Thinking about buying a Bible as a Christmas gift for a child? This will help. As children grow, the list of products we buy for them grows, too: strollers, big kid beds, bikes, chromebooks, braces, cell phones and on and one. However, of all the items we purchase for them, the one that makes the biggest eternal impact on their development is a “good fit” Bible. It’s never too early to begin reading the Bible with children and modeling for them the importance of daily time in His Word. But, how do you find the best Bible for a child that will help them fall in love with reading it? With so many options available, it can feel overwhelming. So, we put together some simple guidelines to help you find a Bible to support a young child’s spiritual and early literacy development. Plus, reading it with a caring adult promotes healthy social-emotional development, too.
Tips for Buying a Bible for a Young Child
Bibles for Babies (0-2 years old)
Board books are ideal for babies, who may prefer to “mouth” the book while listening. At this age, look for Bible picture books full of simple illustrations and stories. Talk about what you see on the page. Let your child feel the pages. Being held by a parent during storytime promotes bonding, helps babies connect the sounds of words with pictures, provides a natural time to engage in conversations about God, and models for little ones the importance of reading the Bible and learning about God.
Bibles for Toddlers and Preschoolers (2-4 years old)
Being able to hear and identify words that rhyme is the earliest phonemic awareness ability. That is just a fancy way to say that you understand that words are made up of different sounds (phonemes). It is an essential skill to reading. It’s one of the reasons many Bibles for toddlers rhyme. However, at this age, children also are ready for longer Bible stories as their attention span grows.
Bibles for K-5th Grade Kids (both early readers and readers)
When children begin reading independently, use the “Five Finger Rule” to find a good fit Bible. (This rule works for regular books, too.) Turn to your favorite Psalm and ask your child or grandchild to read it. As your child reads, hold up a finger for every word he or she doesn’t know. If you hold up 1 to 2 fingers, it is a good fit translation. If you hold up 3 fingers, your child may need help from you occasionally. If you hold up 4 or 5 fingers, try another translation that better fits your child’s current reading abilities. When I worked in Kid’s Ministry, we used the the NiRV translation in early elementary. It is written at a 3rd grade level.
The best Bible for young children will be the one that they will read–however they will choose to read it. For some young children, especially preschoolers and younger, they may not want to sit still to read. That’s okay. Let them move around and enjoy their time with you reading the Bible. Other children may prefer an audio version of the Bible. Our girls loved listening to the audio version of the Jesus Storybook Bible. I used it with them during rest time to help them settle down and in the car.
And for the middle school and high school student in your life?
The Life Application Study Bible (NLT) or Wayfinding Bible are great options to consider. Or better yet take them with you to your local store to pick one out. You may find that students in their small group use a specific one that they really like or they may prefer a journalling Bible or one with sports devotionals inside. Picking out their own Bible can be a step towards growing in their faith.