At first, I was not enamored with this series of books, as they seemed too simple â almost dated â compared to a lot of other Bible story books we have read. In truth, the books reminded me, initially, of what you might find on a classroom bulletin board â simple, watercolor paintings with small white rectangles in the corner on which a few sentences in a large, typical black font were typed. However, as my two and three year old requested me to read the book time and time again, they grew on me.
I realized that the illustrations, while not at first appealing to me, captured my children's attention immediately. Bold, bright, with simple lines and just a bit of detail, each illustration offered my children enough to visualize the stories, while not overburdening their senses. As my children continually pointed to the illustrations, discussing what they brought to mind, I noted that âsimpleâ can, indeed, âbe bestâ in picture Bible stories â nothing scary, nothing complicated, just enough to engage developing minds. As such, I began to appreciate the illustrations in these books from a teaching perspective â large and appealing, they are as good for one child as for a circle of them. As such, the drama teacher in me realized that the illustrations would make inspiring starters for tableau-come-alive activities and the kid's art teacher wannabe in me realized that they could serve as great models for simple Bible story artwork.
So, my initial qualms with the look of the books were abated. But, what of the text? Again, through reading the books time and time again at my children's requests, they grew on me. I realized that since they retell familiar Bible stories in broad strokes with just enough detail to allow to make sense in the minds of small children, the stories could serve well both as simple read-alouds and as starting points for further discussion and exploration. I also found that since the author used simple sentence structures and just a hint of repetition, the text of each story brings action to life in an age-appropriate way. Plus, the parts of familiar Bible stories that some youngsters find âscaryâ or âweirdâ are merely left out, making the stories a great bedtime read! Indeed, that the author Ella K. Lindvall did a quality job at distilling sometimes difficult stories to make them both entertaining and accessible for even the youngest and most impressionable of readers. Bible stories, as they are told in Read Aloud Bible Stories, are great for toddlers and early readers, and, with some extensions and discussion, could even serve older readers as well.
Furthermore, each story ends with a simple white page that asks and answers the question, âWhat did you learn?â I rarely read the written answers to my children, opting instead to simply ask them the question. In response, my children retell parts of the story, make some age-appropriate connections and otherwise prove that stories in the books were reaching them. Sometimes, this leads to interesting discussions, at other times, it simply confirms that my children enjoy the book. Thus, I realized that the books in this series could easily be used as devotionals as well as mere story books.
I must say, that after spending time with Read-Aloud Bible Stories, I have become a fanand am eager to see the rest of the series! My children like the book and I see its merit more and more each time I read it. For parents, for schools, for faith formation programs and for homeschoolers alike, the book would be a worthwhile resource. At home, if offers opportunities for simple family devotions, as well as for pleasant bedtime reading, which neither will be too tedious for caregivers to read nor will induce bad dreams in children. At schools, the book's larger size and big, bold illustrations make it ideal for circle time sharing, while its simple storylines leave room for extension activities in many subjects. At faith formation classes, the quick stories in the book could easily be added to a lesson to review or introduce a particular Bible story or theme, while they could also be used, with some creative though, as the basis of an entire series of lessons. Finally, for homeschoolers, the book could mesh well with a number of homeschooling styles, enhancing home learning. For example, they would lend themselves easily to a young child's Charlotte-Mason inspired reading and narration, to a Classical toddler's reading and drawing/retelling, to a Reggio-inspired homes exploration of the â100 languages of childrenâ, providing a basis for exploring and fleshing out Bible stories through a number of mediums. In short. Read-Aloud Bible Stories, which may appear overly simplified at first, are quite adaptable and worth a second (third or fiftieth) look!