Bible Review: NLV Brave Boys and Courageous Girls

The Bible for Brave Boys and The Bible for Courageous Girls: New Life Version. Barbour, 2020, 944 pages (text size unavailable)

Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 8-10

Recommended for: ages 7-11

The New Life Version, first published in 1969,was developed by missionaries Gleason and Kathryn Ledyard during their ministry to indigenous tribes of northern Canada. Their goal was to put the language of the Bible into a simplified English that beginning English speakers and readers could understand. Standard Bible translations are compiled by groups of language scholars, and I doubt the Ledyards were accomplished linguists, so I’m not sure if it’s correct to call this a translation. What I’ve seen of it seems accurate and faithful to the spirit of the text. At least, I’ve read nothing against it.

This Bible’s chief distinction is that it uses a vocabulary of approximately 850 English words, and sticks to a single meaning of each word throughout. “Great,” for example, can mean good, or simply large. The NLV only uses the word to mean good, avoiding confusion for ESL readers. (See this brief explanation at Bible Hub.) The translation also capitalizes pronouns relating to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit and preserves the original pronoun genders.

A limited vocabulary doesn’t necessarily mean a particular translation is suitable for children. To my knowledge the first children’s editions are these two, marketed to girls and boys. They are reading Bibles rather than study or devotional Bibles. That means no study helps, in-text features, or book introductions. Full-color glossy inserts feature prominent Bible characters (women in the girls’ edition, men in the boys’), in different art styles and varying quality.

If not a first choice for translation, the NLV might be a good version to have for cross-referencing. Adults who are learning English might find it helpful as well.

Overall rating: 3.5 (out of 5)

Also at Redeemed Reader:

Resource: See our post on Bible Translations.

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Janie Cheaney

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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