Includes a full review of The Action Bible’s Faith In Action Edition and Read Kaleidoscope Bibles for kids.
Of all the books ever written, the most important one to get in our children’s hands is the Bible.
The other option isn’t much better.
Even so-called “Children’s Bibles” are little more than an adult translation with colorful illustrations. The problem is that these “Children’s Bibles” are written at a high school level, which makes it hard for elementary-school readers to get into the Bible on their own. I’m a big fan of having kids read the actual Bible, but it is indeed at this point that many kids begin to lose interest in spiritual things. 😢
You know there’s so much more to the Bible than your child has experienced, but you also might not feel like your child is ready for a full-text Bible yet. (If you think your child is ready for a full-text Bible, check out this article on the best Bible translation for kids!) Hand a child a full-text Bible when they’re not ready and it’s more likely to become a doorstop than change their heart.
If you’d like to find books that will help your child transition from storybook Bibles into full-text Bibles, I have two reviews for you today: The Action Bible and the Kaleidoscope Bibles for kids!
1. The Faith In Action Edition of The Action Bible
You’re missing out if you haven’t heard of The Action Bible before! This Bible is in graphic novel format, and it is so engaging. If you have a child who is interested in graphic novels, you can’t go wrong with The Action Bible. My sons have been caught reading this at night, on the couch, and even in the bathroom! My kids give this Bible two thumbs up (or two thumbs holding the book open to read it…).
A few years ago, one of my boys asked to read it together so we read through the entire Action Bible at bedtime for the next few months. (and let me tell you, reading a graphic novel aloud is not the easiest thing!) It did, however, give me a great chance to assess whether it was Biblically accurate and doctrinally sound.
Is The Action Bible Biblically accurate?
In my opinion, yes.
Direct Bible quotes are taken from the NIV translation, but most of the action and dialogue are summarized in the graphic novel format. Here’s a page from the book of Daniel where you can see the author (a) summarized the story and (b) gave it some context so kids can understand why Daniel rejected the king’s food. The bit about the food being blessed by Marduk isn’t in the Bible, but it’s a reason most historians think Daniel rejected the food, so it’s not inaccurate.
Some parts are summarized differently from how I would summarize them, but overall the book simply follows the trajectory of the Bible chronologically, from creation to the end of Revelation.
The only books of the Bible that aren’t covered are Deuteronomy (which is basically a synopsis of the Pentateuch anyway) and Song of Songs (which is not kid material anyway). It even includes a couple of pages on what happened historically between the Old and New Testaments.
Where a storybook Bible is usually more conversational and tends to have some theology and application thrown in, The Action Bible is simply a summary of what happens in the Bible. There were a few times when I thought “is that really in the Bible?” but usually a quick search made it clear that this was an artistic interpretation of the text, not a misdirection.
How Graphic is this Graphic Novel Bible?
It’s somewhat graphic. There’s no gore, but the artist does depict some monsters (like the ones in Daniel’s vision or in Revelation). This is the most dramatic art in the whole book, and of course, my 9-year-old son found it right away because it’s in the back! He wasn’t scared by it though, just fascinated. It led to a great conversation about Revelation. This fascination, leading to heightened interest in the Bible, is what makes The Action Bible such a great resource.
I wouldn’t read The Action Bible with a preschooler, but that’s mostly because a graphic novel isn’t meant to be read aloud. This is a Bible for boys and girls who are interested in less cartoony illustrations and want to read on their own. Here’s a sample from the book of Daniel:
I know that depictions of Jesus’ crucifixion can be scary for kids, so here’s the actual illustration from that page so you know right away if it’s a good fit for your family or not:
What is new in the updated version?
I have an original copy of The Action Bible (the one my middle son used to read in the bathroom!) as well as the new, Faith in Action edition. The actual text and illustrations are the same. However, the team has created value by creating new digital content, including a few games and a devotional for every Bible story. These can be accessed by kids using a QR code, and the links lead directly to a page like this with access only to the devotionals.
I think these devotionals add a lot of value to the book and give you the chance to talk with your child about what they’re reading. Your child can access the devotionals alone (if you’re comfortable with them using a device) or you can read through them together, which is a lot easier than reading the graphic novel itself!
Another new aspect is the 7 values they’ve used to categorize each Bible story in the book: courage, faith, hope, love, service, trust, and wisdom. Each story is categorized according to one of these values, which are defined at the beginning of the book. They also provide a table of contents at the beginning where the stories are sorted into the values, as well as a chronological index at the end.
OVERALL: The Faith In Action Edition of The Action Bible is the same as the original Action Bible with some new digital content and the stories sorted into the 7 values. If you already have a copy of the Action Bible, you don’t need to rush out to get this one. But if you don’t already have a copy and are looking for a great way to engage your reluctant reader in the Bible, this is a FANTASTIC Bible to get them!
*NOTE: I received a review copy of the Faith In Action Edition of this Bible, but already owned a copy of the original Action Bible. All reviews are my own opinions.
2. Kaleidoscope Kids Bibles
A few years ago, Chris Ammen set out to bridge the gap between storybook Bibles and full-text Bibles. From his time in Children’s Ministries, he saw the elementary years as a time when a lot of kids lost interest in the Bible because they couldn’t really understand the full-text Bible yet but were way beyond the basic stories presented in a storybook Bible.
Chris and his team of authors are writing every book of the Bible, in beautifully designed single volumes, at an elementary level.
For every parent who has struggled with the transition between the Jesus Storybook Bible and an NIV, ESV, or NASB translation…Kaleidoscope books are another fantastic option for a transitional resource.
I have a fairly decent stack of these and have especially appreciated using them to introduce my kids to some of the tougher books of the Bible, like the Prophets, Numbers, and Romans.
Even my 14-year-old sometimes pulls them out to read alongside his regular Bible, because sometimes you need a little explanation along with your translation. 😜
I’ve read all the books in the picture above (plus a few more I’ve acquired since it was taken) and have found these to be quite true to Scripture, even when they add some commentary. Each author does a great job of researching their book and the small amount of commentary they add illuminates the Bible for kids (and teens!).
I’ve also found them fairly ecumenical, which means I think most Christian traditions will appreciate the way the books are written. They start with the text and go from there, instead of starting with specific theological doctrines.
If you have elementary-age kids at home or minister to kids in church, you will DEFINITELY want to check out these books. Kaleidoscope even has a subscription, which is a great way to get their books for discounted prices.
I hope you fall in love with both these resources, just as I have!