God’s Word for Boys and God’s Word for Girls. Larry Richards, general editor. Baker, 2014 (latest edition), 1713 pages.
Bottom Line: Though not the best translation for accuracy, this God’s Word edition for children has some outstanding introductory features.
This is the children’s Bible format of the God’s Word Translation, translated by scholars associated with the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. The targeted age group is 7-12 years, but the font is only 8-point—I would suggest larger. The translation is easy to read, but like most versions that trade accuracy for supposed simplicity, it comes with a few drawbacks you might want to consider. (See our post on Bible translations and scroll almost to the end.)
God’s Word for Boys (the “for Girls” edition has exactly the same content, just a different color scheme) has some unique features, starting on the very first pages: the books of the Bible are listed first in traditional order, then in alphabetical order. This can be a big help for kids who are just learning their Matthew-Mark-Luke-and-John. Rather than an abundance of in-text notes, which can be distracting, the editors include more material in the book introductions, which can run three pages long. These are very kid-friendly: each intro includes 3-5 “Headlines” (catchy titles for the main stories or themes), “What’s in It for Me?” application questions, review questions to answer, related family games or activities, and puzzles or riddles to be solved from the text. Examples of headline titles for Genesis include “Water, Water Everywhere,” “Esau’s In a Stew,” and “Ex-Con Rules Egypt”—some parents might see them as slightly irreverent, but they do raise interest.
Paging through the text itself, we find application notes in boxes titled, “Be All You Can Be,” short devotionals (“Good Morning, God”) with a brief meditation and prayer, “Men’s World” (or “Women’s World”) with information on Bible life and times, and maps. This is all standard in youth study Bibles, but the two-page character sketches are unique. These include line illustrations, “getting to know” facts, and questions about the character, all helpful for review. Full-color illustrations bound into the pages may not appear where the story actually occurs in the text so the scripture passage is included on the back of each illustration. These pictures are cartoonish, but not goofy. Not exceptional, either—and the line drawings on the character spreads look like they were produced on a dot-matrix printer. (Maybe they were, in which case it’s time to update.)
For the age group, this is a good introduction to the Bible with age-appropriate features. Not the best choice for memorizing, though.
Categories: Middle Grades, Christian Bibles, Bible Stories
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