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March 30, 2014

The Catholic Children’s Bible

by Mary Harwell Sayler with Bible Reviewer

The Catholic Children’s Bible is bright, blessed, and big! Its very size encourages parents, teachers, and other loving adults to interact with children as they read the Good News Translation (GNT) and the 125 stories featured throughout the text. 

For example, in the story “Joseph Forgives His Brothers,” children learn to “Understand It!” as they hear how Joseph “could have tried to get even by hurting his brothers. He could have refused to talk to his brothers. Instead, Joseph hugged his brothers.” The application of that story ends by saying “Not forgiving people is like carrying a heavy burden or load. It weighs us down and makes us very sad.”

The story “God Helps Joshua Defeat Jericho” focuses on another biblical principle: our need to trust God. Then the “Live It!” section reminds readers that “The Israelites obeyed God because they had learned to trust him.” Children are then asked to “Finish these sentences to make your own prayer about trusting and obeying God" by completing the blanks in “Dear God, I trust that you will ______. I will obey you by ______. Thank you, loving Father, for always caring for me. Amen.”

Regardless of our age or level of spiritual maturity, none of us completely trusts or obeys God all of the time, and children need to know this. In “We Ask God to Forgive Our Sins,” the “Understand It!” section tells kids “No one is perfect. Everyone sins. When we do something that we know is wrong, we have ugly feelings. We feel sad, guilty, and ashamed for disobeying God. We want to make things right again. So we need God to forgive us.” This section continues to explain the Sacrament of Reconciliation in a child-friendly, insightful, and understandable way.

The stories often aim to help children mature in character and deepen their relationship with God, but these featured stories also reveal God’s power. For example, the “Live It!” section for “Jesus Heals People from Sin and Sickness” lets young readers know that “…Jesus has power to help sick people. You can show sick people the love of Jesus. Think of someone who is sick. Pray that he or she gets better.”

In addition to the Bible text and stories, the back matter includes clear photos, paintings, timelines, and maps to help children envision the times and places. They’ll also find prayers, such as the “Our Father,” to pray and “Bible Passages for Special Times,” such as “When you are feeling happy” or “When someone has hurt you.”

Throughout this edition, a color tag on the outer edges of each book of the Bible will help readers to find a passage with greater ease. Once there, they’ll find a brief introduction with kids clearly in mind. For example, “The Letter to the Ephesians” begins by saying, “This letter could be called ‘What It Means to Be Christian.’ It begins by recalling what we believe as Christians. God made us his children by sending Jesus Christ to free us from sin. We, who believe in Jesus receive the Holy Spirit. Now we are one people united with Christ. We are all part of his body, the Church.”

Amen and amen.