You know how I love books. Maybe you don’t know how I love children’s books. I could get lost in the children’s section at Barnes and Noble for hours on end. Maybe it goes back to my lifelong love of stories. Or my Reading Specialist background. But now I have grandchildren, so I have a great excuse to disappear for hours into children’s stories.
But here’s a book that is absolutely wonderful for both kids and parents (and grandparents). And if you don’t have kids at home or grandchildren, borrow a neighbor kid or niece or nephew and read it to them. Or, do what I do when no grandchildren are around and just sit on the couch and read it all by yourself! Preferably out loud, because the writing is so beautiful.
It’s a Bible story book, which makes it even better: The Jesus Storybook Bible, written by Sally Lloyd-Jones, a best-selling children’s author. And you can tell she is the best kind of children’s author, because the writing is captivating for both children and adults.
The stories sing. They are very creatively told in language kids understand. Some of them are actually funny. The author obviously has a sense of humor—and so, I believe, does our God, author of THE STORY. And they have engaging titles like “The Scary Sleepover” (Daniel in the Lions’ Den), “The Man Who didn’t Have Any Friends[None]” (Zaccheus), and “Operation No More Tears” (Isaiah).
Best of all, the underlying theology is sound. The author attends Dr. Timothy Keller’s church (Redeemer Presbyterian) in New York City. I know this because she gives him credit right at the beginning. I wasn’t at all surprised to learn this because the grace-filled Gospel he preaches informs every page of the book. (BTW, look for his name to surface in more book recommendations to come—I’m currently reading two Tim Keller books.)
The theme of the entire book is captured in the title—The Jesus Storybook Bible—and in the subtitle: Every Story Whispers His Name. The Bible is shown to be the story of God’s Great Rescue plan in sending Jesus. The drama is all about God’s “Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love,” as Jones often reiterates. It reminds me of Philip Yancey’s profound observation: “. . . the Bible from Genesis 3 to Revelation 22 tells the story of a God reckless with desire to get His family back.” (The Jesus I Never Knew, p. 268)
What better time to begin telling that story than when our kids are young? I read somewhere that this book is recommended for children ages 4-7, but I’d give it a far broader range. My 3-year-old grandson is mesmerized by it, my son uses it with high school kids in Young Life, and parents tell me they love reading it with their kids. Grandparents, you’ll love it as well!
It makes a great gift. I wish I could give it to every woman in Mom to Mom. I’d love to see them all reading it with their children—and giving Dad a turn, too! It’s such a compelling way to introduce the great themes of God’s Word. I did give it to two neighbor families for Christmas—a start.
It’s available pretty much everywhere—online or in bookstores. Treat yourself to the “Deluxe Version” which comes with the complete book on audio CD’s, and you’ll love it even more. The stories are read by British actor David Suchet (“Hercule Poirot” in the Agatha Christie mysteries on PBS). You really need to hear him as the voice of the serpent in the Garden, Daniel’s conniving friends—and the voice of God at creation! When we first got the CD’s, Woody and I found ourselves fighting over who got to have them in which car!
And oh, how could I forget the illustrations? Recently Bjorn and Abby were telling me how Soren (he’s 3) sat on his dad’s lap during a meeting they were holding at their house and paged through nearly the entire Jesus Storybook by himself. This made me go back and look at the illustrations (by Jago, an award-winning illustrator) and realize anew how compelling they are.
I know I’m kind of over-the-top in this recommendation. I warned you how obsessed I am with stories…
BTW, just in case any of you are wondering (as I was) if the author is related to the great preacher/commentator Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones, I googled her and found out—to my surprise—that she is not. But I think she should be!