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Jesus Storybook Bible Review
Illustrated Bibles for children seem to be everywhere–they range from ultra-simplified board books for toddlers, to plain-language retellings of the familiar stories for youth. The Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones, is written for ages four and up, and contains 44 Bible stories. So what is it that makes this book stand out from all the rest?
What I Love
First of all, I love the conversational tone that is used throughout this book. Sally Lloyd-Jones does not write like a passive narrator, but rather as an engaging storyteller, interacting with the children as they listen. This makes the stories fun to listen to and easy to understand for even the youngest of learners.
Secondly, I love how the Bible is introduced as a story of God’s love. Sally Lloyd-Jones makes it clear to children that the Bible is not a book of rules, or a history of heroes, but rather an adventure story about a brave Prince who leaves his throne to save all those he loves–a real-life fairy tale. Best of all, she reminds us that this story of redemption is told throughout the whole Bible, not just within a few select chapters of the New Testament.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I can only think of one Sunday school lesson, when I was a teenager, where I learned that most of the Old Testament stories showed parallels with Christ’s life and purpose. In the Jesus Storybook Bible, this is made clear from the very beginning. The story of Noah ends with the reminder that God promised to never again destroy the world’s people with a flood–instead he would rescue them. The story of the tower of Babel ends with the observation that no matter how high the people of Babel had built that tower, they never could have reached heaven on their own–they needed a Savior. And on and on it goes throughout each of the Old Testament stories.
I look forward to sharing the Jesus Storybook Bible with each of my children as they grow. The engaging, conversational tone of a master storyteller is sure to keep young minds interested, and the parallels that all point back to Christ and his Atonement are sure to keep young spirits nourished.
What I Don’t Love
The one issue I have with the Jesus Storybook Bible is how it frames the story of Adam and Eve. The events in the Garden of Eden can seem very abstract when viewed at surface value, so Sally Lloyd-Jones has added further insight and imagery, based on inferred context, to help children understand the significance of what happened. Her interpretation of Adam’s Fall is a common way to view the story, however it does not align with my beliefs.
To summarize: this version of the story states that Eve ate from the tree of knowledge because she started to doubt whether God really loved her, and the effect of the fruit was to make her think she knew everything and didn’t need God anymore; eating the fruit broke Adam and Eve’s relationship with God, and it broke God’s heart. The book implies that God had intended everything to last forever in perfection, but now the world was poisoned, and everything was going to die, and people’s hearts wouldn’t work properly anymore.
Those of you who are familiar with my blog will already know that I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. As such, I believe in a different interpretation of the events. I believe that God was not surprised or heartbroken when Adam and Eve ate the fruit–he always knew they would eventually disobey, because they were not perfect. I believe this was not only an inevitable part of his plan, but an essential one, because it was only after Adam and Eve ate the fruit that they were able to multiply and replenish the Earth.
I don’t want to teach my children that Adam and Eve introduced doubt and rebellion into the world and poisoned our hearts so that we cannot trust God. I want to teach my children that Adam and Eve are examples of how none of us are perfect enough to follow God’s commandments 100% of the time, and that is why we need Christ.
If this is the perspective you would like to teach your children, and you own a copy of the Jesus Storybook Bible, you may be interested in downloading these free inserts; I’ve created slips that can be inserted between the pages of Sally Lloyd-Jones’ book, with spaces for the beautiful illustrations to show through, to provide an alternate interpretation of the Bible story she presents. Along with a re-worded version of the Adam and Eve story, I have included a few more optional inserts that reflect my beliefs, such as a paragraph about how Christ’s Atonement can strengthen and empower us, and a slight alteration to the provided summary of Paul’s teachings on Grace. If you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, as I know some of my readers are, you can use these inserts as a teaching tool to introduce your children to the Joseph Smith Translation footnotes.
You can view the inserts here, to see if any of them provide value to your family.
Thank you to all my readers for your continued support.
Do you have a favorite illustrated children’s Bible? Please share in the comments below 🙂