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Michigan Third-Graders Help with Bible Translation


New Bible translations commonly require much time, expertise, and a committee of scholars. One recent translation update required an additional and unusual resource—a classroom of third-graders in Holland, Mich.

When the current fifth- and sixth-grade students at Rose Park Christian Elementary School were in the third grade, they helped a group of translators and researchers with a new edition of the NIrV (New International Reader’s Version).

Their work has now come to fruition, and the students were each recently presented with a leather-bound copy of the NIrV Adventure Bible from Zonderkidz

The translation team included Dr. Yvonne Van Ee, a child development expert and professor emerita from Calvin College. Van Ee lives near Rose Park, which is part of Holland Christian Schools, so the school was a natural choice.

The NIrV is intended for new and emerging readers as well as English-language learners. Van Ee and the translation team asked students to read certain Bible passages and give feedback and wording suggestions for easier understanding.

The goal of the NIrV is to be understandable to anyone with a third-grade reading level. Dr. Michael Williams, Professor of Old Testament at Calvin Theological Seminary and the chair of the translation team, was quoted in a school publication: “What better translation partners could we have in that effort than actual third-graders? They helped us field-test the translation and often helped us arrive at alternative ways of saying things.”

In December, Williams, Van Ee, and Annette Bourland, senior vice president from Zondervan, presented the Bibles to the students, who were each called up by name.

The students were extremely excited to see the finished product, said principal Rod Brandsen. “I could see it in their faces that this was something special.”

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