The Jesus Storybook Bible
By Sally Lloyd-Jones
A children’s Bible written for preteens, this accessible yet theology-rich bedtime Bible is not only one of the best ones for kids, but hits home with adults as well.
This is a Bible that your kids will enjoy just as much as you’ll enjoy reading it. Though I’m not often much of a softie, I was reduced to tears several times by the wonderful story of our God and His love for His rebellious creation.
Sally Lloyd-Jones is a gifted writer with the right touch of sensitivity towards her audience as well as the right mix of doctrine in her storytelling. It never gets too corny. The illustrations capture the approximate feel of the people and environment in biblical times. And the major events — Noah’s flood, Moses and the Red Sea, David versus Goliath, Jonah versus the fish, the life of Jesus — are captured with the right spectacle and aplomb.
The author thanks Timothy Keller upfront and much of his theology sweeps the pages, with each Old Testament narrative pointing towards the impending arrival of Jesus. Each OT story ends with a cliffhanger, each building God’s rescue plan about a better Noah/Moses/Jonah and reiterating how much God loves His people.
This is an absolutely vital way to convey the importance of the Old Testament to both children and adults, showing how each story is ultimately tied to Jesus. While some would argue this can create an “unnatural reading” of the text, Jesus also used the OT to point to himself as well. It also creates an excitement in reading the OT so that we might be inspired to read it for ourselves.
When it finally comes to the New Testament, it feels like the climax that it’s meant to be, with the arrival of baby Jesus to his confrontation with the Pharisees to his healing and feeding of the people. The crucifixion is tastefully portrayed for youth, while the Resurrection is vivid and encouraging.
The illustrations are sufficiently colorful, with a hint of abstraction and artsy sloppiness that does not distract from the storytelling. At the cost of sounding ethnocentric, I appreciated that the people did not look like stereotypical blonde Anglo-Saxons but were dark, olive-skinned people perhaps closer to the historical figures.
I’ve been reading this Bible out loud to a children’s service in my church, and I’ve noticed that after a page or two, a hushed quiet comes over the children. There’s an oral quality to the writing that captivates the younger crowd, and I found myself moved as I was reading. When I finish with the story, it always feels like the children want to hear more. This is not true of many children’s Bibles, so for that alone I highly recommend it.
As with any children’s Bible, there are always parts omitted and stories left on the cutting floor. The adult life of David is severely reduced to a few psalms, while much of the women of the Bible are neglected. Many of the deaths are skimmed over or ignored, and while I understand this sentiment, the author could have found some creative ways to talk about this inevitable subject.
Some might also disagree with the way the Old Testament is portrayed since the focus is so Christological. It can at times overly stretch certain symbols and metaphors, but I also recognize the Christology is essential in a proper Christian interpretation of the OT. Sally Lloyd-Jones does succeed in making the connections as easy as possible.
Get this Bible, for both you and your children. You will find yourself moved again by the writing and the heart of our God for His people. We can only hope for sequels that focus on individual stories of the Bible.