Book Review: The Bible's Big Story

James M. Hamilton Jr. and Tessa Janes (Ilistration), The Bible's Big Story: Salvation History for Kids (Christian Focus Publications, Scotland, U.K.), 2013.

During a Salty Believer Unscripted episode, Dr. Jim Hamilton mentioned a children's project he wrote.  Curious, I looked it up after we concluded the interview.  Click.  Purchased.  I have two boys and thought it might be good for them.  Maybe it could serve as family catechism? 

The Bible's Big Story is indeed a children's book, complete with fun, colorful illustrations.  My children took to the pictures immediately.   Each page features a simple couplet or poetic pair of lines that Hamilton wrote to teach the major points of the salvation narrative.  These lines are largely printed in red and there is a biblical verse and some additional suggested Scriptures below.  This format makes it easy for my son to stick to the story when reading at breakfast without taking too long to go through all the verses.  However, this format also makes it really easy for us to discuss the verses too. 

At first I wasn't sure if my 4 and 7-year-old would understand what was being said.  Some of the vocabulary and sentence construction was a bit cumbersome.  (I discuss this elsewhere on this website.)  We read the book everyday at breakfast, explaining it as we read when necessary.  Soon enough the kids were able to recite the entire book and with some explanation, we think some may be sticking.

I realize this post isn't much of a review or critique. (If Dr. Hamilton were my professor today, he'd probably give me an F.)  The book is theologically sound.  It can be read quick enough for the attention span of a child but is robust enough that it is thought provoking and fun for mom and dad.  Hamilton does a nice job selecting the major turning points of the biblical story without overloading the book.  Most of the couplets are fun and memorable.  That being said, one area of criticism I have is with the page on Noah and the flood.  It doesn't rhyme when read aloud (and my seven-year-old often reads to the family at breakfast while we all listen).  "People never did to good," it reads, "But God saved Noah at the flood."  Good.  Flood.  No matter how we read this, it just sounds clunky, almost jarring, which is not the case for every other page.  But this is so minor.  The Bible's Big Story is great and the entire family loves it.  

If you have children and you're looking for a fun, simple way to teach them the major points of God's salvation history, this is a great tool.  I highly recommend it. 

*I have no connection to this book, monetary or otherwise.