Bible for Emerging Kids ages 8-12

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:

  1. The children’s writers among us need to get busy working on this.
  2. 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:

manga-names manga-walls manga-fights manga-traitors manga-prophets manga-parables manga-death manga-trips

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)

Have you found other children’s Bibles that work well for your family?


  1. john says:

    I have the same question! We have been looking for a children’s Bible for our (younger: 6, 4, and 2) kids, and haven’t found much. I like the overall approach of the Jesus Storybook Bible, but it overtly pushes a penal substitutionary view of the atonement (among other relatively disturbing things). My kids are already over-familiar with ancient Roman torture practices due to their traditional Sunday schools, but I’d like to find something more age-appropriate and closer to us theologically. Any ideas for younger kids?

    1. Sadly, the Jesus Storybook Bible is the best I’ve found for that age group too. I am having ideas to write a children’s Bible of my own, if I can find a good illustrator. For now, my best solution is to just read the actual Bible to them, and then say “What do you think about that?”

      1. After reading about Abraham sacrificing Isaac, I got to hear my kid say “If that’s what Abraham thinks about God, then Abraham’s full of crap.”

    2. Sandra Rivas says:

      That is the best Children’s Bible I have found for younger kids, too. My kids are 4 and 1. They enjoy it, but I do agree that I wish there was a better option.

  2. jan Sambrook says:

    My kids are now 15, 12 and 9, and having read a selection of Bible story books over the years, I think my favourite was the Egermeier’s Bible Story book. It had all the main stories and lots of others too. Pictures were bit cheesy though. Once my children were a bit older I was glad to discover the NIrV (new international readers version) which is like the NIV but with the longer sentences broken up and some of the more difficult words altered. This is my dd2’s favourite one to read as she has some dyslexia. I’ve just bought my son (9) the Adventure Bible – a whole NIV Bible with added bits to make it more appealing specially for boys.

    1. Thx for the recommendation, Jan! I’d not heard of Egermeier’s book; I’ll have to give it a look. The NIrV looks like a helpful resource too!

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