Since I am a little hyper on researching things, I thought that I'd share our experience by reviewing the Bible we selected: the NKJV Adventure Bible.
First, a little about my son. He is very advanced in his reading skills, so though he was in first grade, he probably read at least a 4th-grade level. However, he is still a second grader, so he wanted lots of color, pictures, and explanations. He also wanted it to look interesting.
Now, my husband and I had some ideas of what we thought he should have as well. We wanted a literal translation of the Bible, not a paraphrase. Study notes or explanations was also something we were looking for.
Choosing a TranslationClick here for an awesome guide to different Bible translations.
My husband and I both grew up with King James Bibles (a literal translation). Through my teen years, I used a New International Version (a dynamic translation). When I studied at Cairn University (then Philadelphia College of Bible), I used a Scofield New American Standard Bible. Since I used so many different translations, my Bible memory is a mess with Bible verses that were mosaics of different translations. I was hoping to pick a translation for my son that my son won't have to change in a few years. If he was younger or had more trouble reading, we may had chosen the NIrV for early readers, but he was advanced enough to read a more difficult translation and preferred a translation that he would grow into rather than one that he would grow out of.
Both my husband and I prefer literal translations. As Paul states in Galatians 3:16, even whether a word is singular or plural is important. However, we agreed that King James is just too difficult. With its 12th-grade reading level and archaic language, it is not easy for a child to understand. Unfortunately, NAS isn't much better with its 11th-grade reading level. The options for literal translations that were at lower reading levels were English Standard Version and the New King James Version, which are both about 8th-grade reading levels.
Choosing a Children's BibleI began looking at children's Bibles online. We looked at the NKJV Fire Bible, but my son wasn't thrilled with the look. I know that is superficial, but he won't read it if he isn't excited about it. We also looked at the NKJV Study Bible for Kids. It looked closer to our expectations, but seemed a little too old for him. I would definitely consider it for an 8-12-year-old. The Adventure Bible seemed similar but more geared to my son's age (It also says 8-12 but the jungle theme just made it look more interesting for my 7-year-old). It had color on every page, book introductions, little boxes with explanations about the passages, and even a concordance. Since it came in NKJV, it was exactly what we were looking for.
What we like about the Adventure BibleMy son's favorite thing about the Adventure Bible is the full color. When I mentioned that I was reviewing his Bible, his first comment was about the color.
He also loves the boxes with explanations, especially the "Life in Bible Times" sections. Amazingly, there are very few pages without one of the full-color sections. These help my son understand so many things about the Bible and help keep him interested. The different sections included in the Adventure Bible are:
- "Life in Bible Times" - explains life in ancient times
- "People in Bible Times" - discusses more in depth about Bible characters
- "Did You Know?" - provides neat facts
- "Let's Live It!" - helps kids apply what they are learning
- "Words to Treasure" - good verses to memorize
I like the book introductions.
Having a concordance is also helpful. I wanted to show him to use one anyway.
It even has a subject index for the notes.
The maps are always fun and much enjoyed by kids.
Also, the 20 special pages are great, highlighting important Bible passages or lists.
One thing I missed in the Adventure Bible, was cross-references. I think it is very helpful to look at cross-references to find what other verses say about a topic. However, this is something that is not really available in children's Bibles. It seems they are not added until teen Bibles. While I understand why they don't include them, I wish they were in there for me to teach my son about them.
How the Adventure Bible could be improved
Also, after more than a year of a lot of use, the binding of the hardcover NKJV Adventure Bible is wearing some in the corner. It is still definitely usable and not going to fall completely apart. Maybe I should have chosen the imitation leather cover for it to hold it better. However, it is good to see that my son uses it enough to be causing some wear.
Also, the hardcover Adventure Bible cover seems to be more for boys. I could definitely see girls being interested in its content, but they might not be as excited as boys with how it looked. They do have an imitation leather version in pink and in blue.
Bottom LineWhile there may be other children's Bibles that would work for this age, I do not hesitate to recommend the NKJV Adventure Bible. As I said, if you are buying it for a girl, they would probably prefer the pink imitation leather look over the hardcover.
NKJV Adventure Bible
If your child is younger or struggles with reading, the NIrV Adventure Bible for Early Readers may be just the thing. However, I would recommend getting a literal translation once your child is able to understand it.
NIrV Adventure Bible for Early Readers
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