones

The Adventure Bible has been around for years. It’s probably the most popular Bible for children. In the past few years though, they’ve taken that further and released a number of companion items. This one is a little board book (and therefore “safe”) for toddlers. It contains (with creative titles) the stories of Creation, Noah’s Ark, Moses, David & Goliath, Daniel and the Lion’s Den, Jonah, Jesus’ birth, Jesus’ baptism, Jesus’ ministry, Jesus’ ascension. It ends on a creative note, focusing on how “the adventure” isn’t done yet – noting Jesus’ second coming. Unfortunately and surprisingly, it leaves out the most important story: Jesus’ death and resurrection. 

NIV, Adventure Bible, Hardcover, Full Color
I personally grew up with the Adventure Bible. It is the NIV translation. You can still purchase on amazon some of the 1984 translation Bibles, but if you want to buy in the bookstores, you will need to go with the 2010/11 translation. The unique features to this Bible are: maps in the back, Jesus words in red letters, inserts on things such as children in the Bible, kings of Israel & Judah, the ten commandments for kids, etc. It also has “words to remember” within the text – little sections highlighting particular verses for kids to memorize. It has “Life In The Bible Times” sections where it explains some custom or cultural aspect of the text. It has “Let’s Live It” – sections where it provides an application challenge, often an actual activity children can do.

NIV, Faithgirlz Bible, Hardcover
  It’s kind of hard to go wrong with a Bible that has it’s special features written by your most favorite author. Nancy Rue is the designer of all of the little sections in the Faithgirlz Bible. The features of this Bible are: “Dream Girl” – a section that helps you imagine yourself in t he setting, “Bring It On” – application focused quizzes, “Oh I Get It” – interesting facts and explanations to confusing things, “Book Introductions” which includes a hint of application along with a summary of what the book is about, “Is There A Little ______ In You” – this takes a character of the Bible and challenges you to learn the lesson they did/didn’t, “Between You And Me”, a place to journal about your life, “Between God and Me” – a place to journal about your walk with God, writing out prayers to Him. The whole thing is beautifully done to attract young girls. It’s part of the whole faithgirlz brand which creatures materials for girls about 10-14 to help them grow spiritually.

NIV, Big Dreams, Big Prayers Bible for Kids, Hardcover
This is a brand new Bible. It could target either gender, but I think especially boys would be drawn to the black, green, red and blue colors. It seems to be geared at about middle elementary-Jr. High, maybe ages 8-15. It’s not “kiddish” enough that a teenager would feel a need to get a new Bible though. The highlights of this Bible are the devotions focused around prayers and prayer journaling pages. It also has some insert pages with things such as “how to use the Bible” or “books of the Bible”. It puts a light blue box around verses it recommends for memorization or meditation. It has an introduction to each book with the facts such as who wrote it, when it was written, etc. It is also in the NIV 2010/11 translation.

NIrV, Faith Builders Bible, Hardcover
  Ok, this is a winner. You know your boys are going to flip through this and be proud to own it because it has lego pictures in it. It doesn’t even feature that much. It could have been even more lego themed, but the mere fact that the front cover has legos on it will make boys want it. It’s geared at younger kids – it is the NIrV translation – the New International Readers Version, from 2014. It’s not a literal translation, but a simplifying of the NIV – which is a literal translation. The special features are inserts with very short simple devotions but half of the page it a picture of the featured Bible Story – a picture shown by lego mini figures. Instead of calling their memory verses, memory verses, they use the term “Build Block Verse”. It is careful to not use the word lego anywhere as “lego” is a copyrighted term. Instead it just calls them “building blocks” but to the kids, it’s just legos.

NIV, Bible for Teen Girls, Imitation Leather, Blue: Growing in Faith, Hope, and Love

Well, the name kind of reveals most of what you need to know – the translation, the target gender and the target age. It’s actually designed in such a way that teens would be embarrassed to use it as an adult. The cover is just pretty, not too “current pop culture”. The book introductions include the basic facts and then a few paragraphs summarizing and showing how it fits in with the rest of the Bible. There are inserts with devotions from a number of different authors, some of whom are well-known names. There is a very thorough index in the back – I wish my Bible had as big of one as this! It also includes inserts on “Character Profiles of Women of the Bible”.

Hebrews 4:12 - For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 

Thank you to the publishers for sending me a free review copy of 4 of these in exchange for my honest opinion! I can’t wait to find some kids this summer who need a Bible of their own and give one to them!

Inspiring Words: 30 Verses from the Bible You Can Color

2015. The year a new craze came out. Everyone instantly jumped on board and started doing the same thing. Comic books. Cartoons. Profanity. And publishers of Bibles. What on earth do all of these have in common? Adult coloring books. Yep. You read that right. Adults need more entertainment, more chances to relax. So we have released coloring books for adults. You can color in anything you want. They’re all about the same size as a normal coloring book. They’re often more detailed, complex drawings than the average children’s coloring book. And the content matter is that which appeals to adults. 

As mentioned above, the Christian Publishing Companies have jumped on board with this idea too. So we have Inspiring Words: 30 Verses from the Bible You Can Color. It’s beautiful… or at least it will be once it’s colored :-D  And while I question whether or not adults need to focus on more pursuit of entertainment and pleasure, I’m glad Zondervan is publishing this.

 If adults are going to focus their time on coloring, then let’s take advantage of that and use it as another way to get God’s Word into their lives. You’re not coloring nice ideas, or quotes from the latest bestseller. You’re literally coloring Scripture. The translation is the newest NIV – 2010/11 translation. (For information on translations, click here:

I would recommend this item as a gift. If you know someone who is into the adult coloring books, they won’t be able to resist this. Whether they want to read the Bible or not, it is clearly black and white shapes begging to be colored in. So go for it! Pick up a few of these and give them out to those friends who are snatching up the latest coloring books off the bookstore shelves! 

Joshua 1:8 – Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

 Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi
Thank you to the publishers for providing me with a free review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Story Of God's Love For You

Madeline L’Engle, author of A Wrinkle In Time, was once asked, “Why do you write for children?" Here’s her reply: “My immediate response to this question is, ‘I don't.’ ... If it's not good enough for adults, it's not good enough for children. If a book that is going to be marketed for children does not interest me, a grownup, then I am dishonoring the children for whom the book is intended, and I am dishonoring books. And words. Sometimes I answer that if I have something I want to say that is too difficult for adults to swallow, then I will write it in a book for children. This is usually good for a slightly startled laugh, but it's perfectly true. Children still haven't closed themselves off with fear of the unknown, fear of revolution, or the scramble for security. They are still familiar with the inborn vocabulary of myth. It was adults who thought that children would be afraid of the Dark Thing in Wrinkle, not children, who understand the need to see thingness, non-ness, and to fight it.”
Sally Lloyd Jones must believe that as well.
In 2007 she published a beautifully written storybook Bible for children. This storybook Bible traced the story of Jesus all through the Bible, tying things together. Whereas most storybook Bibles simply pick the most popular or most entertaining stories and feature a couple pages on them with no connection, this one actually showed young children how the Bible stories fit together. It was written as one complete story more than sporadic individual stories. 

What does that have to do with her new book,

It’s the same thing.

Yes, you read that right. A book for toddlers has been turned into a book for teens and adults. It’s just that good.

Mind blown, right? Who would take a toddler’s book and rebrand it as a teen and adult book? Sally Lloyd Jones is who! And she does a great job of it! Honestly, if you did not know this was once a toddler’s book, you would not figure that out from reading it. Just like Madeline L’Engle said – “If a book that is going to be marketed for children does not interest me, a grownup, then I am dishonoring the children for whom the book is intended, and I am dishonoring books. And words.” 

I highly highly highly recommend this book. If you’re a toddler, I recommend the Jesus Storybook Bible with the illustrations geared at toddlers. If you’re a teen or an adult wanting something that appears more cool, I recommend The Story of God’s Love For You. It’s the same story, but formatted for the appropriate age group. Go check it out. It will be the coolest Bible your toddler owns. And probably the coolest storybook you own.

Book: The Story of God’s Love For You by Sally Lloyd Jones, Zondervan, 2016
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Quality Scale: 5/5
Awesomeness Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

 Galatians 4:4-5 -But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.

Thank you so much to the publishers for providing me with a free review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion! I am so excited to own this! I’ve wanted to own a copy of The Jesus Storybook Bible for a long time! I even ordered 5 at Christmas… but gave them all away!