Saturday, August 5, 2017

Back to School Bible

With our three children in school, the start of each schoolyear is the same for our family as it is for most everyone else with children living beneath their roof--between the new backpacks, uniforms, school supplies, and the every-increasing generic "fees," our bank account takes a major hit.

Still, each August, our family makes a conscious effort to not just begin a new year of public-school education.  We also start new levels of their spiritual education, complete with new workbooks, new mission action projects, new badges to earn, and new Scriptures to learn.  Instead of seeing these spiritual supplies as extras, we view them as essentials as much as we do their school uniforms and notebooks.

In this way, my husband and I strive for balance when training our children up in the Lord, acknowledging the need to prioritize their spiritual education on a daily basis as much as we automatically prioritize their public-school daily education.

This year, we were thrilled to give our children the new NIV Kids' Visual Study Bible.

Retailing at $22.86 on Amazon, the Bible offers 700 photographs, illustrations, infographics, and maps in color.  That is the "cool" part according to my children.  I've found them flipping from page to page, just looking at the images and reading the text.
For example, in the book of Philippians, the book begins with a photograph of the ruins at Philippi as they are today.  Then, the book gives an illustration of Philippi in the time of Paul.  Further in the book, there is an infographic called "Big Ideas in Philippians" that summarizes main themes in the text.

Each book of the Bible starts with a single page giving a summary of the book.  Some of the summative questions (they vary per book):
  • Who wrote this book, 
  • Why was this book written, 
  • What happens in this book, 
  • What do we learn about God in this book, 
  • Who is important in this book, 
  • For whom was this book written,
  • Where did this happen, and 
  • What are some of the stories/important teachings in this book?
Another cool feature of the Bible is that it has a 2" creamy egg-yellow column on the side of each page, leaving room for editorial commentary and for the children to take notes during private study or at church.  As an adult, I hate the commentary being on the side vs. at the bottom in a footnote format and find it distracting.  However, I understand that's the whole point.  The editors' logic in putting the commentary here in a kids' Bible is because it is large and in their face, something they won't ignore, which will get children used to the idea of looking for commentary in an adult Bible where it's inconspicuously footnoted with tiny 1's and 2's. 

I've read through a good bit of the commentary and don't find it incredibly amazing, but then again, I don't find it controversial either, which was a concern.  And again--it's a kids' Bible, so the "little extra" that the sidenotes give is a teaching moment.  Small steps.

I do want to add that there are some cross-referenced Scriptures in tiny footnotes at the bottom, but they are minimal.

If I have one complaint about the Bible, it's that the primary text is way too small, and yes, that is a BIG complaint.  I'm only 40 and don't wear glasses yet, but still, I find myself squinting at what appears to be 9 point font (!!).  I wish the editors would have shrunk the notetaking space to 1.5" (vs. 2") so the font could have been a bit larger.  Our children already have to squint at everything from their tablets to our smart phones.  Their Bible shouldn't require squinting, too.

Overall, my three children (ages 9 and 10 1/2) and I have really enjoyed using this Bible thus far. The chapter "Highlights" or "Big Ideas" infographics are a favorite since they give book overviews at a glance. And despite the small print, it's a good transitional Bible from the typical children's Bible to an adult Bible, giving the kids a chance to (1) learn how to read / seek out commentary about Scriptures they don't understand and (2) giving them space in the margins to take notes like mom and dad.

Both are of key importance to us, as parents, since our children are well on the path to becoming tweens.

** I received a complementary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, good or bad.