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The Lion First Bible / My Very Own Bible

The Lion First Bible
By Pat Alexander with pictures by Leon Baxter
Publisher: Lion Children’s

My Very Own Bible
Retold by Lois Rock, Illustrated by Carolyn Cox
Publisher: Lion Children’s

After both previewing each book, we came to the conclusion that they appear to be aimed at different age-groups and perhaps with different purposes.

The Lion First Bible is aimed at younger children – the language is mostly simple and every page has a colour picture. The pictures are simple but effective in portraying the scene – detail, colour and shading are used in such a way so as to not make the pictures too complex.

While it would be possible to produce a complete Bible for children, the emphasis here (and in fact, both books) has been on the selection of stories that would help teach children about God at a level that they could begin to engage with.

The stories range from Genesis to Revelation and predominantly use words and concepts that very young readers could relate to, while still allowing for the keeping of some of the more challenging words – as points of discussion and connections for moving into the “real” Biblical text. In this, the translator/author sees this book as a step on the way to engaging with the ‘adult text’.

This book has beautiful presentation – a padded cover, gold-edged pages and an attached ribbon bookmark – and could be enjoyed by parents/care-givers (as the readers) and very young children as they explored the stories together, or by older children on their own as they become more competent in reading for themselves.

My Very Own Bible is also children-sized, with a padded cover. The pages are thicker than the other book, it feels more ‘robust’ (good for children handling on their own) and it contains fewer stories. The stories contain more words and details with fewer pictures. The illustrations are more complex in design and colour and have a ‘dynamic’ feel about them, which adds to the beautiful presentation of the book.

The stories chosen from the Old Testament are some of the more well-known and ‘popular’ stories (eg. Noah, Joseph, David, Daniel). The New Testament stories are from the Gospels and just the ascension and Pentecost from Acts. While the stories contain more detail, the language is still aimed at children.

This book could be still read to children or could be read by children on their own, although they would need to be more competent to read this one on their own – the presentation of the book, language, less pictures, etc would be aimed at older children.

Neither book ‘dips into’ the Psalms (which is a little surprising, given the wealth of imagery) or pays much attention to the prophets (which is less surprising), as well as leaving other books and stories for later years.

We would certainly recommend both books to parents or others caring for young and primary-school-age children. Both would make great presents and would provide adults and children (or even older siblings) opportunities to share and grow in faith in God.

Reviewed by Mel Perkins (Minister Intern – Trinity Wilston Uniting Church and Young Families Minister, Aspley Uniting Church) with Glenda Donaldson (Director – Aspley Early Childhood Education Centre, a ministry of Aspley Uniting Church)