Bible Material for Children

 

1.      Biblical Basis- The Bible commands parents to teach the Bible to their children diligently.

 

2 Timothy 3:15- “how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”

 

Ephesians 6:4- And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord

 

Psalm 78- Verses 1-3 refer to instruction ‘of old’ which ‘our fathers have told us,’ and v.4 then states: ‘We will not conceal them from their children, but tell to the generations to come the praises of the LORD, and His strength and His wondrous works that He has done.  For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should teach them to their children, that the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, that they may arise and tell them to their children, that they should put their confidence in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments”

 

Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 20-25- "Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!    And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.  And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.  And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates ….

When your son asks you in time to come, saying, 'What [do] the testimonies and the statutes and the judgments [mean] which the Lord our God commanded you?'  then you shall say to your son, 'We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt; and the Lord brought us from Egypt with a mighty hand.  'Moreover, the Lord showed great and distressing signs and wonders before our eyes against Egypt, Pharaoh and all his household;  and He brought us out from there in order to bring us in, to give us the land which He had sworn to our fathers.'  "So the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God for our good always and for our survival, as [it is] today.  "And it will be righteousness for us if we are careful to observe all this commandment before the Lord our God, just as He commanded us.

 

Deuteronomy 4:9-10- God spoke to the people at Sinai so that ‘they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.’

 

Genesis 18:19- ‘For I have chosen him so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what He has promised him.’

 

Sir Edmund Burke wisely observed, "Tell me what are the prevailing sentiments that occupy the minds of your young people and I will tell you what is to be the character of the next generation."

 

“It is a situation of tremendous responsibility to be a parent … With every babe that God entrusts to your care, he in effect sends the solemn injunction- ‘Take this child, and bring it up for me;’ and at the final audit, will inquire in what manner you have obeyed the command.  It will not then be sufficient to plead the strength of your affection, nor the ceaseless efforts to which it gave rise; for if these efforts were not directed at the right end … you will receive the rebuke of Him that sitteth upon the throne.”  (John Angell James, The Christian Father’s Present to His Children)

 

2.      The Importance and Value of Teaching or Children

-         The Rising Problem of Biblical Illiteracy in the church

-         Role of parents more than the Church

-         Reaching both parents and children

 

3.      The Need for Substance

Far too often our Bible material for children is embarrassingly shallow.  So much that passes as bible stories for children these days is a sham.  The great stories of scripture are turned into cute and cuddly little tales.  The result of this is that many people think of Bible stories as something for children; but, I submit to you that if you read them they most certainly were not written primarily with children in mind.  There are enough cute cuddly little stories around without domesticating Scripture to turn it into one.  Our children need to encounter the Scripture not emasculated stories.  Of course, they need not have every gory detail, but renditions of Noah and the ark which are only about nice animals and fun on a boat but fail to deal with the wrath of God against sin are perversions of the story.  Renditions of David and Goliath whose main point is that little people can do things too, simply miss the point.  If we want to raise children who have the same deep reverence for God and passion for His glory which compelled David to take on the giant, then we must give them the pure milk of the Word.

 

We are duped by those who say that children cannot handle the deep truths or the stark realities (e.g. hell).  However, the church through the ages has not thought this way.  We do not prepare our children for life by sugarcoating reality.  There is of course something to thinking about age appropriateness, but currently many seem to think the only thing appropriate to say to children until they are 12 is God loves you, you are great, etc.  How will children who hear only this ever know their desperate need for the gospel?

 

Examples:

-         Nathan on the Trinity while in Scotland

-         Nathan- “The power of God!”

-         Asking the boys, “Is Abigail sinful?”

-         Gospel for Children on Hell

-         Isaac Watts songs

-         David beheading Goliath- for my boys, these are girly stories

-          

 

 

4.      Some Recommended Resources

Family Worship

The Family Worship Book, Terry Johnson (Christian Focus)

Thoughts on Family Worship, J. W. Alexander

The Christian Father’s Present to His Children, John Angell James

Family Worship in the Bible and Your Home, Donald Whitney

Rediscovering the Lost Treasure of Family Worship, Jerry Marcellino

 

Catechism

Big Truths for Little Kids, by Susan and Richie Hunt (Crossway)

Truth & Grace Books, ed. Tom Ascol

Small Talks on Big Questions, Selah Helms and Susan Thompson

The Gospel for Children, John Leuzarder (Shepherd Press)

 

Study Bible

ESV Children’s Bible

 

Bible Stories

Ø      The Learn About God series (Christian Focus), 3-6 yrs old - God is kind, has power, never changes, knows everything, is everywhere, is faithful.  These are simple little chunky board books covering some of the attributes of God.  Each page repeats the title, gives a specific application and a related verse.

Ø       God’s Little Guidebooks, by Hazel Scrimshire (Christian Focus), 3-6 yrs old - This series of little booklets covers the 10 Commandments.  Sibling duo Sam and Katy present each commandment and explore how it can be applied to young lives.

Ø      Bible Time & Bible Wise, by Carine Mackenzie (Christian Focus), 3yrs & up – These are some of the best bible storybooks we have seen.  The stories are faithfully retold pausing at key points to make appropriate applications.  For example one story tells that Gideon was afraid when he saw the angel and here the author mentions the propriety of the fear of God.  Several of the OT stories are particularly good in how they make application to the new covenant. (note other Bible stories by Mackenzie)

Ø      Hear Me Read series, by Mary Manz Simon (Concordia Publishing House) 3-6 yrs old - There is a level 1 and a level 2 in this series and we have used level 1.  These colorful books use a minimal number of words (about 12-20) to tell basic bible stories.  They help children learn to recognize certain words and are easy for them to learn to read on their own.

Ø      My First Study Bible, by Paul Loth (Thomas Nelson), 3-6 yrs old- This is actually a collection of bible stories going through the entire bible.  It has little asides for children a bit older to fill in some more details.  The stories are faithfully told using sizeable quotations directly from Scripture.  This is a refreshing contrast to other books which add so much extra (non-biblical) detail that distracts from the actual story.  Also this book does not shy away from the issues of God's wrath against sin and even includes some lesser-known stories.  For the wisdom literature, many of the prophets and the New Testament letters where it would be difficult to actually present a story, a page is given with the prophet or author giving a summary of the book.  While one might wish they had given more on these books, at least with this format they have covered every book of Scripture.  One of the great things about this book is it allows one to read straight through the bible with your children.  Of course not everything has been covered but something from each book has been covered- which is more than many adults have ever done.  As we approached the end of the book on our first time through I began building up the fact that we were close to having read through the entire bible and our boys got really excited.  Even today they speak with excitement about having read through 'the whole bible story.'  Of course a side benefit is that the parent can begin to see connections across the whole of scripture in ways they have not before!

Ø      The Big Picture Story Bible, David Helm (Crossway), 3 yrs & up- Perhaps the best overall Bible story book I have seen.  Focuses especially on showing how the whole bible fits together, how Jesus fulfills the OT, etc.

Ø      The Picture Bible, Iva Hoth (Chariot Victor)

Ø      Discovering Jesus in Genesis & Discovering Jesus in Exodus, Susan & Richie Hunt

Ø      I Love My Bible, Debby Anderson (Crossway), 3-5 yrs- great little book on why you should love the Bible.

Ø      Herein Is Love Commentary Series, Nancy Ganz (Shepherd Press)

 

Christmas/Advent

Christ in Christmas: A Family Advent Celebration (NavPress)

The Wonders of Christmas, Melody Carlson (Crossway)

The Advent Book, Jack and Kathy Stockman (Crossway)

 

 

Other

Ø      Dangerous Journey- a nice retelling of Pilgrim’s Progress with good illustrations

Ø      The Evergreen Wood, Alan & Linda Parry- another good adaptation of Pilgrim’s Progress this time with animals as the characters.  Good for younger children.

 

 (For a more thorough discussion of these and other books for children you can visit my blog on children’s literature:

The Children’s Hour.)