You probably know by now that The Jesus Storybook Bible is my hands-down favorite children’s Bible, and it can be enjoyed by young and old both. But when your child is ready to begin reading the Bible on their own, what’s the best option? There are a lot of gimmicky kids’ devotional and “theme”Bibles on the market. I prefer something that uses a good, solid translation, focuses on God’s Word rather than some gimmick, and has age-appropriate study helps and features. Well, I think that the ESV Seek and Find Bible, the most recent item I received as part of the Crossway Publishing parent review program, may fit the bill!
Published in partnership with Concordia Publishing House, this new, full-color children’s Bible combines the complete text of the ESV with 130 full-page illustrations of major Bible stories. Each illustration is accompanied by a clear, accurate retelling of that particular story for younger readers, along with a key verse, related reading suggestions, and simple reflection questions to help children begin to understand and apply God’s Word. Icons are included with the key verses and related readings to to help children locate them in the text. Each book begins with a simple introduction, highlighting the important characters and themes found in it. There are also Bible character profiles, maps, and sections with additional facts and background information scattered throughout. For example, there’s a two-page, full-color spread showing a cutaway illustration of Solomon’s Temple, with each part clearly labeled and explained, and Scripture references. The suggested age range is 5 to 9.
After spending a couple of weeks interacting with this Bible, I’m pretty impressed! The format is great. I love the concise book introductions and additional information scattered throughout the text. Looking up verses can be intimidating for younger readers, but the Seek and Find’s fonts and page layouts make the chapter and verse labeling clear and easy to read. The illustrations are very nice. They’re realistic, rather than cartoony, but still colorful and inviting, and the accompanying stories are perfect for reading aloud. The icons with the key and related verses really do make it easy to locate the story and related verses in the actual text too. The application questions that accompany each story and illustration are to the point and thoughtful.
I will say that I think the suggested age range is a bit too young. I’d put it more in the 8 to 12 age range to use without assistance. I’d also love to see a compact version. The copy I received is a full-size hardback, which is a bit unwieldy for a child…in fact, I find a full-size hardback unwieldy to carry around as an adult! There is a TruTone leather versionavailable that may be a bit lighter. I haven’t seen it in person, but I’m considering purchasing it for Karate Kid (10) to use for his personal Bible.
Overall, I think Crossway and Concordia have done a great job with this Bible’s content! It’s ideal for the child that has outgrown a story Bible but isn’t quite ready for a full-fledged teen or adult study Bible just yet. I like that it uses a good, solid, translation like the ESV that’s understandable to read yet more accurate than something like the NLT, which seems to be most prevalent in children and teen Bibles. Both the format and study help content is just right for upper elementary and junior high age children. It would work equally well for personal or family use or in classroom situations. The ESV Seek and Find Bible is a good, solid, user-friendly Bible that will encourage kids to get into God’s Word and realize that it’s not as intimidating as they might think! It definitely has a permanent place on our shelf!