The ESV Children’s Bible is not a story Bible like The Jesus Storybook Bible or The Big Picture Story Bible. It’s a little more like a study Bible for kids, although there aren’t notes on every page (which is probably good, since kids don’t need much help being distracted from reading!). It includes the entire text of the ESV, illustrations every few pages with additional related Scripture references, and a brief introduction to each book. The illustrations look pretty realistic (Jesus doesn’t look American, for instance) and don’t seem to me to trivialize the text. The captions and introductions emphasize that the Bible is a book about who God is and what he does.
But what really sets this Bible apart are the study materials at the beginning and end, which are adapted from materials developed by Children Desiring God, the children’s ministry of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis (where John Piper serves as pastor). As you would expect from Desiring God, these are excellent. Here are some of the topics covered:
- The Bible, God’s Message to Us
- What the Bible Says About Itself
- About the ESV (in kid-friendly terms!)
- Who is God? What Is God Like?
- God Makes Himself Known (creation, conscience, Bible, Jesus)
- God Chooses a People for Himself (Abrahamic covenant)
- The Ten Commandments (and how they show us our sin)
- The Gospel of Jesus
- The Promises of God
- Go Into All the World
As you can see, this is more than you usually get in a resource for kids (there’s even a dictionary at the end). And it’s all very well-done-adults could stand to read through it as well! It’s great practice for beginning readers, and I would guess that by about 7-8 kids could begin to read & understand a lot of the supplemental stuff by themselves. Most of all, this edition does a great job of pointing to the Bible itself-it’s not gimmicky or cheesy. Setting the supplemental stuff apart from the text of the Bible helps underscore this. The Word of God is powerful and effective, and this is a great way to train young children to study it and take it to heart.