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Kids’ Bibles Worth Giving

Mixed Media

Do you remember your favorite childhood picture book? Most of us can point to at least one story, whether it was a fairy tale or a Dr. Seuss yarn, that nestled into our imaginations when we were little.

Recently I flipped through a stack of best-selling children’s Bibles, wondering if any of them would have that effect on kids. I was struck by how alike they were. The Bible characters had googly eyes and goofy grins. They didn’t look remotely capable of heroic deeds like killing a giant, or dastardly deeds like dropping their brother down a well. They were comic-strip characters. And the words that recorded their thoughts and actions seemed like caricatures too. The stories were there, but the power, drama, and mystery of the Bible had gone missing.

That set me on a quest for children’s Bibles that had kid-appeal, imaginative but sensitive illustrations, and respect for the wonderful literary qualities of God’s Word. It took a bit of sleuthing (and a little special-ordering) but I found some children’s Bibles that would make wonderful gifts for the kids and families in your life. I know there are others out there, and I can’t wait to find them!

The Bible for Children

(Good Books, 2002)

Containing more than 200 stories, this book offers an excellent overview of the Old and New Testaments. Colorful, unique illustrations support a sensitive paraphrase that’s great for family devotions. Intriguing page borders add a creative touch.

A Family Treasury of Bible Stories

(Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1997)

This book’s richly detailed illustrations take inspiration from icon paintings and classic art. At first I thought it might be too grown-up-looking for kids, but it was my 6-year-old daughter’s first pick. It’s a real feast for the eyes.

The Reader’s Digest Bible for Children

(Reader’s Digest Young Families, 1995)

A quality children’s Bible from the bastion of literary brevity? It’s true! This gem’s brief but poetic text is perfect for younger kids, but family members of all ages will love the insightful and expressive illustrations (check out the Israelites passing nervously between towering walls of water on page 67). 

The Lowdown

Other Gift-Worthy Books for Kids

Tails, by Matthew Van Fleet

Colorful, tactile board book fun! (Red Wagon Books)

The Complete Adventures of Curious George Deluxe Book and CD set
All seven original George stories, plus five audio CDs (Houghton Mifflin)

The Harper Collins Treasury of Picture Book Classics

Twelve favorite stories (Goodnight Moon, Harold and the Purple Crayon) for kids ages 4 and up (HarperCollins)

Look-Alikes Around the World, by Joan Steiner

Forty famous landmarks and locations built from everyday objects. The more you look, the more you see! (Little, Brown Young Readers)

Under the Tuned In Tree

reviewed by Otto Selles

Only a year old, Ruminate is establishing itself as one of the finest Christian magazines dedicated to the ties between faith, art, and literature. Produced in Fort Collins, Colo., the magazine blends reproductions of paintings and photographs with poems and short stories through a classy design. Ruminate would be an excellent addition to church libraries or the perfect present for a friend or family member with an interest in the arts. Writers’ groups and book clubs may also take advantage of group subscription rates. (


by Sandra Dallas
reviewed by Sonya VanderVeen Feddema

When the government opens an internment camp in Ellis, Colo., for Japanese-Americans during World War II, 13-year-old Rennie Stroud is confronted with the reality of war. After Rennie’s friend is murdered, townspeople blame the outsiders. As the Strouds struggle to practice justice in a climate riddled with injustices, Rennie realizes that the world, including Ellis, is a dangerous place. Tallgrass, which contains some profanity, is a unique blend of historical fiction, mystery thriller, and exploration of the destructive impact of prejudice. (St. Martin’s)

Words to Live By: A Guide for the Merely Christian

by C. S. Lewis, edited by Paul F. Ford
reviewed by Sonya VanderVeen Feddema

Covering topics alphabetically—from Almsgiving to Zeal—Words to Live By makes C. S. Lewis’s vast collection of works accessible to readers both familiar and unfamiliar with his writing. His poetry, fiction, essays, and letters reveal the mind of one of the 20th century’s most important Christian intellectuals. Lewis’s insights, which celebrate the all-encompassing impact of the gospel, are as fresh and stimulating today as when they were first written. (HarperCollins)

The Ultimate Gift

reviewed by Ron DeBoer

Reportedly James Garner’s final movie, The Ultimate Gift is the journey of a young man who learns that the real meaning of life is not preceded by dollar signs. Red Stevens (Garner) is the billionaire patriarch of a dysfunctional family. When he dies, he leaves relatively little to his three children, but he leaves a video will with instructions for his spoiled brat grandson, Jason. Red sets Jason on a journey to achieve several gifts on his way to achieving the “ultimate gift.” Although at times predictable, both my youngest (9) and oldest (18) loved this squeaky-clean family film. (20th Century Fox)


by Great Lake Swimmers
reviewed by Michael Buma

Ongiara, the third album from the Great Lake Swimmers, continues to refine their quiescent blend of roots, folk, pop, and country. Tremulous, evocative, and subtly rooted in the Southwestern Ontario landscape, Ongiara moves lithely from sadness to searching to surrender to magical awakening. Their most finely crafted album to date, Ongiara emphasizes the Great Lake Swimmers’ talent for songwriting, soothing vocals, and wistfully complementary melodies. (Nettwerk Records)

The Chronicles of Narnia

by Focus on the Family Radio Theatre
reviewed by Sandy Swartzentruber

Know anyone who takes car trips with kids? Do them a huge favor: buy them C.S. Lewis’s seven Narnia books on CD. A full cast of British actors and an original orchestral score come together in an excellent production that appeals to kids and adults of all ages. This 19-CD set can turn a tedious drive into low-stress quiet time. As any parent will tell you, it just doesn’t get any better than that. (Focus on the Family)

The Maytrees

by Annie Dillard
reviewed by Sonya VanderVeen Feddema

Lou Bigelow and Toby Maytree see their marriage as unique amongst the many others in their Provincetown, Mass., community. When their son Petie is born, their friend Deary helps care for him. But trust between the adults and child is destroyed when promises are broken. Can rifts so deeply entrenched be bridged? In Dillard’s novel they are, as grace unexpectedly gains the upper hand. Exploring the complexities of love, betrayal, and forgiveness, The Maytrees tells what seems to be a simple story in a profound and thought-provoking way. (HarperCollins)

These Our Hymns

by The Riverton Singers
reviewed by Randy Engle

I’ve not been able to take this CD out of my car for the past three months. Each of these 24 hymns is sensitively and beautifully rendered with excellent accompaniments, or simply sung without. The singing is flawless and perfectly nuanced to fit the particular style of each hymn. The Singers’ rendition of “When Peace like a River” is definitive. But in the end it is not the music but the message that stays with the listener, and that is something to sing about. (

The Reformed Handbook

reviewed by Sandy Swartzentruber

Ever wonder why Reformed people are the way they are? The Reformed Handbook is a tongue-in-cheek user’s manual that answers all your questions and then some. Learn about “Everyday Stuff” like the top 10 attributes to look for in a spouse, “Church Stuff” like what to bring to a potluck, and “Bible Stuff” like the seven funniest Bible stories. But be careful—there’s lots of genuine information here, so while you’re laughing you just might learn something! (Faith Alive)

Here’s A Little Poem

collected by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters
reviewed by Otto Selles

This collection provides an excellent introduction to poetry for kids. As the title suggests, the poems are never too long and often use humor to hold a young reader’s attention. The book presents approachable works by well-known poets (Langston Hughes, A.A. Milne) and classic authors (Robert Louis Stevenson, Margaret Wise Brown), as well as contemporary writers (Nikki Grimes, Jack Prelutsky). The book is delightfully illustrated and will attract readers of all ages. (Candlewick)

Christmas CDs for the Young Adult on Your List
(or the Young at Heart)

Christmas Songs by Jars of Clay—innovative rockers bring together classics, hidden gems, and original material to their Christmas album. (Nettwerk)

Let It Snow, Baby . . . Let It Reindeer by Relient K—this popular Christian punk band promises a mix of sacred songs and silliness. (Gotee)

Christmas . . . from the Realms of Glory by Bebo Norman—the first Christmas album from the folk/pop star. (CMJ)

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