Category Archives: Book Review

Bible Reading with Children: Some of the Best Books

As you know, I have been pushing myself and others to read more of the Bible in 2015 than 2014. My desire to know the Scriptures was formed though my mother’s faithful practice of reading Bible stories and other devotions to me and the family from the time of her conversion when I was about two through my high school years. But what did she read to us that worked? Reading straight from the Bible to toddlers can work if you are very selective and brief in the chosen readings and want to offer A LOT of explanation, but most prefer some type of story Bible for children that summarizes key stories of the Bible. Here are a few of the books that I have used and still use with my daughter, some of which my mother used with us growing up.

The Bible in pictures for little eyes classicKenneth Taylor’s The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes is a classic. It works for toddlers and preschool aged children. On one side of the page is a large picture of a Bible scene, and on the opposing page there is a short summary of the Bible story. The sentences are short, basic, and are followed with a couple of discussion questions. I can still see many of the pictures in my mind. At right is “old” edition that I grew up with. At left is a picture of the new edition with new illustrations. I have not looked through the neThe Bible in Pictures for little eyes neww edition, but I have heard good things about it. It might be worth owning or at least inspecting both before purchasing.

My favorite book, though, and the one my mother read through to us repeatedly, and the one I have read through repeatedly with my daughter, is The Child’s Story Bible by Catherine F. Vos. I grew up on one of the old editions. The original was published in 1935. A fifth edition was published in 1984. I have studied and considered may different story BibChildrens story bibleles and have never found one that is better at summarizing Old Testament stories, teaching biblical history through the reigns of the kings, and linking everything to Christ. It is still popular because it is that good. Sure, you will quibble here and there with a few of Vos’ theological remarks and a few old-fashioned ways of putting things, but the good so far outweighs those small problems you will likely stick with the book. This is the one to read every night to your child, one story at at time, from beginning to end. When you finish the book, you will know your Bible stories better, you will probably do something else for Bible reading for a while, and then you will probably start working through this book again. It just draws you back to it. This book works with kids frA Children's Garden of Bible Storiesom about five  years old through high school.

Other helpful books that are in a series are A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories. Each one has a set of Bible stories with accompanying illustrations. I read through one with my daughter when she was in 2nd grade and was impressed with the clarity of the story summaries and the gentle applications of them. These books are published by Concordia, which is the publishing arm of the conservative Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Concordia has a reputation of publishing top-notch educational materials, and these books are no exception.

Another good story Bible that would be great to start using with a child who has outgrown The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes is The Story Bible, published by Concordia. This story Bible has 130 Bible stories, each beautifully illustrated with discussion questions, suggested activity, and a prayer. This book is highly recommended until your child is ready for more detail. Even then, the book is ESV Illus family Bibleworth keeping for use in children’s ministry at church.

 The Story Bible ConcordiaThe last good story or family Bible I will mention is the ESV Family Bible. This book has actual excerpts from the ESV text connected by the editor’s summary statements. It is quite good in content, but more than once my daughter and I were frustrated with the brevity of the stories or detail that was left out. Yet, it is well-done; it just won’t give you the big picture of the Bible’s story line like The Child’s Story Bible will. But oh, the art! The illustrations are fabulous in this book.

Why use one of these story Bibles with children? Simple: all people need to be grounded in biblical stories and their teachings, and learning these stories thoroughly as a child will produce a million spiritual benefits. Children will catch biblical allusions in literature and movies, they will grasp sermons better because they will be already familiar with the Bible, and they will build a biblical worldview. So get some of these books and read steadily, faithfully, and systematically to your kids.


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Book Review: Cambridge Pitt Minion in Brown Calf Split Leather

Before I moved to my new pastorate this month, I used up the last bit of my professional expense from my previous parish on books, of course. The spine of my everyday and preaching Bible had broken, so I was in the market for a new  Bible. This time around, I wanted a Bible with certain specifications:

  1. ESV 2011 text edition228140_w185
  2. Two column format, with cross references and concordance
  3. At least genuine leather, if not premium
  4. Thin or at least small profile to make it easy to carry, yet with text large enough and clear enough to read easily from the pulpit
  5. An above average, quality binding
  6. Bound in brown or burgundy – I’ve had black Bibles for years and needed a change
  7. Red letter text. This makes it easier to navigate the page with my eyes when preaching from the gospels.
  8. Beautiful to hold, read, etc.

My quest to find such a Bible lead me to websites where I learned about a whole new world previously unknown to me – premium Bibles. Premium Bibles are bound in quality leather, have pages made of paper of high grade, are expertly sewn together, and of course, cost more. Here and here one can learn about the grades of leathers and quality Bible publishers.

After a long quest, I ended up purchasing a Cambridge ESV Pitt Minion in brown calf split leather. In short, I am VERY impressed with this Bible and heartily recommend it. You can see my amateur (i.e. lousy) photos of it in this post, but you can see excellent photos of it in the great

Mark Bertrand’s blog.

Here are a few facts about this little Bible and why I like it and have begun using it as my main Bible for personal readi


ng, preaching, pastoral calling, etc.

  1. The dimensions of this little Bible are as follows. The cover measures 5 1/8″ wide by 7 3/8″ long. The Bible is about 13/16″ when closed. The pages are 4 1/4″ wide from the spine opening to the edge, and they are 6 7/8″ long. Thus this Bible is easy to carry, fits right in the hand when being read, and can even slip into many pockets.
  2. The font is 6.75 Lexicon font, and it appears to my eye to be somewhat in bold. Yes, that is tiny font. However, just as I read in other reviews, that fact that the ink is dark, the font is somewhat bold, and the paper is far more opaque than typical Bible paper thus minimizing ghosting or bleedthrough from the text on opposite and other pages, the text is surprisingly easy to read. Really.  Truly. Of course, those with poor eyesight may not be able to use the Pitt-Minion, but the legends are true: this tiny Bible is easy to read despite its small text size. That being said, I have had a difficult time reading this Bible from the pulpit. Because the text is small, even though it is clear, it takes a moment to focus on it and pick up a verse while preaching. But for general reading, the font clarity is adequate.
  3. The binding is brown calf split leather and the pages are smyth sewn. I love it. Calf split leather is considered a step below goatskin, which is very supple, limp, and buttery, but I like the slight stiffness of the calf split because  it keeps the pages flatter when I hold it up to read in church. That stiffness in no way hinders this Bible from lying flat, though. Right out the box it lay flat on my desk at its midpoint, and with gentle coaxing started to lay open at Genesis 1 and Revelation 22. This is a very well put together Bible. The texture of the leather feels nice to the touch and the gold stamping on the spine looks great. When you hold and use a premium Bible you do feel the difference.
  4. This Bible has gilt edges, which means that the paper edges show off their painted gold when closed and to a lesser degree when open. One reason I chose the brown calf split over the brown goatskin is that the goatskin edition has art-gilt edges. Art-gilt edges are colored red with gold paint over the red. When such a Bible is closed, the page edges look gold; when it is opened, the red shows. I think the red paper
    Gold lettering - very nice against the brown leather

    Gold lettering – very nice against the brown leather

    edges look hideous against a brown cover, but the gold looks beautiful.

  5. This Pitt Minion has two ribbons! This is great for marking passages for worship!
  6. One problem: this Bible has the 2007 text edition, not the 2011. Right now, the only Pitt Minions that have the 2011 text edition of the ESV is the one with the synthetic cover (no red letter) and the brown goatskin (art-gilt edges – yuck). I searched high and low across this great land of ours for a 2011 text edition in brown calf split leather. I even contacted Cambridge AND a bookstore in Scotland who both are to be commended for their customer service! Cambridge plans to print this edition with the 2011 text edition,but not until all copies of the 2007 text edition are sold. Eventually, I decided I did not want to wait and ordered the 2007 text edition and plan to pencil in the 2011 text changes.

Final analysis: this is a great edition of the Bible and I anticipate using it for many years. There is nothing quite like holding and using a quality Bible. It does make a difference.

Flexible binding right out of the box, yet not completely limp. Perfect for holding and reading in worship.

Flexible binding right out of the box, yet not completely limp. Perfect for holding and reading in worship.


Visual size comparison – The Pitt Minion is to the right of my black leather Classic Reference ESV

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