Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Book Review: 100 Bible Stories, 100 Bible Songs

My next book review for the Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers program is 100 Bible Stories, 100 Bible Songs. The stories are crafted by Stephen Elkins, with illustrations by Tim O'Connor. Here's the cover:

So, what about it?

From my perspective, as a parent and a pastor: It's a children's Bible story book. It's not a Bible. Given that, the stories will be shortened and simplified. Some of the facts will be omitted, some glossed over. One example that a different reviewer pointed out is the book refers to Moses being happy when he saw the people march into the Promised Land. Well, if you read the Bible, you know Moses has died before the Israelites enter the Promised Land. I don't take it as a mistake, rather that the writer assumes that Moses sees what's happening from heaven and is happy. This is, of course, assumption on the writer's part, and assumption on my part that the writer thinks this. However, it's a child's Bible story book. So, there are some shortcomings with the details. If you want all the details, use an actual Bible. Which is where I found a strength in this book: Each Bible story has the foundational passage cited at the beginning. That shows me two things. One: the author used a Bible to generate the stories. You might think that's a given, but some Bible story books honestly read like they have been written from memory. Second, it shows that the author wants you to refer to the actual story. I think this works well for a read-to, read-yourself situation. Read the Bible passage to your child, then let them read the storybook part.

On the music, I'll just say it's children's music. It's one of the reasons I am so grateful to own an iPod, because I can import these 100 songs, put them in a mix, and not have to listen to them constantly. The singing is good. There are no dominant personalities involved, which for some kids may be a problem. My 5-year-old doesn't mind, but my 2-year-old is a VeggieTales fanatic, and was disappointed not to hear Bob and Larry. He got over it, and did enjoy the music. My 8-year-old daughter was excited to hear a few familiar songs that she's heard at various children's activities over the years but that we didn't have. All in all, the music is acceptable children's fare.

From a child's perspective: My 8-year-old daughter wasn't overly impressed with this book, but she's been reading from a real Bible for over a year now. She thought the illustrations were cute, but she's currently 8 and going on 'grown-up' so they were little kid-like for her. Note, though, that when her kid sister wasn't looking and she thought Mom and Dad weren't looking, she slipped off to her bedroom to read the rest of the book.

The 5-year-old daughter really likes it, and is upset that I have this book with me at the office today and she can't read it. The short stories work for her, because she grabs a book anytime she can, and no matter how much time she has to read, she doesn't have to stop in the middle of a story. She has read through the whole book at least twice, and thinks the illustrations are funny.

The 2-year-old son has enjoyed having the 5-year-old daughter read it to him, and has enjoyed the music after he got over it not having VeggieTales. I guess we've created a Veggie monster in him, but he'll be ok.

One final note: this book has been in my house nearly a month (slow on the review). It has survived 3 kids, 2 cats, and me tripping over it in the night. So, the printing/binding seems very durable.

I'd rate this a good buy for a family, and an excellent value for a church nursery.

(reminder: I got this for free as a member of Thomas Nelson's Book review bloggers. Click the link to join up. Book is free, all they want is an honest review.)

I review for Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers

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