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Recommended Resources to Support Children’s Bible Literacy

October 24, 2010

An annotated list by Joan Koelle Snipes (2/08, rev. 10/10)

BIBLE PICTURE AND STORY BOOKS

Those of you who teach Sunday School know that it isn’t really possible to thoroughly cover all the stories in the Bible with just an hour a week in class. Parents and grandparents need to help children learn the stories at home. One way to do this is to have some nice picture books containing Bible stories. Although you can find these types of books at the library, many also like to buy them for gifts.

Below is an annotated list of Bible picture books and story books that I recommend for families. The list is simply a sampling of many that are available, either in new or used bookstores.   I have posted over 35 online reviews of Bible-related books on amazon.com.

Perhaps you know of some additional children’s picture books telling Bible stories that might be of interest to my e-newsletter subscribers and other workshop attendees. If so, I hope you’ll call or email me with their titles and authors. I am interested in your favorites, even if they are out of print.

Armstrong, Carole. Women of the Bible: With Paintings from the Great Art Museums of the World. New York: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1998. Armstrong’s book includes paintings of about twenty different women of the Bible by eighteen different artists. This interesting and appealing book is appropriate for older children. The paintings require much explanation.

Asimov, Isaac. Animals of the Bible. Illustrated by Howard Berelson. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1978. This is a reference book appropriate for children of any age. Great text, wonderful illustrations, and helpful reminders about where in the Bible these animals are mentioned. I found this book at our local library.

Auld, Mary. Jacob and Esau, Danbury, CT: Franklin Watt, 2003. Written for children aged 4-8 years, the story of Jacob and Esau is told in a straight-forward and appealing manner in about 25 pages. This story from Genesis is important and foundational for an understanding of the Bible. The author balances telling details of the various episodes in these twin brothers’ lives and giving a succinct overview of their stories.  The color illustrations by Diana Mayo are very good and somewhat formal (not cartoon-like.)  Although this is one of eight titles of Bible picture books by Auld, it is the only one in the series I recommend.  Out of print.

Beebe, Mary Jo; Olene E. Carroll; Nancy H. Fischer. Jesus’ Healings, Parts 1, 2 and 3. Illustrated by Genevieve Meek. Boston, MA:, Christian Science Publishing Society, 2002. These three books retell thirty of Jesus’ healings of individuals and contain much interesting background information.  Available in Christian Science Reading Rooms.

Beebe, Mary Jo; Olene E. Carroll; Nancy H. Fischer. New Testament Healings: Peter, Paul, and Friends. Boston, MA:, Christian Science Publishing Society, 2003. Thirteen accounts of healing, including those accomplished by Stephen, Philip, Ananias, and Barnabas. On the inside cover is a helpful map designating places where healings were documented.  Designed to match the Jesus’ Healings set.

Berg, Jean Horton. “The Bible in Story and Song” series. Boston: The Christian Science Publishing Society, 1973. Noah and the Ark, Joseph and his Brothers, Moses — Leader and Lawgiver, The Story of Ruth, Daniel in the Lions’ Den, Nehemiah Builds the Wall, The Story of Jesus, The Good Samaritan, The Story of Peter. An outstanding series of nine children’s Bible stories retold by Jean Horton Berg.  For many years this series was available in Reading Rooms, first with records, then with cassette tapes, and finally as videos. The Publishing Society also issued a musical tape with 26 Bible songs written and performed to go with these books.  (Songs about the Bible for Children, 1993.)   Noah and the Ark, The Good Samaritan, and Daniel in the Lions’ Den are the three best ones for younger children. Peter and Jesus are for older children (probably over age 6.)

Buck, Nola and Felicia Bond.  Christmas in the Manger.  HarperFestival, 1998. This is an excellent choice for a simple picture book for very young children.  This board book has nice illustrations and easy to understand text.  It begins:  “I am the star that shines in the east, I light the stable for man and beast.”  Subsequent pages introduce the donkey, the ram, the ox, the shepherds, the wise men, Mary, and baby Jesus.  I recommend this book for children two and under.  It makes a great first Christmas present.

Buck, Pearl S. The Story Bible. Bartholomew House, Ltd., 1971.  Stories from both the Old and New Testament are retold in a straightforward and engaging style.  No illustrations.  This book has been reissued several times since its original publication.  An example is a 1997 edition published by Random House Value.  Out of print, but available used.

Egermeier, Elsie E. Bible Picture ABC Book. Anderson, Indiana: Warner Press, 1947. Nice rhymes and full color plate lithographs. Out of print but available online from used bookstores. I found a copy at the library.

Egermeier, Elsie.  Egermeier’s Bible Story Book, Anderson, Indiana: The Warner Press, 1969. This book has been reprinted numerous times from 1922 to the present. The stories (over 300 of them) are well told, and the book includes illustrations.  For sample stories, see BibleWise.com which regularly features excerpts in their Kids Korner.  It’s fun to compare this book to similar ones by Hurlbut and Buck.  Egermeier is popular because her text is simplified but not “dumbed down.”  Some editions include questions.  In print.

French, Fiona. Easter: With Words from the King James Bible. HarperCollinsPublishers, 2002. The stained-glass like illustrations and the King James text make this picture book appropriately sacred. Although the story is told briefly, many key details are nonetheless included. For example, the text mentions the last supper, doubting Thomas, and several of Christ Jesus’ appearances after the resurrection, including the morning meal at the sea of Tiberias. This book is an excellent choice for parents and grandparents who want to be sure their children are biblically literate.

Goldthwaite, Howard. The Little Lost Lamb: A Bible Board Book. Illustrated by Lane Yerkes. Otten-heimer Publishers, 1994. This is a short book written in charming rhymes, for ages 2 to 8 years. It begins: “The people listened as Jesus told, Of a shepherd who had a 100-sheep fold, When he counted them all, he saw one lamb was lost. I’ll just have to find it, no matter the cost.”

Halperin, Wendy Anderson.  Love Is… Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing, 2001. An adaptation of I Corinthians 13 by the apostle Paul.  Contains very detailed illustrations.

Hastings, Selina. The Children’s Illustrated Bible. Illustrated by Eric Thomas and Amy Burch.  London: Dorling Kindersley, 1994. Beautifully designed with wonderful photographs. This book is appealing and the stories are generally well told.  Most stories are presented in a two-page spread.  Occasionally the illustrations are too graphic, as with the one of Daniel in the lions’ den.  Nonetheless, I recommend reading this book aloud to children from ages 5 to 10 years.

Hurlbut, Jesse Lyman. Hurlbut’s Story of the Bible for Young and Old:  A Continuous Narrative of the Scriptures Told in One hundred sixty-eight Stories.  Illustrated by Steele Savage. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1968. This is not a picture book, but it is an excellent classic. The text in this particular edition, which I borrowed from our local library, is over 700 pages. Rev. Hurlbut’s lifework was telling and then writing Bible stories in a compelling, accurate way.  The fact that his work has sold over four million copies and endured decade after decade is a testimony to the timelessness of his retelling. The earliest edition is 1904!  Hurlbut’s books may be purchased new or used. Pronunciation marks, a very helpful feature, are used throughout. See glowing reviews for various editions (with varying titles) on amazon.com. I highly recommend this book for parents who want to better learn the stories themselves. To read sample stories from this book online, go to BibleWise.com.

Hurlbut, Jesse Lyman.  Complete Book of Bible Stories.  Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002. A great choice.  This hardback edition of the book described above is 464 pages long.

Hutton, Warwick.  Moses in the Bulrushes.  New York: Atheneum, 1986.  Out of print. This is a truly wonderful book. It is worth tracking down in a used bookstore.  Splendid illustrations and text. Appropriate for both young and older children.

Johnson, Nancy P. 95 Animals of the Bible. Illustrated by Lloyd R. Hight. Green Forest, Arkansas: Master Books, Inc., 1997. What a colorful, delightful book this is. The first page delves into the adder. Psalm 58:4 notes, in regard to the wicked: “Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear.”  One of the last animals featured in the book is “wolf.” Johnson explains that shepherds feared wolves because they would attack and kill sheep for food. A sample quote is from Luke 10:3: “Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.” The context is where Christ Jesus sent forth seventy disciples, “two and two.” In the pages in-between, you’ll learn about beetles, chameleons, eagles, lizards, peacocks, snails, weasels, and many other animals. Although this book is intended for children, I think any Bible lover would enjoy it and learn much by reading it. The illustrations are excellent, and the book’s design is wonderful. Each page features one animal, with a Bible quote from the King James Version, a drawing, and an explanation. I highly recommend this book.

Lindbergh, Reeve.  On Morning Wings.  Illustrated by Holly Meade.  Candlewick Press, 2002. An adaptation of Psalm 139 for ages 4 to 8.  The author is the youngest daughter of Charles and Anne Lindbergh.

Ludwig, Warren. Old Noah’s Elephants: An Israeli folktale. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1991. Although this folktale is not from the Bible, it is a lighthearted look at life inside the ark.  Appealing illustrations.

Miner, Julia.  The Shepherd’s Song:  the Twenty-Third Psalm.  New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 1993. This book received excellent reviews when first published.  From Horn Book: “The King James Version of the favorite psalm is paired with illustrations of a sheepherding family hard at work in a modern-day Greek setting. The action portrayed in the pastel artwork will help make the words meaningful to young readers, and a note by the illustrator comments on shepherds and provides information on David, the psalmist.”

Petersham, Maud and Miska. The Christ Child: A reverent picture book of the greatest and best-loved story in the world. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., 1931. A lovely, classic book with topflight reviews. Uses only the King James Version text.

Ray, Jane. The Story of the Creation. New York: Dutton Children’s Books, 1992. This unusual book pairs verses from the first chapter of Genesis (King James Version) with folk-art style illustrations.

Spier, Peter. Book of Jonah. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1985. This book is very well done. I highly recommend it. Very detailed drawings.

Stories From the Bible. Illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger. A Michael Neugebauer Book, New York: North-South Books, 2000. This is a beautifully designed, elegant art book with unusual, thoughtful illustrations. It is a wonderful collection of King James Bible passages for parents to read aloud to their children. I love the publisher’s expectation that children CAN understand and enjoy the King James language. The excerpts are mainly from Genesis, Exodus, Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah, the four Gospels, Acts and Revelation. It makes a terrific addition to a child’s collection of top-notch Bible books.

Stories From the Old Testament: With Masterwork Paintings Inspired by the Stories.  New York: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1996. The paintings in this book are by Raphael, Tintoretto, Cranach, Bruegel, Poussin, Tiepolo, Giorgione, Mantegna, Rosselli, Rubens and other artists.  It’s an interesting book, but not an outstanding one. The paintings are sometimes graphic (David carrying the severed head of Goliath) and often require much explanation (Isaac looks more like a modern day girl with his long hair and dress-like robe.) My favorite painting in the book is Belshazzar’s Feast by Rembrandt. The text is from the King James Version of the Bible. Not appropriate for very young children.

To Everything There is a Season, illustrated by Jude Daly. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, Grand Rapids: 2006.  The first eight verses of the third chapter of Ecclesiastes constitute the text of this lovely picture book. This is a book to look at carefully, to think about, and to discuss.  The words are from the poetic King James Version of the Bible, and Jude Daly’s scenes of life on a seaside farm are gentle. For example, the illustration for “a time of war” is simply a field of crosses. It is part of a two-page spread and paired with the phrase “and a time of peace.” The larger illustration features a wonderful, long rainbow that family members admire. Although aimed at young children, all ages will enjoy thinking about this Bible passage and looking at the illustrations by this South African artist.

Tudor, Tasha. The Lord Is My Shepherd: The Twenty-third Psalm. New York: Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, 1980. This is a lovely, traditional paperback that I highly recommend. The words are from the King James Version of the Bible. The illustrations are sweet and include children, animals, pastoral scenes, churches, and villages.

Wildsmith, Brian. Exodus. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 1999. Fabulous illustrations.  Pages are bordered in gold. Superior Horn Book review.  For ages 4-8.

Wildsmith, Brian. Joseph. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 1997. This is a gorgeous book. The artwork is magnificent. For ages 4-8.

Wilner, Isabel.  B is for Bethlehem: A Christmas Alphabet.  Puffin Books, 1995. Rhyming couplets and brightly colored folk-art illustrations.  A fun addition to a family’s collection of Christmas books.  Especially good for ages 4 to 8, but all ages will enjoy.

AUDIOCASSETTE

Krueger, Caryl, Teaching Bible Stories to Children. Belleridge Press, 2003.  You can order this helpful tape online at www.BibleWise.com.  Caryl published a series of very fine Bible tapes and CDs.

BOOKLETS ON BIBLE TOPICS

Snipes, Joan Koelle.  Exploring the Bible: Essays, Worksheets and Resources, Vols. 1 and 2. Shepherdstown, WV: Bible Teaching Press, 2003.  Volume 1 includes biblical promises, geography, anointing, priests, prophets, imagery in the Psalms, angels, tear bottles, book reviews, and Bible worksheets.  Volume 2 includes Jesus’ reliance on the Hebrew Scriptures, Amos’s plumbline, archaeology, mountains, biblical literacy, gift ideas, and the epistle by James.  In addition to the essays, both booklets include book reviews.

BOOKS ON THE BIBLE

Meyers, Carol, ed.; Toni Craven; Ross Shepard Kraemer. Women in Scripture:  A Dictionary of Named and Unnamed Women in the Hebrew Bible, The Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books, and the New Testament. New York:  Houghton Mifflin Co., 2000.  This is an excellent choice for a reference book to replace the 1955 classic by Edith Deen

Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts.  Nashville:  Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1996.  This book includes reproducible maps and charts that are very helpful when tackling complex material.  No index and no bibliography, however.

Schippe, Cullen and Chuch Stetson, Editors. The Bible and Its Influence. Fairfax, Virginia: Bible Literacy Project, 2006. This wonderful textbook, intended for use by high school students, contains much background information on the Bible. These details not only give the stories of the Bible context but also show their relevance to today. I have been a student of the Bible all my life, yet I learned new things reading this book. The examples of biblical art and the sidebars on cultural connections are especially interesting. For those who teach teens in Sunday School, this 388-page book is a very helpful guide.

Snipes, Joan Koelle. That Ye May Teach the Children. Shepherdstown, WV: Bible Teaching Press, 2001.  Written for Sunday School teachers, parents, and grandparents, this book shares ideas on how to convey to children the major stories, themes, and truths contained in the Bible.  It serves serves as a hands-on aid to those teaching the Bible by providing an outline of the key stories and passages in the Bible, from Genesis through Revelation, and supplying sample questions for use with children of all ages.

Williams, Michael E., Editor. The Storytellers Companion to the Bible. Series has at least thirteen volumes of Bible commentary and narratives by different authors demonstrating how to retell the stories of the Bible more effectively. Volumes include:  Genesis, Old Testament Women, New Testament Women, Acts of the Apostles, Old Testament Wisdom, Judges-Kings, The Prophets. Published by Abingdon Press in Nashville beginning in 1991.  Although I have only read part of one volume at a library, I think these could be very valuable guides for those desiring specific examples of how to tell stories in interesting new ways.

COMMANDMENT AND BEATITUDE CARDS

Ten Commandments Cards and The Beatitude Cards, Mary Jo Beebe, Christian Science Publishing Society, 2001.

DVD OR VIDEO

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, 1999. A DVD (also VHS and CD) available from http://www.amazon.com.  This delightful musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber tells the story of Joseph and the coat of many colors in a clever and fun way, with energetic acting and singing.  Donny Osmond plays the role of Joseph.  Because of the scene with Potiphar’s wife and some risqué costumes, this movie is not appropriate for very young children.  Parents might opt to tell this story and simply buy the CD.

EMAIL ON BIBLE CHARACTERS

To receive a free weekly email about Bible Characters, you can contact Norman Wood at WoodCN@aol.com His weekly work is also posted online at www.CSDirectory.com.

GAMES

Bibleopoly, a very popular game for two to six players ages eight and up, takes about an hour to play.  It is available from the publisher’s website, http://www.lateforthesky.com.

Bible Baffle, a game for 2 to 12 players for ages 13 and up.  It includes 3360 questions. Published by Talicor, Inc. in Las Vegas, NV.

LAMB

A 16” inch fleece lamb by Lil Lampkin that plays the hymn, Feed My Sheep, is available from the Principia bookstore or the Longyear bookstore.  Very cute and huggable.  See http://www.prin.edu.

POSTERS

The Bible’s Family Tree posters sold at http://www.infinitediscovery.com.  Two colorful posters, 17” x 22”, designed by Frank Richter with worksheets by Kristy Christian and Kathy Merrill.

TIME-LINE

Bible Time-Line, General Publications Bible Products, 2001.  Three parts with 33 cards. Available at Christian Science Reading Rooms.  An excellent teaching tool.

WEB PAGES

www.bibleliteracy.org to learn more about the non-partisan, nonprofit group working to encourage and facilitate the academic study of the Bible in public schools. Includes information on the high school textbook by Cullen Schippe.

www.BibleWise.com, an outstanding site for solid Bible information, illustrations to color, stories to read.  For teens, children, parents, Sunday School teachers and Bible lovers.

www.biblicalvoices.com for Alex Cavalli performances on Paul and the Gospel of John.

www.ministryserver.com/bible/lectures/5003.htm for a printable 11 page harmony of the Gospels.

www.Shadwoldpress.com for Berenice Shotwell’s e-book, Getting Better Acquainted with Your Bible.

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