My four-year-old and I are nearly finished reading The Child’s Story Bible by Catherine Vos, so I’m going to go ahead and set down some of my thoughts about it. Without hesitation, this has been my favorite book to read this year. Of course, much of my enjoyment is related to the fact that this is the first sizable book that her and I have read together, yet we would not have made our way through this 800-page behemoth of a children’s book if the content was not fantastic.
Although Banner of Truth has recently republished this book, it is certainly not new; rather, it was originally published in the 1930s. As with every Banner hardcover that I own (which is more than a few), the quality is great and ready to endure much reading and rereading.
As for the actual content, I should begin by noting that no story Bible is ever going to be without flaw as the Bible itself is. Nor can any storybook Bible ever replace reading Scripture itself. Even still, well-written and biblically faithful story Bibles can be a wonderful treasure for introducing our children to the main stories and the overall narrative of Scripture. And The Child’s Story Bible does that excellently.
Again, taking up 800 pages, Vos covers a significant portion of the narrative portions of Scripture. For example, nearly every story Bible that I have read rushes through the era of divided kingdoms, assuming that the stories of all those kings would be uninteresting for children. Vos, however, spends more than a hundred pages on this period of biblical history. Because these histories were not skipped over, my daughter now thinks of King Manasseh alongside Paul as examples of wicked men whom God received whenever they repented of their sins.
Another of my favorite story Bibles is The Jesus Storybook Bible. For all the things that Sally Lloyd-Jones does well in that book, my biggest critique is its overly sentimental tone. The Child’s Story Bible does not have that problem. Although Vos does skip over some of the accounts most unfriendly to children’s ears (Judges 19 is a prime example), she does not avoid or lighten the actual violence and suffering found within Scripture. In her telling of David’s fight with Goliath, she rightly notes that David beheaded the God-hating giant. In the chapter on Jonah, she does not conclude the account with the events of chapter 3 but includes Jonah in chapter 4 asking God to kill him. Samson and Zedekiah both lose their eyes. She even explains why the pagan worship of gods like Moloch were so abominable. In other words, she does not shy away from the real and somber depravity that the Bible displays in contrast to the good news of Jesus Christ.
In fact, perhaps the element of this book that I love the most is simply that Vos’ writing comes across as a helpful guide who still assumes the reader’s competence. She explains confusing and cultural matters well (so that adults will also likely benefit from her explanations); however, she clearly believes that children are capable of grasping the numerous persons, places, and events of the Bible, which I believe is rather rare of children’s books today.
I also asked my daughter if she had any words about her Bible that she would like to add to this review, and she said, “It’s my most favorite one.”
So, there you have it. If you do not yet own The Child’s Story Bible, I highly suggest that you buy it.