Have any used “easy reader” Bibles with their kids? I think CM believed that the King James version was helpful in introducing children to beautiful language. I don’t use that version for anything in my personal walk with God, and don’t expect to use it to teach a love for God’s Word to our daughter. My primary goal is to show the “alive-ness” of God’s word, its relevance and power. So, I’ve thought about giving her a Bible that she could hopefully read from herself, but I’ve wondered if the exertion of reading (it’s still very much a skill in process) could link frustration with listening to God. I’m more than willing to continue reading aloud from the Bible, which is what we do now. Any thoughts? Thanks so much.
Very rarely as I do believe that so many childrens Bibles are dumb-downed and/or inaccurate in their writings. If I had to choose one it would be Egermeier’s Bible Story Book by Elsie E. Egermeier.LeanneMember
I have used easy reader Bibles. My favorite one I have used is the Read and Learn Bible. After an easy reader Bible, I like using Bibles with giant print. My church has been giving our new 3rd grader’s The Hands On Bible which has the New Living Translation. My daughter used and enjoyed reading it for personal devotion time.shlentineParticipant
Hi Nancy and Leanne,
While I totally understand your desire for your kids to understand and love the word of God, I came to a realization recently that changed my opinion about these easy reader bibles. My grandmother grew up knowing, understanding, and loving the KJV. She did not speak Elizabethan English anymore than I do, yet she still was still able to comprehend and “get” the word of God. Why should we think that OUR generation of children need dumbed down versions of the Bible to have a real relationship with God? By the way, I am not a KJV only person that believes that the only inspired Bible is the KJV, it is just my strong preference. Especially for memory and for tools such as word studies. Just another thought on the subject 🙂
It is true that Charlotte Mason liked the King James version as a way of introducing children to beautiful language. However, she also wrote of the impediment that archaic language can be. Here’s a quote that we used in our soon to be released early years book:
“But the little English child is thrust out in the cold by an archaic mode of address, reverent in the ears of us older people, but forbidding, we may be sure, to the child. Then, for the Lord’s Prayer, what a boon would be a truly reverent translation of it into the English of to-day! To us, who have learned to spell it out, the present form is dear, almost sacred; but we must not forget that it is after all only a translation, and is, perhaps, the most archaic piece of English in modern use: ‘which art,’ commonly rendered ‘chart,’ means nothing for a child. ‘Hallowed’ is the speech of a strange tongue to him—not much more to us; ‘trespasses’ is a semi-legal term, never likely to come into his every-day talk; and no explanation will make ‘Thy’ have the same force for him as ‘your.’ To make a child utter his prayers in a strange speech is to put up a barrier between him and his ‘Almighty Lover.’ Again, might we not venture to teach our children to say ‘Dear God’? A parent, surely, can believe that no austerely reverential style can be so sweet in the Divine Father’s ears as the appeal to ‘dear God’ for sympathy in joy and help in trouble, which flows naturally from the little child who is ‘used to God.’ Let children grow up aware of the constant, immediate, joy-giving, joy-taking Presence in the midst of them, and you may laugh at all assaults of ‘infidelity,’ which is foolishness to him who knows his God as—only far better than—he knows father or mother, wife or child” (Vol. 2, pp. 56, 57).
Sonya wrote a series of articles on giving your children the Bible that are posted on our sister site, Intentional Parents. You might like to check those out too:meaganParticipant
What we did with our family is we gave our children, when they were younger, “readers versions” of the Bible that were at a level they could read on their own. And, at bedtime, they would often pick these up and read these on their own. During our family devotion time we would read out of the NIV to all of them. At around 4th grade they were each given their own copy of the NIV Bible. I think, Leanne, if I am remembering correctly, we also used the Read and Learn Bible with our middle child. He LOVED it!
We have never used the KJV Bible in our household, and I did not grow up with it, either. I grew up with the NIV, for a brief period changed to a NKJV Bible, but have since switched back to the NIV. I think that you should use whichever Bible you feel comfortable with. If you are uncomfortable with the KJV it will show and your children will notice. In my humble opinion, God’s Word is His Word, no matter what translation you use. The most important thing is to expose your child to God’s Word, not which translation you use. And, you shouldn’t feel pressured to use a certain translation simply because you think CM would do it that way, or there are others out there that use it and it seems more “advanced” or whatever. I don’t feel anymore dumbed down in my knowledge of God’s Word or my spirituality because of my choice of translations.
With that said, yes, the KJV is a beautiful version. Okay, let me rephrase that. Many people think that the KJV is beautiful. I am one of those horrible people that just doesn’t feel that way!! If that is important to you, then by all means you should read to your children from that version. I’m not sure the age of your daughter, but the younger you start something, the more “normal” it will seem to her as she grows and matures.
Anyways, that is just my humble opinion.LeanneMember
Thank you Doug for posting the quote by Charlotte Mason. It makes me like her even more! And I read the other entries that you posted. Very helpful! I would also like to thank you and Sonya for how gracious you are in all the comments you put on this site. I really appreciate it and I have been learning so much. Thank you.
I would like to offer some food for thought on the very common idea of “God’s Word is His Word, no matter what translation you use”.
It’s important to realize that there are translations out there that were created to further a specific agenda. (e.g., the Revised Feminist Bible and others so egregious I won’t even mention them on this forum.) There are also some versions we erroneously call translations that are really paraphrases and reflect the interpretation of the authors, such as The Message or the Living Bible. Although some of those may be helpful, they are kind of like a commentary and I don’t refer to them as God’s Word.
I have actually seen cases where a person or group built harmful doctrines because of a version they used. So which version we use with our children is more important than it may seem at first glance. My personal criteria is to look for something that is translated accurately and true to the original languages, yet with good readability. Those translations do exist and and are reasonable approachable by children who can read well with no dumbing down needed.
I don’t have any problem with using Bible story books to help introduce children to the the Bible, but I’m careful in how I refer to them. For example, I differentiate between Bible stories and the Bible itself or God’s Word. I don’t particularly like the term “Bible story book” because how is that different in a child’s mind than “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” or some other story? It’s subtle but I prefer to use descriptions like “true stories from the Bible”.Lesley LetsonParticipant
Doug, I appreciate your analysis of translations. I agree that there are some out there that are just plain inaccurate. Our family has about 2 or 3 that we read from that from our research are pretty true to the original Hebrew and Greek. And some are easier to read than others.
I went round and round myself about the kids bibles. We read THE bible to our children everyday and God’s word is part of our daily life. When my children were (and for the ones that still are) very young we read from a short story bible of sorts with pictures (now that’s a whole other can of worms I’ll avoid right now – we’ve gone round and round about that one too). It was helpful when they were little bitty to let them hear a whole story from the bible in a short time span – and they really looked forward to it. My older son picked it up when he started to read and was thrilled that he could read “the bible” to his brothers and himself. Any time there was a question we would pick up the “Real bible” and read the same story from that to fill in the details (or correct wrongs if they came up). As they’ve gotten a bit older we also read from the Catherine Vos Child’s Story bible (as well as our daily real bible readings with Daddy). But my older son who is a newer reader still loves to be able to read the other one on his own. We explain the distinctions between the two and I don’t feel that the waters are muddied in their understanding. Where we fell on that decision was to use them – I see in my son a love for God’s word at a young age and an eagerness to read the bible. He tries to read the real bible but isn’t quite there yet, he likes being able to zip through stories that are written in words easy for him to read. I guess what I am saying is that I don’t see anything wrong with letting them have something that encourages their love for the Lord and his Word – unless of course it is down right blasphemous or inaccurate. I think children are smart enough to understand the difference and as long as you are explaining it to them and reading the actual bible there is nothing wrong with letting them read something on their reading level.
As far as KJV versus other versions….if you have another version that you use and feel is an accurate one and easier to read I wouldn’t see anything wrong with using that for your bible study. I would think the goal is to teach her a love for and understanding of God’s word. I personally think having one that is easier to read helps me to understand better and I would assume the same for my children. I have a hard time reading the KJV (even though I grew up hearing it) and maybe that is because it is not the type of language we are used to hearing today. God’s word is beautiful language not only in the KJV. And there is always poetry and other literature if you are wanting to expose her to “beautiful language” in older English style but just not the bible.HopeMember
I have been reading this topic as a newbie here with young children and loved reading the blog posts about this topic. I agree with pretty much everything that has been said, but wanted to state that the New Living is a complete translation. The Living Bible and The Message are paraphrases, but the New Living is a thought-for-thought translation like the NIV, whereas the KJV or NASB and others are word for word translations.
We use various translations here, but after much study (we looked into how each translation was commissioned and what original texts were used), we use the New Living Translation for most of our family Bible study time as the language is easy for young ones to comprehend.
@Hope, Thanks for the clarification. I had meant to say the Living Bible was a paraphrase, not the NLT. You are correct that the NLT is a dynamic equivalence (thought-for-thought) translation like the NIV. I have corrected that in my previous post.nancygParticipant
Wow! As always, I am grateful and blessed by the generous, thoughtful, reverent, honest responses!! Thank-you so much to every one who took time – it’s helped me think.galpinloMember
For my 2 1/2 year old I searched and searched for a toddler Bible as when I went home to the U.S. and looked in several books stores, but was dismayed to find all children’s bibles had really lame illustrations!! They did not seem like living books at all in fact were rather really dumbed down. For such an important book – why should it have such dumb illustrations? I was reading Kenneth Taylor’s Giant Steps, Big Thoughts for LIttle People series to prompt discussion with my little one, but then wanted to move on to a more Bible study. But his bible has been updated with terrible illustrations. So i searched for the 1980’s original one and found it at amazon.uk and it was frightfully expensive, but worth it I feel since introducing the Bible is such a scared thing. We do not have family devotions since my husband is jewish.
I really love the Kenneth Taylor toddler bible The Bible In Pictures for Little Eyes with the 1984 illustrations I found at amazon.uk. It is not dumbed down at all and my daughter feels like she is learning something very serious/grown-up and important when we are reading (pre-nap time). I also presented it to her wrapped as a gift and told her she is a big girl so she is ready for this big girl book. It does not unfortunately have any scripture to go along with the stories as Taylor’s Big Thoughts for Little People has. This is my only complaint. So until she graduates to another Bible, I am trying to supplement the stories with a one liner scripture from my own Bible. I have also been using Big Truths for Young Hearts by Bruce Ware to help me along in teaching doctrine as we discuss the stories – so it is not merely about a “story.” Ware’s book is great for helping me be able to explain doctrinal truths in simplistic form to little ones (and to myself)!! (unlike my Foundations of the Christian Faith by Boice textbook).
Also would love follow up suggestions on children’s bible for ages 6+…..
This was such a helpful post, especially those links to Intentional Parents. Thanks!
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