“The Story for Little Ones” Misses the Mark

Here is the latest review from my blog on children’s books, The Children’s Hour:

The Story for Little Ones: Discover the Bible in Pictures

(Zonderkidz, 2011), hb.
Ages 3-5
Recently I received a review copy of this book along with some other materials related to Zondervan’s The Story project, an effort to help people see the overarching story of Scripture. I was pleased to see another effort aimed at helping people move beyond disconnected Bible stories to seeing how the Bible fits together as one major story of God’s work of creating a people for himself. And this initiative has books for little children, children, teens and adults. This is a good idea.
However, The Story for Little Ones is a disappointment, and I cannot recommend it. I decided to just jump in and begin reading it to my four and five year old children one evening. What immediately jumped out to me was that the story of the Fall was completely skipped. Of course in a summary of the Bible you have to pick which stories to include and which to leave out, but how can you leave out the Fall! This is one of the major movements of the entire story- Creation, Fall, Redemption, New Creation. After a happy creation, the story moves simply to God calling Abraham, “a good man who trusted God.” The burden of that story is Abraham trusting God to being him to a new place. There is no hint of sin, covenant, etc. In fact most of the Old Testament ends up as moralisms about being good without the dimension of our need of rescue from sin. Here is a sample of the bolded conclusions of each story which state the main lessons:
“Abraham trusted God. You can trust God too.”
“God gave these rules to help his people live good lives and be closer to him. God’s rules will help you too.”
“God had Rahab help his people. You can be a helper too.”
“Samson asked God to help him. You can ask God for help too.”
“Ruth was kind to Naomi, and Boaz was kind to Ruth. God smiles when you are kind.”
“Nehemiah knew God was on his side. God is on your side too.”
In the New Testament there is improvement with it being clearly stated that Jesus came to save people “from their sins.” However, the lesson from Jesus’ baptism is “God’s power shows through Jesus. God’s power works in your life too.”
If you are looking, as I am, for resources to help your children grasp the overall story of God’s work of salvation, to grasp the heart of the Bible’s message, to point them to their need for Christ, this is not a great resource.
The next step up book, The Story for Children, a Storybook Bible looks to be much better- I noticed the fall is clearly dealt with. I have not had the opportunity to read more of it yet, though. I will plan to post more on it in the future.

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