Teaching Children the Bible
Gospel-Centered Resources that Help
As Christian parents we’re responsible for raising our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). It’s our responsibility to teach them how to study his Word. We want them to see the Bible not as a collection of moral fables, but as the epic story of redemption.
The above words belong to John Wells and were offered in a March 10, 2016 TGC article. The quote is a good reminder to Christian parents as we instruct our children in godliness -- our prayer is for their spiritual conversion and not just their good behavior. And because the gospel is the power of God onto salvation, we teach the Bible primarily to show them God's redemption of sinners through the person and work of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:16).
With this, we know that the Bible itself is always our primary teaching curriculum (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). In addition, there are some great supplemental resources that can assist in the work. This page features a select few that have been useful to my family as we strive to obey Ephesians 6:4.
Parenting can be hard; praises to the God who perfects His strength in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). In all, "may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip [parents] with everything good that [we] may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen." (Hebrews 13:20-21).
The Garden, the Curtain and the Cross – the true story of why Jesus died and rose again
Author: Carl Laferton (illustrated by Catalins Echeverri)
Publisher: The Good Book For Children , 2016
Why I love it: This book reigns as my 2016 favorite children's book. In many ways, it is a "Bible story-line" overview for children. It aims to share the gospel by tracing 1) God's work in the Garden of Eden, 2) His placement of a curtain before the Most Holy Place, and 3) the reason for the cross of Christ. The book is stunningly illustrated! Here, I most appreciate its attempt to reflect the reality of Revelation 7:9-17--namely, the ethnic diversity of the church. But the best part about the book is its repetition of the phrase: "Because of your sin, you can't come in...BUT I died on the cross to take your sin...so all my friends can now come in!" My husband and I have made this phrase our useful "catechism" for explaining what sin does and what Christ has done on our behalf.
Everything a Child Should Know about God
Author: Kenneth N. Taylor (illustrated by Jenny Brake)
Publisher: Tyndale House, 2014
Why I Love It: This book was my favorite children's book in 2015. It served well as reading material for family worship for weeks! In many ways, it's a systematic theology book for little ones. It's a 10 chapter, 188 paged book. Each part comes with various sections that addresses topics including: what is the Bible, creation, who God is, the problem of sin, why Christ came, how the Holy Spirit helps us, why we go to church, and when Jesus comes back. These big ideas are explained in a child-friendly style. The book is beautifully illustrated and captures well the Revelation 7:9-17 vision of a diverse church. What a treasure for family devotions!
I Am: 40 Reasons to Trust God
Author: Diane Stortz (illustrated by Diane Le Feyer)
Publisher: Tommy Nelson, 2016
Why I love it: In many ways, I Am: 40 Reasons to Trust God is a book that tells the Bible story-line to children. Beginning with the Creator (Genesis) and ending with the King of Kings on a white horse (Revelation), the book details 40 of the Bible's names and titles for God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Each title/name of God is explained to children using a biblical story. Stories are followed by short devotionals aimed to help children see how the title/name shows who God is and what He does. Each chapter ends with a prayer and a "Learn More" section with additional Scriptures and Bible story-line notes for further study. This is a beautifully illustrated companion to your family devotional materials for sure!
The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every story whispers His name
Author: Sally Lloyd-Jones (illustrated by Jago Silver)
Publisher: Zonder Kidz, 2007
Why I Love It: The Jesus Storybook Bible is a massive 348-paged book with the mission to "tell the Story beneath all the stories in the Bible." Beautifully illustrated and almost poetic in voice, the book tells 21 Old Testament and 23 New Testament stories--puzzle pieces that fit together to reveal the Big Story of God's rescue of sinners through Jesus Christ. It's a great book to help point children away from "the moral of the story" to God's work in salvation through Christ!
The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings us Back to the Garden
Author: Kevin DeYoung (illustrated by Don Clark)
Publisher: Crossway, 2015
Why I Love It: The Biggest Story shares the goal of The Jesus Storybook Bible--both are determined to tell the Big Picture Story of the Bible through smaller stories. The Biggest Story stands apart in that it goes further to uncover some of the lesser known biblical themes of Scripture. For example, DeYoung speaks of Jesus throughout the book as the new Adam, the only One able to succeed where the first Adam failed; He alone can restore us to the Revelation 22 garden. The book is a vividly illustrated Bible story-line book for children (and their parents). It clearly exalts the snake-crushing King of Glory!
Sammy and His Shepherd: Seeing Jesus in Psalm 23
Author: Susan Hunt (illustrated by Cory Godbey)
Publisher: Reformation Trust, 2008
Why I Love It: And indeed, I love Sammy and His Shepherd! In many ways, the book is a Christological commentary on Psalm 23 for children. The 11 chapter book uses the story of Sammy the sheep and his "discipleship" of Precious, a new sheep in Sammy's shepherd's flock, to illuminate the attributes of the Good Shepherd and the many benefits He affords those in His sheepfold. Susan Hunt offers a verse-by-verse exposition of Psalm 23 in a story families will simply love!
Mark's Marvellous Book: Learning about Jesus through the Gospel
Author: Alan Mann
Publisher: Christian Focus Publications, 2015
Why I Love it: Coincidentally, I was reading through the book of Mark at the same time my husband and I were reading this book to our children. Comparing what I read in the Gospel of Mark to these summarized stories for children brought the book to life for me and added to my personal enjoyment of it. This book would serve well as your child's personal "commentary" to the Gospel of Mark. It does well in sharing who Jesus is and what He has accomplished on our behalf in a charming and child-friendly voice.
Rhyme and Reason Series - All 6 Volumes
Author: Catherine Zoller (Illustrated by Mr. Sketches)
Publisher: Rhyme and Reason Publishing
Why I Love it: Using age-appropriate poetic language, the Rhyme and Reason Series re-tells the books of Genesis, Exodus, Daniel, the Gospel of Matthew, Acts and Revelation. The summarized stories are accurate to Scripture and come with captivating illustrations (though somewhat lacking in diversity). These books serve well as fun whole book story-line summaries for my children!
Great Kings of the Bible: How Jesus is greater than Saul, David and Solomon
Author: Deepak Reju (Illustrated by Fred Apps)
Publisher: Christian Focus Publications,
Why I Love It: Great Kings of the Bible is a great example of what our emphasis, focus, and direction ought to be in teaching our children the stories of the Bible. Deepak Reju explains the history of Israel's great kings, Saul, David and Solomon, with a commitment to point children toward Jesus, the everlasting promised King who accomplished what no earthly king could. The book is a great resource for parents in showing children how the Old Testament points to Jesus.
The Priest with Dirty Clothes
Author: R.C. Sproul (illustrated by Justin Gerard)
Publisher: Reformation Trust, 2011
Why I Love It: The Priest with Dirty Clothes is based on Zechariah 3:1-5, the vision of Joshua the high priest. In that vision, the high priest stands before the angel of the LORD in dirty clothes and Satan stands at his right to accuse him. But the LORD rebukes Satan and Joshua's dirty clothes are removed and exchanged for clean garments. R.C. Sproul tells a similar story about a young priest named Jonathan. This is a beautiful tale aimed to explain the concept of imputed righteousness. Parents will find the book useful in helping children to see Christ as our substitute, not just in judgement but also, in righteousness. And if the The Priest with Dirty Clothes helps children to see Christ as our substitute in righteousness, then The Prince's Poison Cup is the companion book in showing Christ as our substitute in judgement. Both books (as well as all of Dr. Sproul's children's books) are must haves!
Truth and Grace Memory Book
Editor: Thomas K. Ascol
Publisher: Founders Press, Reprinted 2005
Why I Love It: My husband and I have chosen the Truth and Grace Memory Book as our catechism curriculum. To catechize is to teach Christian doctrine, using a question-answer method. I've heard Pastor Sinclair Ferguson describe catechism as putting Velcro on the hearts of children so that understanding, when it comes, sticks more firmly. We've enjoyed using the Truth and Grace Memory Book as our catechism curriculum for three reasons: 1) It employs historic orthodox teaching including The Shorter Catechism of The Westminster Assembly and the Heidelberg Catechism; 2) It comprises of three books, all organized by age (it begins as early as age 2!) and grade level (which makes it easy to teach as a parent); 3) It includes Scripture and hymn memorization. We have enjoyed learning together as a family!
Theo: Church Edition
The above video is a Bonus Session available on all three Theo Church Edition DVD sets.
Produced By: LifeWay Christian Resources
Why I Love It: Theo Church Edition comes in three DVD sets, each with four 10-minute episodes (see LifeWay for a breakdown of the sets and episodes). The episodes are beautifully animated, age-appropriate (4-12 ages) videos that serve well in teaching children concepts like saving faith, redemption, justification, adoption, and what is the church? Each episode features a fun story-line with Theo (our animated theologigan) and his friends that serves as an illustration to the Bible passage and/or doctrine at hand. My children love to watch Theo (and so do I)!
SEEDS OF FAITH CDs and DVDs
Produced by: Seeds Family Worship
Why I Love It: Seeds of Faith puts Scripture to songs for children and families. To learn a Seeds of Faith song is to memorize a Scripture passage. The songs are well-done and fun to sing along with and/or do silly dances to (and yes, we do this!). But above all, they are effective for memorizing God's Word!
Torchlighters Series: Children's Heroes from Church History
The above clip is a promo for Torchlighters: The Perpetua Story
Produced By: Christian History Institute
Why I Love It: The Torchlighters series is a fantastic resource for teaching "church family history" to children. These are animated, true-life stories of Christian heroes retold for young people (some of the stories are intense so parents may want to view them before showing to very young children). Each Torchlighter episode comes with a documentary and other features. You can order individual stories or a box set featuring the tales of some of the following Christians: Augustine, Gladys Aylward, Corrie Ten Boom, William Booth, John Bunyan, Amy Carmichael, Jim Elliot, Eric Liddell, Martin Luther, Samuel Morris, Perpetua, Robert J. Thomas, William Tyndale, John Wesley, and Richard Wurmbrand.