Kevin DeYoung has published another resource geared toward children helping them (and their parents) see the redemptive narrative from the Old Testament to the New Testament.
I have DeYoung’s previous two shorter children’s works, and I have found them both helpful as supplemental resources for reading the Bible. His original children’s book, The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden, is a staple in the Tomlinson household and a book we give out regularly to new parents. We return to it time and time again as we strive to help our children see God’s seeking and saving power in Jesus Christ.
We have also used DeYoung’s board book, The Biggest Story ABC, in our nursery as a simple way to introduce the gospel to little ones. As a father and pastor, I have greatly appreciated these works and DeYoung and Clark’s (the illustrator) efforts.
So, you can imagine how excited I was to see this new installment in the series and how excited I was to work through an expansive children’s storybook Bible. DeYoung calls it The Biggest Story Bible Storybook (say that three times fast). Now, if you are familiar with Storybook Bibles, you know there aren’t many great options for kids if you’re trying to be careful and want something beautifully illustrated and well crafted. Few storybook Bibles meet those criteria.
That is why this new publication is no small feat. The demographic is children 6-12 years of age. The storybook summarizes 104 Bible stories seeking to showcase how glorious Jesus is and how He alone can save you from your sins. The talented Don Clark beautifully illustrates the book, and Crossway spared no expense to the actual materials used to make the book nice. It is cloth board and feels nice and sturdy to the touch. It is meant to be used regularly and will hold up better than most books and Bibles. The 104 Bible stories take you from the Old Testament to the New Testament, and DeYoung does a masterful job at telling this most important story beautifully. As I’ve gone through the book with my children, I have been struck by certain turns of phrases and how DeYoung makes otherwise difficult theological concepts accessible. I’ve re-read portions to my wife because of how striking and helpful various passages were—again, no small feat.
We aim to read a chapter a night when we can with my children, which seems to be DeYoung’s intention. Each chapter is less than three pages, and most of the pages are taken up with Clark’s illustrations. I bring this up for the reader concerned that the storybook is too wordy—it is not (although it is more thorough than the Snake Crusher book).
Now, Clark is a unique illustrator, and there is more to his illustrations than meets the eye (see, for instance, his illustration of Adam and Eve eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil). Clark’s artwork captures the beauty of how DeYoung captures the most beautiful of stories—they are a good and helpful pairing.
Another unique characteristic of the book is that each chapter ends with a short prayer that captures the main point of the chapter’s story. We have found this helps to reinforce to our kids what they need to pick up on, and the prayers are little applications of the stories.
My only critique of this book is the utilization of the images of Jesus, none of which were utilized in DeYoung’s previous two works. In his previous two works, you had an outline of Jesus of pierced hands, or a stone rolled away from a tomb. I found that approach to be so helpful as a parent and pastor who believes the 2nd commandment includes images of Jesus. Furthermore, refraining from including images of Jesus would have set this book even more apart from the other storybook Bibles on the market, and it would have checked all of my boxes. But to my disappointment, the images are there, and frankly, they are all over the book’s latter pages.
So, while I am thrilled about the publication of this new work and am excited at how it can introduce children to Jesus through the retelling of the stories of the Bible, I am still awaiting a resource with the same level of theological care and beauty to come to market. When it does, that will be something unique. But I will say, this publication is a huge improvement compared to what is on the market currently. It is worth checking out.
Joey Tomlinson (DMin, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is a husband, father, and pastor at a local church in Newport News, Virginia. He blogs regularly on broadoakpiety.org and hosts a weekly podcast called The Broad Oak Piety Podcast with another local pastor in the community.