Three years ago I stood in front of the children’s Bibles in our local Christian bookstore. I was overwhelmed. Shelf after shelf of colorful, beautifully illustrated Bibles sat before me. I knew I wanted to purchase one for two-year-old James, but how to decide which one?
Thankfully, a friend from church happened to be in the store. As we chatted I shared my dilemma. She showed me the Bible their son enjoyed when he was James’ age. I purchased it and we loved it, reading it most nights after dinner. It got a little grubby from dinner fingers, but that’s ok because he loved it. And he learned. He learned so much at a young age. Even though James is now five, he occasionally pulls this one out for fun, although he has a new favorite.
What I look for in a toddler Bible:
- Simple yet colorful, cartoon-ish illustrations — so kid-friendly that they invite a young child to read.
- Short stories written with toddler-appropriate language. I wanted each story to be 2-4 pages.
- Sound effect words (bam, dong, clip clop, etc.). Seriously, kids loves these, especially toddlers.
- Parent suggestions for additional activities.
- A full survey of Bible stories. We have other beautiful books with individual stories. However, I wanted the kids to have a book they could call their Bible with a collection of common stories from the Old and New Testament. Reference books, like a Bible, are important so kids learn the big picture timeline of history.
It’s easy to see in this example the inviting, colorful illustrations. I like how we count the stones together in the text. Sound effect words like “Whirr! Whirr!” are perfect. Each story is 2 full pages like this, and parent suggestions are included at the end.
When Jonathan turned two, we read from James’ toddler Bible. But then I realized that Jonathan may enjoy a board book more. I avoided board books for James because I wanted lots of stories, more than could fit in the thicker board book pages. However, Jonathan could more easily turn pages in a board book. So I found this one:
Again, each story was short, but filled with simple, colorful illustrations, not too artsy or so detailed that a toddler would get lost. Since this is a board book, this version has fewer stories, but the major highlights were included.
James’ current Bible was a gift, and I’m glad it was because it probably wouldn’t have been my first choice for a preschooler. Its length would have encouraged me to wait until he was older. However, it’s perfect for him now, as well as when he’s older.
Here’s why I love this for preschoolers and early readers:
- Detailed pictures open conversation for great discussion and questions.
- Short stories — 2-4 pages
- Simple sentence structure, yet recognizable phrases from the Bible.
- Excellent survey of stories from the Old and New Testament.
- Discussion questions included at the end of each story.
I included photos of each Bible’s telling of David and Goliath. The differences in artwork and sentence structure clearly indicate the appropriate audience age.
These are our three favorites so far. As the kids get older, we will continue to find Bibles that are a good fit for their reading level and interest.