Read Aloud Bible Stories Vol. 1
Ella K. Lindvall & H. Kent Puckett
I usually take it as a good sign when I close a book and my 3-year-old’s reaction is to grab it, thrust it at me, and ask with her sweetest face, “Can we read it again, Mommy?” For a child who loves to read, she doesn’t do that often; she prefers to move pretty efficiently through her books. So, when she begged for a complete re-read of the first volume of Read Aloud Bible Stories, I sat up and took notice.
I’m glad I did. Had I happened across this book without her, and simply paged through it in the bookstore, I might well have passed it by. The five stories in the book have been distilled down to their simplest telling, and the theology snob in me might have dismissed them for that. But here’s the thing: this collection isn’t attempting to synthesize some overarching theological vision. Even better, it simply and beautifully introduces very young children to the character of Jesus.
Volume 1 of Read-Aloud Bible Stories (there are four altogether) is comprised of five stories taken from the gospels: Zaccheus, blind Bartimeus, Jesus and the children, the calming of the storm, and the healing of the ten lepers. In each story, Jesus is the hinge on which all the action turns. The bright, engaging illustrations never show his face, focusing instead on the reactions of those who see him, and inviting children to react along with them.
The narration is simple, almost simplistic, but it somehow sounds right when read aloud with a small child. Again, I was so glad I discovered this book in the reading to my daughter; otherwise, I could easily have missed the power of the concise telling. Extraneous details are left out, and very little context is given, but that allows the youngest children direct access to the “bones” of the biblical stories—and more importantly, to the character of the Man they are about.
That said, I like this book as a supplement to be read alongside either The Big Picture Story Bible or The Jesus Storybook Bible. It’s so fun to watch my daughter soaking in the stories—they have earned a regular spot in our bedtime rotation, per her request—and each of those story bibles provides the larger context of salvation history that she can begin to fit these into. In the meantime, she’s found the one book that makes it hard for me to say no to the request for “just one more.”