The Lion’s Children’s Bible is a fully illustrated book of narrative Bible stories for children. This book is designed for children ages 7-12, and covers significant stories from Genesis through Acts. Earlier editions have been very popular over the past 30 years, selling more than four million copies.
I was excited to receive this book because, while my family typically reads the King James Version of the Bible, it is nice for children to have a simplified version of the stories, in order to be able to recall the stories more readily. Unfortunately, my enthusiasm was premature. I previewed the book before reading it to my children, and found some of the stories were missing—parts, I feel, are essential. The very first story is the story of Adam and Eve. The entire creation was covered in eight short sentences, and then a page and a half was dedicated to Eve eating the fruit. None of the creative days were mentioned, especially the Sabbath day. The lies the serpent told were not mentioned, such as the fact that Lucifer told Eve she would not die. Instead, it only mentioned that the serpent told Eve she would be wise, and “as clever as God is.” To some this might not be a disappointment, but to me it was a big disappointment, because I believe the creation is so important.
I was also disappointed with the amount of creative license taken in the stories. For example, in the story of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, the story speaks of the gossip in the town over Mary being with child. In the King James Version, there is no mention of gossip, but only that Joseph was not willing to make a public example of her. It also said that Joseph and Mary packed clothes for the baby who was to be born on the trip. It was possible, but isn’t part of the Biblical account. While I understand the reasons the authors put these non-Biblical details in the stories, I find these types of literary devices distracting from the true stories. In all my years of teaching Sunday School and raising my children, I have found that children tend to latch on to the minor fictional details, rather than the Biblical truths. As a result, I tend to steer clear of fictionalized accounts of the scriptures.
While this children’s Bible had some issues I did not like, there were a few features that I really did like. The first was the scripture references at the top of each page. These references make it very easy to flip to the corresponding story in the Bible. Unlike some children’s Bibles, the illustrations were not cartoonish, but were interesting and very colorful. I also liked the addition of explanatory information in some of the stories. For example, in the story of Joseph and Mary going to Bethlehem, a simple explanation is given of why they were traveling to Bethlehem and how far it was to travel.
Unfortunately for me, the negatives outweighed the positives in this version of Bible stories. There were too many modifications, additional speculations, and omissions of important parts of stories for me to recommend this version of children’s Bible stories.