Once upon a time (or more like 6 years ago), I was known as Bible Girl in my office. Unfortunately the title did not come with a cape or special powers, but my boss liked to call me that as I managed the Bible publishing for the NRSV Bibles. He also liked to joke with me that I was having Bible study all day as I edited study notes for various study Bibles. Truly… it was kind of like a Bible study all day. I joked back that if he saw me with my head on my desk that he shouldn’t be concerned and that he should just know that I was praying. Although I love my title as Mommy and being COO of our household, I do miss those days of being Bible Girl.
So, when I was asked to review a study Bible for kids, I jumped on the opportunity. I was so thrilled to receive an advance copy from Zondervan for The NIV Kids’ Visual Study Bible! I really think this Bible will fill a gap – especially for inquisitive tweens or for youth leaders or parents who need a resource to further explain key events in the Bible in an age-appropriate format.
The introduction to each book of the Bible delivers a quick and helpful summary and review. The layout is beautifully designed (although the Bible text is a bit small) – the single column Bible text is paired alongside a column of study notes, pictures, graphics and maps. The headlines for the study notes are attention-getting to help get your tween to dig back into scripture. I really think tweens will enjoy reading the LifeLines (a timeline of key Biblical figures with a chronological listing of key events in their life paired to their age when the events occurred as well as a Biblical reference). I also thought the comparison charts were very intriguing (i.e. comparing the number of parables in each Gospel) and the timelines were very informative and helpful (i.e. summary of what happened during each day of the week during Passion Week or what happened each hour on Good Friday).
There are maps and archaeological photos interspersed throughout to help further explain events in the text. Some photos or illustrations feel like filler and are a bit distracting and unnecessary. This is the tough balance to pull off in a Bible for kids – keeping them engaged and drawn back to scripture, rather than distracting them away from the text.
I also think this Bible would be best used in a Bible study, youth group, family devotions, or in a Sunday School setting. Unless your tween is driven to dive into study on their own, they may get lost with the amount of content here… and the content is rich and worth reading and it would be a shame to be overlooked! It would be great if Zondervan could produce an online reading plan or methods on how to get the most out of this Bible to set this Bible up for success for parents and youth leaders.