Best First Bibles for Children—Our Top Picks Chart
There you stand, trembling like an Israelite at the Red Sea, bewildered by the waves of bookshelves filled with every possible size, shape and type of children’s Bible. You have to choose just the right one because, after all, it IS the Word of God, and isn’t it the most important first book you will ever purchase for your child? But which one? How do you choose? Are some better than others? Are there criteria you should be thinking about? What if you choose the wrong one?
Not to worry. Take a step into the water and walk with us through the dry sea floor. We have some tips and our own picks. Whether or not you choose any of our top picks, you’ll have a better sense of what to look for and what to avoid.
First, bibles for children three and younger are not really Bibles at all. They’re really story books, so if that is your children’s age group, just choose one that will hold their attention (although I have a recommendation in the chart for them, too). They usually have few words, simple sentence structure, frequent page turning, and colorful animated artwork. They are the ones your children will want to read over and over but will quickly outgrow.
The choice becomes more important, however, when your children reach ages 3-5, when their attention spans value short groups of sentences more than the action of page turning. But what may look great while standing there at the Red Sea may not measure up to your expectation later, unless you predetermine what’s most important. Here are the criteria I chose and why:
- How comprehensive is the book? Does it contain only well-known selections, or does it include more obscure accounts? Does it include both Old and New Testaments? If you simply want to read interesting stories, this may not seem important, but if you intend it as a teaching/learning tool, or if it will be used in church classes or with specific curriculum, you will not want to be bound by content chosen for you by someone else.
- Is it true to the Scriptures, or is it embellished with unnecessary or inaccurate details? I believe that any bible for children or adults, even though it is paraphrased, should be without embellishment, added characters, or editorializing. Does it matter? Well, do you mind if someone editorializes on what you say while proclaiming you said it? I feel it is essential to maintain absolute truth, no matter the age of the child, so I place great emphasis on this criterion. Besides, the Bible is exciting enough on its own without the addition of extraneous or inaccurate details that could confuse your child later on.
- What is the interest age range? Consider the publisher’s age range, but decide for yourself. The best selections are those that hold the interest of multiple age groups in the same setting, especially for families. Many factors attract children’s attention, including bright colors, orderly pages, larger print, exciting vocabulary, and a thing called VOICE. VOICE has to do with how the writer uses words so that readers believe they are actually there, or believe that the writer is talking personally to them. Even if other qualities are present, readers’ and listeners’ interests quickly wane without effective VOICE, no matter one’s age.
- How durable is it? All of the bibles I reviewed are hardcover, but there remained some differences in the slickness and thickness of pages.
- How much consideration is given to ethnic accuracy and diversity? For too long, children’s bible publishers have errantly pictured all Bible characters as ‘white’ with ‘white’ features but slowly are beginning to more accurately reflect ethnic facial features and coloring. They still have a long way to go. I believe this type of accuracy is very important.
- Value for the cost. With all things considered, are you getting the best value for your money?
There are many more children’s bibles out there than I could ever review. However, I reviewed ten popular ones based on these six criteria I believe are important. The chart is rank ordered with my top picks listed first, and I assigned a grade within each area. None of my remarks is intended to disparage any writer or publisher, and the opinions are solely my own. If you choose different criteria, that’s okay, but predetermining what is important to you will significantly simplify your decision.
Download Bible Comparison Chart
An internet search is an easy way to see the image of each one’s book cover. Most of these bibles can be purchased more inexpensively online, but Christian bookstores will carry them, as well. Happy shopping!