We are always on the look out for great resources to help teach our kids about the Christian faith and we’ve come across a number of great Bible storybooks, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. The most recent addition to our collection is The Gospel Story Bible: Discovering Jesus in the Old and New Testaments, written by Marty Machowski. Over the course of 158 stories, The Gospel Story Bible walks families through the Bible—from Genesis to Revelation—in order to help kids get a grasp on the big story of Scripture and God’s plan for salvation through Jesus Christ.
At this stage, we’ve been reading The Gospel Story Bible (mostly) nightly with our oldest daughter at bedtime. She asks lots of questions during and after the story is complete, wants to look at the pictures and enjoys using the discussion questions provided whenever we’ve got time to actually go over them. Machowski also does a great job of keeping the essential details of the stories intact while keeping the language accessible. This is no easy feat. Many of the books we’ve got here at home–even the ones we really like—tend to be a bit too complicated or a tad to over-simplified (to the point that I sometimes have to correct the book, something that’s never fun during story time). Machowski strikes the right balance between accuracy and age-appropriate comprehension and for this I’m grateful. This is perhaps most noticeable when touching on a serious topic like God’s wrath and judgment. This is something you don’t see in a lot of storybook Bibles, even pretty decent ones like The Jesus Storybook Bible. Machowski doesn’t shy away from the hard truths of Scripture, but there are no scare tactics. He speaks plainly and appropriately, always returning to the hope found in the gospel.
Perhaps the greatest feature of this storybook Bible is its versatility. It can be used for bedtime stories for the little ones, dinnertime discussion with the older kids and as a basic primer for the parents in telling the story of Jesus in a way that kids will understand. It’s also nice to see how well it works in conjunction with our family devotional book (for which we happen to be Long Story Short: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God, also by Machowski). This has been an interesting experience—and a profitable one—as it gave us the opportunity to reinforce our dinnertime discussion out of Long Story Short and now preview what we’ll be coming to in the next few weeks.
Moving briefly from content to art, A.E. Macha’s visuals are quirky, clever and striking—she’s done a phenomenal job of communicating the stories without using too much detail, playing with different textures and patterns and keeping the characters appropriately abstract (this is especially important for those concerned about the appropriateness of depicting Jesus). You’ll almost certainly be looking for little easter eggs in the artwork (you’ll see what I mean when you read the story of the Flood).
Of all the storybook Bibles we have, I’d say The Gospel Story Bible is the best of the bunch so far. The stories are concise and faithful to the Scriptures, the artwork is engaging and the discussion questions are extremely helpful. I’d encourage any parent (especially one already using Long Story Short) to get a copy of this book to share with their children.
Title: The Gospel Story Bible: Discovering Jesus in the Old and New Testaments
Author: Marty Machowski (illustrated by A.E. Macha)
Publisher: New Growth Press (2011)