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May 19, 2013

Saint Mary's Press: The Catholic Children's Bible

Stuart's Study: http://stuartsstudy.blogspot.com/

As I am reflecting on what to write for this review, I am reminded of the story of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" and how beds are too soft, too hard, and just right. If you have a child ages 5 to 13, Bibles can start to feel like that too. There are Bibles for toddlers, which have about ten or so stories, but are mostly pictures, so older kids will feel babied. Then there are Bibles for teenagers or adults, which have no pictures and can quickly make your child bored and lose interest. Thankfully, St. Mary's Press has released two Bibles, The Catholic Children's Bible and Breakthrough! The Bible for Young Catholics to fill this void. I will be reviewing The Catholic Children's Bible today.

The Catholic Children's Bible is the first of its kind in that it is a COMPLETE Bible for children. That's right. You get all 73 books. The translation used is the Good News Translation (GNT), which is a more casual and conversational translation. I must admit that I am generally not a fan of the GNT. I feel it waters down powerful phrases in the Bible and makes them sound a bit clunky. One example that is always nails on a chalkboard to me is when they translate Jesus saying, "Amen, Amen I say to you," as "I'm telling you the truth!" The latter just doesn't hold the same gravitas as the former. I would normally ding a Catholic Bible 1 star in a review for using this translation, but for children I believe this translation is acceptable and easier to understand for them.

The first thing I love about this Bible is the color. It's like a rainbow exploded in this Bible, but in a systematic way. On page 15, they organize all the books of the Bible on a bookshelf and color code them into six different sections - the Pentateuch, Historical Books, Wisdom Books, Books of the Prophets, Gospels and Acts, and Letters. I always love this visual representation of the Bible. It helps remind us that the Bible is actually a collection of 73 books of all different literary genres. The same color code used on the bookshelf can then be seen at the bottom of the pages to remind your young one what section of the Bible they are reading.

The feature I really love though is how they highlight important stories. At the beginning of every book of the Bible you will find a list of "Featured Stories." For example, if your child is reading the Bible like they normally would, and they come to a picture of a leaf, they know that this is "Featured Story." Then on the next two pages, the story is highlighted with pictures and extra features. These extra features include keyword definitions, a recap of the story, practical application for their everyday life, and three little pictures so your child can re-tell the story using their own words. I really like that they have to re-tell the story. This not only reinforces it in their memory, but helps them to own it.

If you are serious about your Bible and want your child to be serious as well, then you will want to get this 5 star Bible! There is also an activity book available for purchase to help further reinforce the stories that your children read. I wasn't provided this to review, but looking at the sample pages, they'd be great for both home use and catechist use. The two arms of the Church are Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. We tend to ignore Sacred Scripture, but let's reverse that trend. I encourage you to buy this Bible. Read it to your children. Let your children read it to you. You won't regret it.

To read more reviews from Stuart on The Catholic Children's Bible, please click on the links below.
http://www.amazon.com/review/R1X9DCZ5FIUXDK
http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/618601859