My foray into the blog world this last year has opened my eyes to some trends I had never heard of. One of these was the belief that Bible story books for children were somehow not good enough, and that children should be read to only from their parent's Bible.
While I wholeheartedly agree that children should hear the Word of God straight from the Bible, I have to respectfully disagree with the feeling on story books. I gave this subject a lot of thought and prayer (several months, in fact) before I decided to do what we've always done. We like Bible story books.
Let's use my 3 year-old, Nicholas, as an example. I have told him some of the most popular Bible stories from the Old Testament at nap time when he requests a "story out of my mouth." (That means, don't read it from a book; tell one from memory.) He loves Jonah and the Whale and Noah and the Ark.
But we also have a very simple story book with colorful illustrations that show him these stories. He loves to look at the colorful rainbow at the end of the story of Noah. He studies the inside of the whale's mouth and all the other creatures inside next to Jonah. He marvels at the picture of David and the huge giant.
Now that he's heard the stories so many times, he will pick up the book and "read" it to himself. It warms my heart to hear him look at the pictures and read the story out loud.
This example leads to a comparison: we let our children look at picture books on every other subject, like caterpillars, princesses, dogs, space shuttles, dinosaurs, kitties and friends, and find no objection to them at this age. So I don't understand why looking at pictures of Bible stories is somehow not appropriate. If I'm going to let him look at a book by Dr. Seuss with made-up gobbledy-goop, then I think I'd like him to look at a book illustrating God's power, His miracles, and His kindness as well.
When Jesus spoke to the crowds during his brief ministry, He himself simplified the gospel by telling stories (parables) that the people could understand. Solomon, when writing an entire book of wisdom, broke it down into short tidbits and even threw in many comparisons to make it understandable.
So at our house, we will continue to do what we are already doing: read and tell Bible stories to the younger children, read aloud from the Bible to the entire family at the table, and encourage the older children to read their Bibles on their own. It works for us!