My 5-year-old (okay, 5½) has been reading Ken Taylor’s The New Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes. It’s pretty basic — below her comprehension if we were reading it to her, but not a bad level for her to read to herself. Each story is about 1-2 pages and has 2-3 questions about it at the end… she reads those too, and answers them for herself.
The other day she was starting the New Testament, and she asked me about the divider page between the testaments and what it meant. In a moment of what was probably needless incentivizing on my part, I told her that if she finished it, I would buy her a new Bible, one for older kids. That was probably less than a week ago… she’s done now. The whole Bible in about a month. We’re talking a very simplified version, but we’re also talking about a 5-year-old reading to herself.
She announced she was ready to get her new Bible, so I decided to quiz her. Five questions; test results:
- How does Elijah go to Heaven?
She had trouble with this one, but we worked out the answer. I discovered the main issue was that she didn’t know what a chariot was (we don’t have many of them on our street), so I remedied that — it should make sense now so she’ll remember.
- Tell me 5 Cool things about the Bible:
[Showing me the stories for each one in her Bible:]
- Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead
- Jesus walks on water
- A blind man sees again
- Jesus stops a storm
- Elisha & the oil jar that never got empty
- How did God make the river stop flowing so the people could cross?
it was a miracle. Moses held his stick out.
I have to give her that one — in this version the Red Sea is a river.
Pressing, I ask if God did it another time?
I show her the picture of the ark going through the Jordon riverbed, and we talk about it a bit. I have to give her this one too, because her version just says God dried up the water, nothing more.
- Remember Jesus with the kids on his lap?
Yes—we did a play about that one time, and [our oldest] was Jesus because she’s the biggest and we had to sit on her lap.
What did Jesus’ disciples say?
What did Jesus say?
Let them stay!
- Remember when Peter was in Jail? (Yes.) God had to get him out, how did he do it?
An angel helped him get out!
Okay, yes, I’m proud of her. And yes, I told her so. All smiles. She’s quite excited, and was bouncing when she reported to her mother: “I get my new Bible! I have zero pages left, and I already took my test!”
It looks like I’m definitely on the hook for a new Bible for her, too. Not a well-timed expense, but I’ll brush that aside one way or another. And it looks like she really needs it, too… I’m not sure what Ken Taylor’s problem with water crossings is… a lot needs to be glossed over for younger kids, but on some of the stories I think he’s done a bit much. Still, this version is highly-accessible for young children, and was enough to hook our youngest and draw her in. As kids get older, the details get filled in, and corrected as necessary (God knows I’m still correcting my understanding of the Bible!), so I guess that’s just par for the course.
Now I’ve got to find something that strikes a good balance for, say, a 5-8-year-old. Any suggestions? Stories of your own with kids’ Bible-reading?