*Bible Review: ESV Big Picture Bible

The ESV Big Picture Bible for pre-through-primary ages, features over 315 age-appropriate illustrations of unusual perspective and appeal.

ESV Big Picture Bible.  Crossway, 2015, 1375 pages.

Recommended for: ages 5-8*Bible Review: ESV Big Picture Bible

The ESV Big Picture Bible has been out for a few years, but I’m just now catching up.  It’s the full-text edition spinoff of the Big Picture Story Bible, a storybook for preschoolers.  Published a year later, the ESV Big Picture Bible is billed as a transition from storybooks to the real thing.  “Lavishly illustrated” says it all: a total of 315 pictures, about one-third of them carried over from the storybook.  The additional illustrations are scattered throughout the text.  The smaller ones take up about 1/6th of a page, while others cover a full page, a double-spread lower half, and even a few full double-page spreads.

The pictures are the thing: there are no study helps, notes, or book introductions, but at this age illustrations are probably the best study helps, anyway.  I’m a bit squirrelly about Bible story pictures–don’t like them to be cute or cartoony, but these seem just simple and childlike enough (as opposed to childish)*Bible Review: ESV Big Picture Bible.  All the favorite stories are richly represented, often by several illustrations.  Artist Gail Schoonmaker uses different perspectives (such as overhead looking down), to add interest.  She also avoids some clichés.  For example, she finds other ways to represent pre-fall Adam and Eve besides shoving them into bushes!  In one scene they cuddle with various animals at night, Adam’s strong arm covering Eve’s breasts as she leans against him.  In another she’s in the water while he lies on the bank, gazing at her fondly.  Their innocence and wonder is portrayed here better than most representations I’ve seen.  (I might have wished they had been less stereotypically white, though.)  Other pictures show more obscure stories and concepts (such as the Day of Atonement), adding information as well as interest.  There are many pictures of Jesus.

The appendix includes a 45-question catechism to help children (and parents) learn key Bible verses.  The questions are grouped around five major periods of the Bible narrative, titled God Creates His Kingdom, God Begins His Promise, God Continues His Promise, Jesus Fulfills God’s Promise, and God Completes His Promise.  All the questions are answered with Bible verses.  For example, #33 Q: Who is the only way to God?  A: Jesus said . . . “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6.  Completing this catechism, which is not beyond the capacity of a five year-old, would build a firm foundation of scriptural testimony to build on.

The text is arranged in two columns with a 9-point font: a good reading size for adults, though a bit small for preschoolers.  But they’ll enjoy the pictures!

Overall rating: 5 (out of 5)

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*Bible Review: ESV Big Picture Bible


Janie is the VERY senior staff writer for Redeemed Reader, as well as a long-time contributor to WORLD Magazine and an author of nine books for children. The rest of the time she's long-distance smooching on her four grandchildren (not an easy task). She lives with her equally senior husband of almost-fifty years in the Ozarks of Missouri.

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