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New Children’s Story Bibles Rethink How Christians Share Old Stories With Young Readers

children's bibles
A child reads a mockup of "The Book of Belonging." Photo by Daniel Ebersole

“If we want to raise followers of Jesus who wrestle with God and ask important questions and fight for justice and admit when they’re wrong and love their neighbor, we need them to see themselves in these pages mirrored back,” said Clark, a former editor of philosophy and religion books for National Geographic, in the video accompanying her Kickstarter campaign.

Publishers have also answered that need with a string of new and upcoming children’s story Bibles.

I Wonder: Exploring God’s Grand Story,” an illustrated Bible by Glenys Nellist that was published in September, not only retells 30 stories from both the Hebrew Bible and New Testament for children ages 4 to 8, but also it encourages them to engage with the stories by ending each one with a series of questions beginning “I wonder … .”

“I wonder … which part of creation God enjoyed the most,” ends the story of creation.

“I wonder… if Lydia ever imagined that her story would one day be told to others,” ends a story about the early church featuring Lydia, the first convert to Christianity in Europe.

God’s Colorful Kingdom Storybook Bible: The Story of God’s Big Diverse Family,” by Esau McCaulley, just announced for release in January 2023, will pull together stories showing God’s desire for a multi-ethnic family that cares about those the author calls the “stepped-on.”

McCaulley, the author of the award-winning book “Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope” who teaches New Testament at Wheaton College, said his book is the one he has wanted to read to his own four children, now ages 5 to 13.

“I found myself often having to reinterpret stories or edit them, or I would say things like, ‘The Bible has this vision for all of the different nations and peoples and colors of the world to be a part of God’s family,’ but then I would open up a gift book and everybody there was white,” he said.

It will be a while before his children are old enough to read “Reading While Black,” he said. In the meantime, he wants them to hear the same stories that formed him growing up in the Black church.

“God’s Colorful Kingdom Storybook Bible” will include the stories of familiar figures like David, but rather than focus on his battle with the giant Goliath, McCaulley said, his book will emphasize how God instructed Israel’s greatest king to care for the poor and needy. It also will include the stories of less-known figures, such as the Hebrew midwives who saved Moses as an infant, Simon the Cyrene and the Ethiopian eunuch.

“The question isn’t, ‘Which stories do you tell?’ it’s, ‘What gets highlighted in the stories that you tell?’ And when I was growing up, these are some of the things that were brought out,” he said.