Okay, parents. It’s time to be honest with ourselves. The Bible is boring! At least, it is for our kids… or is it?
Let’s face it: getting kids interested in scripture and keeping that attention can be like pushing a boulder uphill with one hand. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You need the best kids Bible for your kids.
The good news is that there are a lot of childrens’ Bibles to choose from! The bad news is that many of them are still uninteresting for children, and some are just plain bad. So what are the best Bibles for kids?
Keep in mind that when I say “Bibles for kids” I am not talking about teens (youth). That is a different age group altogether that I will cover at another time.
Here I will tell you about kids Bibles and how to find a good one. I also give you 10 recommendations of the best kids Bibles to choose from. The best kids Bible might differ from kid to kid, so make sure to check out the age ranges and different features to make sure it’s a good fit.
- 1 What is a Children’s Bible?
- 2 Why use a Children’s Bible?
- 3 Who should have Children’s Bibles?
- 4 How to find a Good Kids Bible
- 5 Here it is… the best Bibles for Kids in 2017
- 6 The Jesus Storybook Bible
- 7 Jesus Calling Bible Storybook
- 8 The Early Reader’s Bible
- 9 NIV Adventure Bible
- 10 The Big Picture Story Bible
- 11 The Action Bible
- 12 The Manga Bible
- 13 The Rhyme Bible Storybook
- 14 A Child’s First Bible
- 15 The Complete Illustrated Children’s Bible
- 16 A Prayer for Seeking A Kid’s Bible
- 17 There We Have It…
- 18 Leave A Comment!
What is a Children’s Bible?
Usually when we say “children’s Bible” or “bible for kids” we’re not talking about an actual Bible. Technically a Children’s Bible isn’t a Bible at all. After all, there is a reason why you are looking for a kids Bible and not giving a regular Bible to your children, right?
A Children’s Bible is usually a book with shortened, simplified, illustrated versions of various major Bible stories rephrased to be more appropriate for kids. Which Bible stories and the degree to which they are shortened or paraphrased differ from Bible to Bible. However, the format is usually similar.
Kids Bibles are not typically made to be used for teaching theology and historical Biblical accuracy. Yes, you should teach your children from theologically rich sources. Yes, you should make sure they learn proper history. But it must also have the heart of a child.
There is no need to obsess over the realism in a Bible for kids or be upset that every point in a commentary for children does not line up 100% with Grudem’s Systematic Theology. At such a young age, the overall message of the Bible is most important. You can introduce more details as they grow older.
Below I am not going to strictly recommend story Bibles and baby Bibles, but several different types and formats which are suited for various ages and situations.
Why use a Children’s Bible?
Obviously you wouldn’t hand your five-year-old a world encyclopedia to teach them how to read, would you? So why would you give them a full-text KJV or a study Bible for learning about Jesus?
Most children and especially young children do not have the reading ability nor the attention span to read or study the Bible in the regular, adult way.
In the same way we give children picture books to learn simple words, shapes, and colors until they can read novels, we give them kids Bibles to learn about God and scripture until they are old enough to use a regular Bible.
Also, it is important for children to learn at an early age that there should be time set aside daily for seeking a relationship with God through prayer and the study of scripture.
Planting this spiritual discipline in your children from infancy ensures that they will not find a devotional time foreign or weird later in life. If you teach them throughout their lives to treasure this time, they will reap the benefits of a lifetime of intimacy with God.
Who should have Children’s Bibles?
Of course, Christian families with children want to have child-appropriate Bibles in their home to teach their kids about God. Similarly, church nurseries and children’s ministries will have these books around for the same purpose.
There are a few other applications for kids Bibles that you might not have thought of. For example, kids Bibles are also good for people with learning disabilities even if they are well into adulthood.
Similarly, some seniors (particularly those with brain diseases such as alzheimer’s or dementia) find children’s Bibles to be enjoyable as their minds tire and need more simple literature.
Even some regular, healthy adults enjoy reading kids Bibles as a way of getting an emotional refresher on Biblical understanding. Particularly, reading to children brings a lot of parents and teachers closer to God on an emotional level.
A couple of the Bibles below, the Action Bible and the Manga Bible, are neither kids Bibles nor regular Bibles. They are graphic-novel Bible interpretations, drawn in a comic-book style. These two happen to be great for older kids, and are made to inspire further study of the actual scriptures.
How to find a Good Kids Bible
Just like every other Christian product out there whether it be films, music, or games… most of it is just “meh.” Some of it is just plain bad… and even less are excellently crafted treasures.
So how can you tell a good kids Bible from a bad one? Well, the most simple and obvious answer might be to just “Google it.” Maybe that’s how you got here, and that’s great! I have done my best to compile a list of the best Bibles for kids available to buy online today in 2017.
But what if you decide to take a look for yourself and shop around for awhile, or buy local at a bookstore where you can read the book in person and feel it in your hand? In general, what makes a Bible good for kids?
There are a lot of factors, of course, but in general the Bible needs to be made for children. That sounds obvious enough, but there are too many tiny new testaments out there made to give newborns on the day of their birth, and there are too many bright colorful Bibles branded “for kids” that are actually just regular full-text Bibles.
Kid Bibles need to be child-friendly. That includes things that keep the child’s attention such as colorful illustrations, shorter and simpler sentences, and toned-down themes (in more graphic violent or sexual stories). If you buy a book that’s full of random Bible verses with diagrams thrown here and there, you might not be looking at a Bible for kids.
Another thing that makes a children’s Bible good is that it does more than just retell Bible stories. The very best Bibles for kids include not just Bible narrative, but explanation of how that narrative fits into the story of Jesus that fits into the lives of the children. You’ve got a good one if your child is not just learning about the Bible, but how it can help them to know Jesus.
Also, you should care about theology and scriptural accuracy. Like I mention above, don’t obsess over every detail of a Bible, but take care to make sure it at least falls within traditional orthodoxy. Some children’s Bibles are more accurate than others, and that is okay. Understand that these are for kids and when they get older the time will come for study Bibles and more detailed resources.
Comments on Ethnicity
The Bible teaches that there is only one race… the human race. Every tribe, language, nation, ethnicity, and people group, are created as image-bearers of a Holy God and not one race is superior or favored over another. That being said, it is important for us to realize that the Bible tells stories of many people groups, tribes, and ethnicities, and most of them are not the color of sour cream.
Many children’s Bibles are whitewashed and only portray caucasian characters. I am not usually one to be bothered by minor racial issues and I am not saying that the publishers are racist, but I am annoyed when the Israelites are portrayed as Aryans. It is typically accepted that while wealthier and higher classes of the Jewish people may have tanned less, the majority of working-class Israelites and other middle-eastern cultures would likely have had darker skin pigmentation.
Of course no one knows the true skin color of Adam and Eve or Noah, or even Abraham. They could have been white, black, red, green, or purple. But that gives us no reason to assume that they were all pasty. We can also argue about time when Israel mingled and mixed with other races. Surely there were caucasian-looking Jews in Jesus’ time as there are today. If anything, though, their skin tones would have more variety than in most of today’s kids Bibles.
In case probable historical ethnicity is important to you, I have included notes where applicable about the diversity and accuracy of ethnicity in each Bible… while I think that the message of the Bible is more important than the characters, I also like Bible products to be historically accurate and this includes portrayal of realistic ethnicities.
Notes on Audio and Digital Formats
Please note that the reviews below are strictly for the the physical, printed version of each product. Nearly all of the reviews I read from people who purchased digital editions (i.e. audiobook or Kindle versions) were negative and disappointed.
Thus, I would not recommend buying a digital version of a children’s Bible without specifically researching that format. Just be careful and make sure to check the sample versions and search for reviews of those versions.
Here it is… the best Bibles for Kids in 2017
So to make the task a little easier for you I’ve narrowed the list down to the top 10 best Bibles for kids. 10? Isn’t that still a lot to choose from? Don’t worry… there is one that I think is best. But There are also several good runners up.
Personally, I think the Jesus Storybook Bible is the best Bible for children on the market right now. If your child is under 8, I’d definitely take a look at this one. If you have an older child or a pre-teen, though, I’d try the NIV Adventure Bible coupled with the Action Bible.
I have done a ton of research on this topic, including hearing straight from both parents and children’s ministers about the best bible for kids! I’ve also done looked at best seller lists and read LOTS of reviews so I know all about these products from people with different opinions and backgrounds.
Basically, I did all the research so you don’t have to. I just want to help you get excellent Bible resources for your family, and this is the best way I can do it! 🙂
The numbers on this list are more or less in order of best to worst, or at least my top favorites moving to ones I still like but do not necessarily love. Some of the Bibles that are only for older kids are further down the list simply because the age range is more narrow. This doesn’t mean they are not quality Bibles.
I’m making this list to try and make a decisions for your children a little easier, so feel free to jump in with my #1 recommendation (to me, it’s hands down). But if you need a little more time to look at other options I’ve still got you covered here.
The Jesus Storybook Bible
The Jesus Storybook Bible has become a legend in the world of kids Bibles. This Bible is so captivating and interesting that it even appeals to adults, to those with an adventurous spirit and the heart of a child.
Not too long ago one of the pastors at my church recommended the Jesus Storybook Bible mid-sermon for both adults and children to read! That sermon was to the adult congregation! My church not only utilizes this children’s bible in the children’s wing, but even the youth area and “grown up church!” So right off the bat we have a children’s bible that is not too dumbed down, and also appealing even to later ages.
I think the best feature of the Jesus Storybook Bible is how each story is related to Jesus and explains to children how all of scripture fits into the ultimate narrative of Christ. It’s amazing because even a lot of adult study Bibles don’t emphasize the connection to Jesus at every turn.
Some liberties are taken to make more gruesome stories child-appropriate and some longer stories shorter. Some reviewers say that the text is too wordy and could be more simple for younger kids, but that they are still happy to have it for later ages. There are also some who disagree with a few theological points, but this is to be expected of any Bible commentary. Like I said, this book isn’t for teaching children the finer points of doctrine.
Another great thing about this Bible is that there is a good variety of differing skin tones. Biblical figures of unknown ethnicity tend to have a more neutral medium color rather than defaulting to totally white, and there is tan skin like you would expect from middle-eastern commoners.
All in all the Jesus Storybook Bible is interesting, well-written, simple, and does an excellent job at teaching children (and adults) to find Jesus in scripture. The Jesus Storybook Bible is Amazon’s #1 bestseller for children’s Bibles and 96% of the Amazon reviews are 4 and 5 stars.
Jesus Calling Bible Storybook
Sarah Young has become famous in the world of devotional writing for her incredible devotional book “Jesus Calling.” Her writings are praised for being both comforting and also theologically rich. They are also slightly controversial because her devotionals are written in first person from the perspective of Jesus Himself.
The Jesus Calling Bible Storybook is basically a children’s story Bible mixed with a Jesus Calling devotional for kids. This Bible features a number of both old and new testament Bible stories made understandable and more appropriate for children, along with periodic “Jesus Calling” snippets showing God’s perspective.
Some people are uncomfortable with Jesus Calling because it speaks for Jesus. That is, the author writes as if Jesus is speaking to the reader. Some people feel this is presumptuous or blasphemous. Personally I think it is acceptable as long as these writings are based on an evangelical understanding of scripture and do not claim to be scripture.
Sarah Young herself says that “the Bible is, of course, the only Word of God, and I always endeavor to write in accordance with that unchanging standard.” Although many of her devotional writings are based off of prayer journals writing what she believed God was saying to her, she does not claim that it is prophetic or divinely inspired in the way that scripture is.
This storybook Bible is, in my opinion, not as solid as the Jesus Storybook Bible at portraying realistic skin tones. Most of the characters are a little more white than I think they probably were, but by and large the shading is still a significant improvement to most picture Bibles. In other words, it could be better but it’s not that noticeable.
The Jesus Calling Storybook Bible is another family favorite by a popular and masterful devotional writer. 94% of Amazon reviews for it are overwhelmingly positive, and the author’s other books are well known to be excellent devotional material.
The Early Reader’s Bible
Ages: up to 9 (publisher states 4-8 or Pre-K to grade 3)
Author: V. Gilbert Beers
The Early Reader’s Bible is an answer to prayer for parents who want to teach their children about reading and the Bible at the same time. It uses short sentences and simple words to help even young children read.
This Bible is awesome because it is specifically designed help children gain confidence in their ability to read as they learn words, spelling, and comprehension. It even has vocabulary words based on public school word lists and additional Bible vocabulary words.
It even teaches children that the Bible is not just an old book of fairy tales but has practical application. Each section has critical thinking questions and action steps that show your children how to act on God’s principles from scripture.
The only downside I found in this Bible is the over-simplification and lack of realism in many of the illustrations. For example, the tiny and cute little boat with Noah’s animals is in no way seaworthy, and angels are not just regular people with halos and wings who wear white robes. But meh, it’s for children, so I guess the simplification is understandable.
As far as ethnicity, like the Jesus Calling Storybook Bible, I think it could be better. Most characters are totally white (including modern children in the question sections). Jesus himself isn’t too bad; he has curly, brown hair and slightly tan skin. But of course, the only African person I saw is the single, token black king bringing a gift for baby Jesus.
Minor gripes aside, this is probably one of the best Bible resources for kids on the market right now, and I would hope to see this product in homes and church nurseries everywhere. 94% of Amazon reviews are 4 and 5 star recommendations, making this a rare gem.
NIV Adventure Bible
Age Range: 8-12 years or grades 3-7
Commentary Editor: Lawrence O. Richards
Okay, it’s about time for an actual Bible. The adventure Bible is for that growing child that is too old for a simple storybook Bible, but not quite old enough for the academics of a full-on study Bible. This is basically a study Bible for kids.
At first glance this Indiana-Jones-style book seems to target boys, but it is not explicitly listed as a Bible for boys and the content itself is gender-neutral. Although it has an “adventure” theme, don’t mistake that for meaning that girls would not be interested.
The point of it is to make the Bible more interesting for older children while also introducing them to more advanced study aspects such as culture, history, etc. It features sections such as “life in Bible times” and “did you know” to help kids visualize and relate to stories. It even has “live it!” sections teaching children how to apply the scriptures to their lives.
Remember earlier when I said not to nitpick too much at children’s Bibles for historical and theological discrepancies? Well, this is exactly the tool you need to graduate kids into that type of discussion. It’s still a little early to be teaching historical catechisms, I think, but it’s a good start.
There is a reason we don’t give full-text scripture to younger kids. But when they are old enough, I believe this is a great gift for a kid’s first Bible. 95% of Amazon reviewers were pleased with the purchase, and there are literally only 4 out of 419 reviews that have less than 3 stars. Folks, this one is a winner.
The Big Picture Story Bible
Age Range: Up to 8 (publisher states 3-7 or Pre-K to grade 2)
Author: David R. Helm
Illustrator: Gail Schoonmaker
This is another great story Bible. If you wonder why 3 of my first 5 recommendations are “story Bibles,” then you’re with me. This seems to be the best format for a Children’s Bible because they tend to be the most interesting for kids, have the best reviews, and be top sellers.
Also, story Bibles are an excellent way to keep kids’ attention. Children’s Bibles that are simply retold narratives might as well be a traditional “adult” Bible with pretty pictures. But story Bibles are written like storybooks and are designed specifically to appeal to children.
The advantages of this “Big Picture” Bible are similar to both the Jesus Storybook Bible and the Jesus Calling Bible storybook: it attempts not only to retell Bible stories in a way that children can read and understand, but it also tries to teach the “big picture” of the Bible.
I gotta gripe about all the disturbingly white people, though. Looking at the Hebrews enslaved in Egypt, I don’t think those people would have survived being captives in Egypt! They would literally fry, or melt, or something.
Anyway, the language in this story Bible seems to be a little more simple than the others, and there is more narrative than commentary. There are also context questions at the end of each section to help with comprehension.
It’s not my favorite of the story Bibles, but it’s still a good one. You can’t go wrong when 90% of the Amazon reviews are 4 and 5 stars.
The Action Bible
This one is a little different, and the only reason this Bible isn’t at the top of my list is because I would only recommend it for older kids, and it’s not necessarily just for kids either.
But for older children who learn visually and find other kid and adult Bibles “boring,” the Action Bible is a good pick. It’s not an actual Bible, but a comic book with artistically visual interpretations of many Bible stories.
The gritty art style in this comic book is intended to make the Bible more interesting by showing the “realness” of the Bible. Sometimes it’s difficult to read the Bible and be able to imagine what is going on. The Action Bible changes that by bringing the Bible to life with amazing artwork and enthralling dramatization.
Be warned that some of the darker Bible scenes depicted in this book might be a bit too much for younger or less mature children, so be cautious and give it a quick screening before you let your child read it. Of course this is no substitute for actually reading scripture, but sometimes we need help to relate with and understand the Bible, and the Action Bible is a great tool for that.
Surgio Cariello is an excellent illustrator and has made a brilliantly realistic, lively, and colorful masterpiece. Although most of the characters are fairly light-skinned, the contrast and depth of shading makes me more okay with that. I don’t think the ethnicity issue is too noticeable in this Bible because there are at least variegated skin tones with good shading.
Even though it’s not technically a “kid’s Bible,” the Action Bible is a fantastic segway to help kids become interested in the Bible. Many parents report that the Action Bible helps their children to understand scripture as well as increasing their interest to learn.
I think that’s awesome! Being the #2 top seller for kid Bibles with almost 2,000 Amazon reviews and an overwhelming supermajority of them being positive, this picture Bible is an absolute must-have for anyone, kid or collector.
The Manga Bible
Age Range: 9+
Illustrator: Siku (official website)
This little-known and under-appreciated Bible is a lot like the action Bible. The main difference is the art style: it’s done in the traditional Japanese manga style rather than a typical comic book style. Also, the manga Bible is in black and white while the Action Bible is in full color.
Personally I would recommend both this and the action Bible because they’re both great. However, if you have a child in your life who really loves manga or anime (that is Japanese comics and cartoons) this is the Bible for them.
This manga takes the entire narrative of the Bible and does really well at putting them all together in a single-volume epic. It is a bit lighthearted and hyperbolic at times, but not what I would say is inappropriately so.
This book is fantastic for a visual journey through the Bible from creation, to the rise and fall of Israel, to Jesus, to the early church, to revelation. I think it does an excellent job at telling the story with authority and prose.
This Bible doesn’t have quite as many reviews as most of the others on this list, but 80% of them are still positive. Personally I found the negative reviews to be rather nitpicky, but what can I say? The manga style is not for everyone. This is one of my favorite visual Bible tools, though.
The Rhyme Bible Storybook
Age Range: 2-7 (publisher states 4-8 or Pre-K to grade 3)
Author: L.J. Sattgast
Illustrator: Laurence Cleyet-Merle
Yet another storybook for children to read and enjoy, but this one is a little more poetic and musical. The Rhyme Bible Storybook wonderfully illustrates the Bible in a simple, childlike way using the memorable mechanism of rhyme.
If you are annoyed by simple rhymes and jagged, childish illustrations then this book might not be for you. But if your child is enticed by rhymes and you would like the opportunity to sing the Bible to them or recite stories with memorable rhythm, this is an excellent choice.
Although I don’t think there is an audio version, this Rhyme Bible seems like it would make a good introduction for children to learn musical and poetic form along with the basic themes of the Bible.
The skin colors in this Bible seem to be really odd and inconsistent. For awhile the people are just pastries, and then you start to see some tanned desert-dwellers. Then on one page, some Egyptians are black while others appear hispanic. On the next page, Egyptians are depicted as caucasian. It’s just confusing. Personally, I don’t see the point in ethnic diversity if it is not historically accurate. But whatever.
It’s worth noting that there is an older edition of this Bible that some people like better than the current one. While it’s a little more difficult to find, some say the illustrations and general aesthetics are better. The text is the same, though, so prioritize what is important to you and your family.
I am not overly impressed with this Bible in and of itself, but I do like the nuance of a rhyme Bible and I think it is a good addition to a nursery. And with over 200 positive reviews verus on 12 critical ones, you might as well see what everyone is raving about.
A Child’s First Bible
Age Range: 4-8 or Pre-K to grade 3
Author: Kenneth N Taylor
Publisher: Tyndale House
This kid’s Bible is about what you would expect from a children’s Bible. It’s a pretty simple narrative of the Bible without a lot of fluff. This is a bit more along the lines of a traditional “children’s Bible.”
You might get some nostalgic feelings for this Bible if you owned a children’s Bible in the 60s, 70s, or 80s. That’s the main reason it’s on this list: it’s reminiscent of a basic, old-school nursery Bible. Much like the Early Reader’s Bible, the stories in this Bible are simplified using short sentences and basic words for toddlers learning to read.
Some reviewers feel like the Bible stories are too short and simple, not being explained enough. But when the stories are longer, people complain that it doesn’t fit their children’s attention span. When stories are commented on, people complain the author shouldn’t insert their opinions.
My main complaint is that Jesus is a light bulb and all the characters depicted look European. If most of the Bible took place in Scandinavia, the people in this Bible would be drawn perfectly. But that is not the case, so one either has to ignore the issue or play pretend.
I think this is a decent kids’ Bible that gives a parent/teacher opportunity to teach more about the full scripture. It’s basic, simple, and good for early readers to get a grasp on both language and the Bible. There is not a lot about it that is new, special, or unique, but if that’s what you are looking for then this is the one you want.
As a top 10 seller in kids Bibles, it has over 700 reviews on Amazon, so someone wants it! And it may very well be because this Bible is keeping it basic. More than 88% of purchasers are satisfied, so it’s nothing to scoff at.
The Complete Illustrated Children’s Bible
Age Range: 5-11 (publisher states 5-8 or Pre-K to grade 3)
Publisher: Harvest House
This is another really basic children’s Bible, except the illustrations in this one are a bit more realistic and the stories are arguably a bit more “gruff.”
What’s good about this Bible is that it’s sort of a “back to basics” approach for a standard nursery or playroom Bible. It’s pretty much just Bible stories rephrased to be more simple with pretty illustrations. What really impresses me about this Bible are the visuals. They are realistic and rich, but also simple and colorful enough to keep the attention of children.
This Bible’s strength can also be its weakness, though. Would you consider Bible stories to be child appropriate? That’s why we want Bibles for children, right? Some reviewers (myself included) think that some of the stories are not “toned down” enough for children. The text itself is just narrative, not purposeful explanation.
I think this Bible is great for selectively choosing Bible passages for storytime, or helping to simplify the text for younger readers. However, reading page after page of God’s judgement on apostate Israelites might not be a good introduction for a child learning the Bible. Much of the old testament is very advanced for even adult Bible studies, let alone for children.
Don’t get me wrong: this is a great tool to have. It really helps to summarize Bible stories in simple language and help a child to grasp what’s going on. But it’s what I would call more of a tool to use with discernment than something for your children to read through cover-to-cover without additional discussion.
This Bible, though, takes third place for the top selling children’s Bibles on Amazon, so it’s a tried and tested testament to the world of picture Bibles. 96% of over 500 reviews are overwhelmingly positive, so don’t forget about it!
A Prayer for Seeking A Kid’s Bible
The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:16-18), and it’s important to pray even about little things. Finding a Bible that’s right for your situation might seem like a small thing, but it has a great impact. Feel free to use the following prayer to help guide you into seeking the Lord’s will on this issue, or use it as a framework to pray more personally:
“Lord, thank you for blessing us with your Holy Word and for protecting the scriptures so carefully. Thank you that there are so many resources to help us and our children learn and understand the Bible. You are truly a wonderful teacher and counselor.
God, you know the best options for teaching your word. You know what tools will benefit who at what time. You know the hearts of all. So today I am asking you for guidance in this area. Help me to choose a good resource for its purpose, and use it to speak to whoever uses it.
I ask that you will lead me to choose a Bible that will help to grow (name of recipient) in the Word and nurture a loving, personal relationship with you. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.”
There We Have It…
Now that I have listed the top ten best Bibles for kids, hopefully I have made your buying decision a little easier. If you’re still finding it hard to decide exactly which one to purchase, I would recommend the Jesus Storybook Bible for infants and toddlers and the NIV Adventure Bible plus the Action Bible for older kids and pre-teens.
If nothing else, buy a few different ones and experiment to see which ones your children engage with the most. It might take a few tries to get one that really interests them, and that’s okay. Interests change at the different developmental stages, and interests of children are constantly changing and growing.
Leave A Comment!
I really appreciate you coming by the Bible Booth! Please let me know if my guide here has helped you at all. Do you have a favorite kids’ Bible I missed? Do you have comment about my list? Have you found an awesome kids Bible you want to share? I’d love to hear your feedback, so please comment below! God bless!