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UPDATED FOR 2021
I’ve written a lot on this blog about how crazy our family is, especially when it comes to our noisy family devotions. Pretty much all the spiritual nurturing we do for our kids is full of chaos, mess and clutter!
I say this not because I’m proud of it, but because I want you to know that family life doesn’t have to be perfect in order to point our kids to Jesus.
In fact, without trying to style our family to be particularly messy (as if they needed any encouragement…), I’d say that the beauty and perfection of Jesus can often be seen more clearly when our own family life is a bit, well, haphazard.
In all the busyness, though, one thing I’m super-keen on is that we make sure we have awesome resources for helping our kids in their walk with Jesus. Yes, our dining room may be full of half-finished craft projects, stacks of school books, piles of my work and so on – but there’s also a shelf full of family devotional resources, journals and Bibles.
Which brings me nicely to the point of this blog post: What is the best children’s Bible around?
Because with a slightly more expensive and weightier purchase like a Bible, us parents really don’t want to get it wrong. And if you’re a godparent, or a praying aunt/uncle/grandparent, a Bible makes a brilliant gift for a child or teen – but, again, it’s a hefty purchase only to discover you’ve pitched it wrong.
There’s no exact science to it, of course, but over the years, my family has tried out a fair few different Bibles, and it’s this ‘tried-and-tested’ approach that I share with you here.
I’m planning to keep updating this post, to make sure it always stays relevant so here are my picks for 2020:
Best toddler Bibles (0-4)
Let’s start at the very beginning, shall we? Here are my recommendations of the best baby and toddler Bibles available right now.
This is a beautiful, sturdy board book for babies and toddlers. Young babies will be able to absorb the gorgeous black and white images, while each story has enough text to keep an older toddler/preschooler captivated. I’ve bought this for a couple of baptisms as it makes a great gift!
(And if you’re searching for baptism, check out my other baptism gift ideas here.)
Even Bibles designed for toddlers and pre-schoolers are often far too wordy, so this offering from Lion is refreshing. It’s hardback but not a board book, so you’ll have to be a little careful with young hands prone to ripping pages (ahem…not that my kids ever did this…ahem).
But otherwise, you can use this with young toddlers and even babies. Each story is cleverly condensed to 2-4 (small) pages, with colourful illustrations on each page to keep little minds engaged.
I love the brevity of this: only the bare facts are included, with plenty of scope for expanding the stories as a child’s attention span grows.
This chunky board book tells 15 short Bible stories with bright, engaging illustrations.
None of us particularly found the ‘laugh’ part of ‘laugh and grow’ to be true, but the stories are certainly told with Phil Vischer’s relaxed, informal style which is easy to read. (Vischer is the creator of Veggie Tales and What’s in the Bible – both of which are excellent to follow this book!)
Although we don’t actually own this, we’ve read several of the spin-off Bible story books, and really like them. The images are bright and engaging, while the text is nice and succinct to hold a toddler’s attention. A robust and appealing Bible for very small kids.
This is a wonderful Bible for toddlers, and we’ve used it a lot at church and toddler group, because the stories have been thoughtfully written in an easy-to-understand style for very young children.
I love the unique style of the pictures, which are photos of models/puppets, and we own several of the individual Bible story books which come from this one. In the Big Bible Storybook, each Bible story tends to take just one or two pages, so it’s a good choice for children who can listen to quite a bit of reading before the page turns to a new illustration.
It’s also worth adding that the whole Big Bible Storybook is available as a 6 CD set, and my family have LOVED listening to this on long car journeys in the past!
Best Bibles for preschoolers/early schoolers (4-7)
My son really enjoyed this Bible when he was around 3-5, and we’ve used it since then with his younger siblings.
It features engaging illustrations from Disney animators, short and readable stories (using the fabulous Message translation of the Bible), as well as a question or two to think about at the end of each story. With this feature, you could even use it as a devotional each day.
This is a great book for preschoolers who are starting to be able to listen for a bit longer. The stories are more wordy and in depth, but there are still illustrations on every page.
The selling point about this Bible is that, instead of being a collection of seemingly unrelated Bible stories (like toddler Bibles tend to be), it draws them all together in the one overarching narrative of salvation. In this way, the story of Jesus coming ‘to the rescue’ becomes more clear to a young child who is starting to be able to understand what this means personally for them.
(Note: the Jesus Storybook Bible – featured next – also has this element of pulling together Bible stories into one seamless narrative. If I’m honest, I prefer the JSB. But The Big Picture Story Bible is shorter and perhaps easier for a slightly younger child. So if you weren’t sure whether your child was quite ready for the JSB, then the BPSB would be an excellent choice!)
I love love LOVE this Bible! And it seems that everyone else does too, because it’s rare to enter a Christian home that doesn’t own a copy!
What makes it so good? First, the language is beautiful. Sally Lloyd-Jones tells each Bible story faithfully to the original text, but using creative and insightful phrasing to help children understand exactly what’s going on. (Let’s face it, some parts of the Bible are tricky even for adults to get their heads round.)
Second, Jago’s illustrations are wonderful. I could stare at them for a long time! I think it took him a year to illustrate this book, and I’m not surprised – each page is richly illustrated.
Thirdly – as mentioned above – the JSB tells the one, unifying story of our sing and God’s salvation of us through Jesus. Each Old Testament story points to the coming Messiah, so that when Jesus is finally born, it feels like we all let out a huge sigh of relief! It really clearly tells kids what our faith is about. And for this reason, I’d recommend reading it all through, perhaps a chapter a night, rather than dipping in.
In my experience, this is a great book for 4/5 year olds upwards. (My 5 year old twins loved hearing a chapter a night recently.) Older children can get a lot from it – and so can adults. In fact, last Christmas my vicar husband chose to use a passage from this Bible in our carol service, because it’s such a beautiful and vivid translation.
(And I used an extract in my Advent devotional, Redeeming Advent! Can you tell we love it? If you asked me what is the best children’s Bible of all time, this would be my answer!)
You can also get the whole of the JSB on four DVDs, narrated by the wonderful David Suchet!
This is an awesome Bible in every way, and is a great ‘next step’ for younger children who have read The Jesus Storybook Bible.
In a very similar way to his popular video series ‘What’s in the Bible?’, Phil Vischer not only retells Bible stories in an engaging way (for kids and adults alike), but includes explanations of tricky cultural aspects, succinct discussions of difficult questions (like “Why do we still follow some of the laws in Leviticus and not others?”) and devotional pages following each story.
I’ve used this as a bedtime devotional with Monkey and Meerkat (6) and it works well: a story, a life lesson, a question or two to check understanding and application of the story, and a prayer. The clear layout makes it easy for young readers to join in by reading the questions/prayer themselves – our boys really enjoy doing that!
Recently re-released, The Lion Storyteller Bible makes a beautiful gift. With over 70 Bible stories told in Bob Hartman’s inimitable style (including many lesser-known stories – although sadly not Deborah and Jael!), the Lion Storyteller Bible is a great read-aloud for children of different ages.
We have used it with our kids (aged 6, 6, 9, 11) and it has worked well. It would also be suitable for use in a Sunday school group or primary classroom. The pictures are engaging and thought-provoking, but with one story condensed to a double-page spread, this is definitely a book for children who can absorb a story without frequent changes of page/illustration.
Like the Lion Storyteller Bible, this makes a great read-aloud, especially if you’re reading to children of different ages, with one big difference: it’s designed as more of a family devotional/discussion.
40 of the original 75 stories are shared in this book, each of them expanded to a four-page spread, with the illustrations split up accordingly, and extra sections inserted. These take the form of introductions in the voice of each character, discussion questions inserted throughout the story to keep children engaged and thinking, and a longer discussion activity at the end of each story, featuring questions, further Bible reading and prayer ideas.
We used this Bible for some of our Jesse Tree readings at Advent, and it worked really well. We never did all the questions – there is a lot of material if you do it all thoroughly – but just picking one or two helped our shattered minds to initiate discussion with our children.
Best children’s Bibles (7-12)
Round about the age of 7 or 8, your child will probably be ready for their first ‘full’ Bible – i.e. not simply an abridged collection of Bible stories, but the full Bible, in easy-to-understand language. Here are my recommendations for 2020.
Did anyone else grow up in the 80s with a rainbow-covered Good News Bible?!
Well, the ICB is its modern equivalent. It has a brightly illustrated cover, several colour plates throughout the Bible, and is a nice, easily understood translation of the whole Bible.
Its selling point is that it is its own translation – in other words, it has been specifically translated for children (whilst not dumbing down in any way). Other children’s Bibles use pre-existing, adult translations, so ICB is really a cut above the rest in this regard.
You’ll also find maps, helpful verses, a dictionary and an index to help you and your child unpack the context of God’s word even more. It’s a great first Bible for a child who is starting to read it for themselves or needing a Bible to take with them to Sunday school or camp.
If your child isn’t too hot on reading, but enjoys manga-style comics and magazines, The Action Bible is well worth a look!
I’ll be honest and say that, although my 10 year old has had this Bible for 2-3 years, he’s never really taken to it. However, so many friends swear by this Bible (are you even allowed to do that??) that it’s been great for their kids.
As its name would suggest, it focuses on the exciting action of the Bible, so its quick pace really suits a lot of kids who perhaps get bored with all the ‘in between’ of the Bible – and yet, while obviously abridged, it does go through the Bible from start to finish, picking out some of the lesser-known stories along the way.
A great way in for a child who’s a little disillusioned with faith and needs rejuvenating!
I love this Bible! It’s really thorough, contains loads of lesser-known Bible stories (including Deborah and Jael, my faves!), Bob Hartman’s explanations are really clear and the illustrated text (similar to Tom Gates/Diary of a Disciple) makes it super fun to read aloud together, or for an older child to read to themselves.
We’ve used this on Saturday mornings with our brood of age 6-11, and we’ve all enjoyed it – but it would equally work as a bedtime Bible for an individual child.
Interestingly, there are perhaps not as many links made as the title would suggest – but all the other brilliant features make it a worthy purchase. (For properly linked stories, you can’t beat The Jesus Storybook Bible or the Big Picture Story Bible.)
Listen, I know I’ve just said the the ICB trumps this one – and I mean that. But also, if you have an old Good News Bible kicking around at home, it’s still a decent, clear translation and great for kids.
Put it this way: it never did me any harm! (Although you may like to be the judge of that.)
This particular edition is designed for kids, with a bright colour, and lots of useful information inside to help a 6-12 year old (roughly) start reading the Bible, as well as 40 key passages which will help them understand the overall story of salvation.
Before you throw up, let me explain. We like to buy our kids small faith-nurturing gifts at the start of Lent, and when our oldest two turned 7, we decided it was time for an unabridged Bible.
Our son got the ICB, but when it came to our daughter two years later, we didn’t think we could get her the same. Firstly, they shared a room at that point, so it would have got a little confusing. And secondly, well – she’s a different person!
It was actually my husband who found this Bible, and I thought he was joking, but he reminded me that our ‘girly’ girl would probably love it – and, 18 months later, he’s right!
It comes in a lovely presentation case, and is made in imitation leather, so feels really special (it would make a lovely baptism gift for an older girl). The translation is the NLT – again, a good and clear translation – and there are lots of helpful additional extras, like prayers, lists of God’s promises, and even a feature of 10 Biblical girls! (Which gets the thumbs-up in my book.)
Our daughter treasures this Bible, and – at nearly 9 – is able to read it confidently.
OK, so this isn’t a whole Bible, which maybe means I’m cheating a little.
But I’m all about finding the best way in for our kids to access God’s word for them – and I know from experience that sometimes just straight reading of the Bible doesn’t cut it for them.
Diary of a Disciple – Luke’s story is basically the gospel of Luke, told in the illustrated-text style of Tom Gates books. It’s a great choice for children aged 7-11 who love reading (or being read to) as it’s fast-paced and fun, although able to stop every now and again to explain a tricky word, name or theological term.
Diary of a Disciple – Peter and Paul’s Story is the book of Acts, done in exactly the same way. My 10 year old has had both read to him as bedtime stories and was really engaged.
Best Bibles for teens
Listen, folks, this ain’t cheap – but it’s a good investment for a Christian teen, and would make a super baptism/confirmation/birthday present. Brand new for 2020, I’m really impressed with what The Good Book Company has done.
Let’s start with how it looks (which is really important for teens): it has a well-designed, attractive cover, is produced in solid hardback, and features a yellow elastic ‘hold-all’.
Inside, the text is a good size, easy to read NIV translation, with wide margins for note-taking, doodling, prayer ideas and more. I love the large Bible verses designed for colouring, and the journal ideas.
A super-helpful feature is the ‘Big Bible Story Reading Plan’ – a 21-day Bible reading guide which takes teens through the big story of the Bible. For each passage there is a reflection, some questions and prayer ideas.
In addition, there are helpful tips on how to read the Bible, articles on all kinds of issues such as the environment, self-harm and sexuality, apologetics-type questions, and ‘real lives’, featuring persecuted Christians, slavery and missionary life.
I honestly can’t recommend this Bible enough for a teen, and can’t wait to give it to my son!
Produced by The Bible Society, the emphasis of this fabulous youth Bible is on resourcing teens to get the most from their Bible, with handy guides at the beginning on the books of the Bible, how to read it, how the Bible came together and more. With space for users to write and draw, it’s very much designed to make Bible reading an interactive process for teens.
I love the Bible timeline/ overview at the start – and, like the Engage Bible, there are suggestions for short-term devotionals too. Another similarity is the wide margins for doodling/journalling, with occasional explanatory notes on the text, or doodling prompts.
Each book is preceded with a concise ‘What you need to know’ and ‘Why read it?’ section, which is brilliant for helping teens deepen their contextual understanding as they read God’s Word.
This is the youth Bible I had as a teen in the 90s! It has a different cover now, but don’t be deceived: it’s the same excellent and accessible Bible for teens that many of you growing up at the same time as me will have had.
Here’s a pic of my ancient copy, just to jog your memory…
Ah! Now you know which one I’m talking about, don’t you?!
I used to love reading the real life stories, as well as the articles on different topics of interest. It was great to get some input into what the Bible said about certain things, plus the helpful maps and diagrams helped to add context to what I was reading.
This is still the bestselling Bible for teens in the UK – and for good reason! It’s also a great budget option, especially if the Engage youth bible is out of price range.
(PS If you’ve come here searching for a suitable baptism gift for an older child or teen, I have some more ideas in this blog post – just click that link!)
So there are my recommendations in answer to what is the best children’s Bible currently available.
But I also wanted to answer a few specific questions which people ask. So, if you’ve already found the info you wanted, go ahead and start browsing those links! Otherwise, keep reading for a bit more of a deep-dive.
What Bible version is good for kids?
I’d always recommend the International Children’s Bible translation as a starter, but other good and clear translations include the Good News, ESV (English Standard Version – here’s the kids’ edition) or the NLT (New Living Translation – as seen in the My Beautiful Princess bible).
What is the best children’s Bible for a 6 year old?
This is something people ask a lot, and I think it’s because, in terms of Bibles, six can be a tricky age. Toddler/preschooler Bibles may seem too young, while most six year olds are not yet independently reading to the level of one of the older children’s Bibles.
So I would say this: the Jesus Storybook Bible really is a great choice for children up to 7, 8, 9, 10…adult! It does depend on the child, but if you have a 6 year old, you’re certainly not going to waste your money if you buy the JSB.
If, however, this feels too young for your child, go ahead and buy them the International Children’s Bible, which is the current ‘favourite’ for 7-11s.
Focus on reading small sections to them (unless your 6 year old is an excellent reader and can cope with the small text themselves) – but keep these sections short so that your child stays attentive and interested. Pairing this with a daily Bible devotional such as XTB would also be a great option for this age.
What is the best Bible for ages 9-12?
Again, I would say that the answer to this really depends on your child. For most 9-12 year olds, I would recommend the International Children’s Bible – it’s a great translation for tweens and even teens.
But if your child is 11 or 12, then the days of them being happy to carry around a Bible with the word ‘children’ emblazoned on the front are probably numbered, so I’d recommend the Engage NIV Youth Bible as a great choice to take them into their teens.
A word of warning: although children don’t ever want to be patronised by being bought something perceived for someone younger than them, it can also be problematic to buy something too soon.
Buying a youth Bible for a 10 year old, for example, may mean that they outgrow it sooner, creating problems when they hit 13 or 14 and no longer want to read their Bible, but won’t engage yet with an adult Bible. So time it carefully!
What is the best Bible for a 13 year old boy?
Ah yes – tricky beasts, aren’t they?!
Hands-down, my top recommendation would be for the Engage Youth Bible. But, depending on emotional age/maturity, a 13 year old boy might also really enjoy the Action Bible, Diary of a Disciple books or even the Minecraft Bible – which I haven’t seen myself, but have heard good things about!
I hope this has helped in your search for what is the best children’s Bible to get for your child. Any questions? Please comment below and I’ll do my very best to get back to you quickly!
P.S. Looking for resources for family devotions? I’ve got you covered with my Top 10 Family Devotional resources.
P.P.S. Struggling with your own Bible time as a parent? Yep, I’ve been there!