Sharing the Bible with my kids means inducting them into a particular community of interpretation. An essential tool for this is a children’s Bible — a collection of the stories our community deems central, arranged and interconnected in ways that communicate what we think the overall story is. My interpretive community (which includes what’s sometimes called “Emergence Christianity“) has not yet produced any children’s Bibles, so it’s hard to find one that doesn’t covertly promote agendas I oppose (religious violence, imperialism, sexism, moralism, deism, etc.). This tells me two things:
- The children’s writers among us need to get busy working on this.
- I need temporary solutions in the meantime, because my kids are growing fast.
I need children’s Bibles that tell a decent subset of the stories in the Bible, tells them with a minimal agenda overlay, and in a way that is easy and fun enough that my kids can read it by themselves.
For these purposes, I have been pleased with The Manga Bible series, published by Zondervan:
First, it’s manga, so there’s a geek factor that flies with my particular kids. The stories are told with a wry sense of humor that sullen Gen-X-ers like me will appreciate. Violent stories like in Joshua are told without much cheerleading, which I appreciated. My kids understand how comic books work: Good-guy-meets-bad-guy-and-kicks-his-ass. Letting them read Joshua is as okay as letting them read Batman. We may need to have a family conversation about it afterward, but I do want them reading it. I want them learning what Walter Brueggemann taught me — the skill of temporarily quieting my inner liberal judge and letting the Bible say what it wants to say.
My 12-year-old devoured The Manga Bible books, and my 9-year-old happily started reading them once I bribed him with ice cream. The end result is that now my kids are gaining a basic knowledge of what are usually considered the major stories. It’s not a perfect solution, but they are starting to absorb the biblical vocabulary they will need for future training in thinking theologically.
Check them out, and let us know how they work for you:
1: Names, Games, and the Long Road Trip (Genesis, Exodus)
2: Walls, Brawls, and the Great Rebellion (Numbers, Joshua, Judges, Ruth)
3: Fights, Flights, and the Chosen Ones (First and Second Samuel)
4: Traitors, Kings, and the Big Break (First Kings, Second Kings)
5: Prophets, Captives, and the Kingdom Rebuilt (Jonah, Esther, Ezekiel, Daniel, Job, Ezra/Nehemiah, Psalms)
6: Parables, Miracles, and the Prince of Peace (The Gospel, Part 1)
7: Death, Resurrection, and the Great Commission (The Gospel, Part 2; Acts, Part 1)
8: Trips, Ships, and the Ultimate Vision (Acts, Part 2- Revelation)