The Mailbag: Children’s Bible Recommendations

I continue to update this article as new Bibles and information become available. You will notice I have retracted some of my previous recommendations. I considered removing them since it makes the article a little clunky to navigate, but I decided to leave them in so you can see which Bibles I don’t recommend, and so you can see how once-trustworthy sources can, sadly, become untrustworthy over time.


Do you have any recommendations for a trustworthy Bible for children? My son is almost 6 and still learning to read well. I’m looking for a Bible that he might be able to grow with and use until he’s 10 or so. We’d love to get him in the practice of bringing his own Bible to church. I saw you have a large family so I thought you might have some insight.

Getting your kids started on Bible ownership and reading at an early age is definitely something Christian parents should be doing, and finding a great Bible for young readers can take some searching.

I do have six kiddos, but my youngest is almost fourteen- a little above the age bracket you’re looking at. I couldn’t remember which kids’ Bible we had most recently used with our own kids, so I asked my almost fourteen year old and my fifteen year old. They both reported that we had given them the **NIV Adventure Bible when they were around six or eight. It contains the entire text of Scripture and it looks like the current edition has a lot of good study features. You might also want to take a look at the NIrV Adventure Bible for Early Readers version depending on his reading level.

My friend Rachel over at danielthree18 recently wrote a helpful review of the ESV Following Jesus Bible she and her husband bought their son for Christmas. It wasn’t available when we were Bible shopping for our own kids, but if it had been, it’s probably the one we would have chosen.

As I was gathering links for this article, I stumbled across a couple more kids’ Bibles that, while I haven’t read them, look like they might be worth checking out: the ESV Grow Bible and the ESV Children’s Bible. I can’t personally vouch for either of them, so examine them carefully, but ESV Bibles generally have a reputation for being trustworthy.


More recently, Steadfast Bibles and Three Sixteen Publishing released the NASB (New American Standard Bible) Children’s Edition. The NASB is one of the most accurate and reliable English translations of the Bible on the market today. I used the NASB as my primary reading Bible for over 20 years and highly recommend it. I have no doubt that the children’s edition is equally stellar. Read more about the NASB Children’s Edition here.

If you’d rather get your son a simple, non-child themed, no frills Bible, I’d recommend an **NIrV (New International Reader’s Version- It’s the NIV in simpler language), an NIV, or an ESV. If you’d like to examine these or any other translations, you can “try before you buy” at They have numerous Bible versions you can take a look at online for free. There’s even a side by side comparison feature:

You can also check your church’s library or your local public library and examine their children’s Bibles to see what’s available out there, and what your child likes, before purchasing him a Bible.

For our readers with smaller children, I’d like to suggest two Bible storybooks. They do not contain the full text of Scripture, but can be a good introduction to the Bible for your little ones. I have not personally read either of these, but they both come highly recommended by reliable sources. Still, remember, no matter how reliable the source, you must do the work of comparing everything you read, and read to your children, to Scripture to make sure it’s biblical.

Tim Challies reviewed The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones. His take: “We gladly commend it to families with young children and have purchased the curriculum for use in some of our children’s programs at Grace Fellowship Church. It remains one of my top picks in its genre.”

Update (3/23/19): The Jesus Storybook Bible was released in 2007. In 2018, Sally Lloyd-Jones released a children’s book entitled Goldfish on Vacation which included an illustration of a homosexual couple. When a homosexual man commended her for this on Twitter (the tweet has since been deleted) she had this to say:

As of this update, I haven’t found any additional evidence that Sally affirms homosexuality, but this tweet is troubling enough that I am rescinding my recommendation of the Jesus Storybook Bible and any of Sally’s other materials until such time as repents and resumes a biblical stance on this sin.

Kevin DeYoung is a solid, trustworthy pastor and teacher of God’s word, not to mention a dad of young kids. In 2015, he released The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden, a children’s “overview of the Bible’s entire redemptive storyline—beginning with creation, ending with new creation, and centering on Jesus, the ‘Snake Crusher’.”

On a “wear and tear” note- we’ve purchased both soft cover (paperback) and hard cover Bibles for our elementary-aged kids, and both seem to get torn up pretty easily. (Or maybe my kids are just tough on Bibles!) With soft covers, the front and/or back cover can get ripped clean off, and with hard covers, the binding tends to detach. The only solution I can think of for this is to purchase a hard cover edition and some sort of case to keep it in (maybe one made of whatever those airplane “black boxes” are made out of). Perhaps training your child to keep his Bible in a certain place (on his dresser, the coffee table, etc.) whenever he’s not reading it might help. We neglected to do this and I often found Bibles on the floor, in the toy box, at the bottom of the closet, and other places conducive to Bible destruction. Anyway, keep the duct tape handy is all I’m saying.

The main thing, when you’re looking for a Bible for your kids is to find a good translation, avoid paraphrases, and be on the lookout for false doctrine, which has, unfortunately, trickled down into kids’ Bibles and devotionals (such as the kids’ versions of Jesus Calling – click on the Popular False Teachers tab at the top of this page for more information). You might find my article Which Bible Do You Recommend? (for selecting an adult Bible) helpful.

**I am retracting my recommendation of the NIV/NIrV Adventure Bible (and any other NIV or NIrV Bible). As you may be aware, in 2005, Zondervan revised the trustworthy 1984 translation of the NIV to include gender neutral/inclusive language. It was called the T(Today’s)NIV. In response to completely appropriate backlash from the Christian community, Zondervan again revised the NIV in 2011. Unfortunately, they did not revise out the gender neutral/inclusive language, but, rather, essentially merged the NIV with the TNIV, dropping the “T,” and simultaneously took the 1984 NIV and the TNIV out of print. The current editions of the NIV/NIrV Adventure Bible contain the 2011 gender neutral/inclusive text of the NIV.

For a better grasp of the problems with the gender neutral/inclusive verbiage of the 2011 NIV, please read: A fair analysis of the new NIV.

Here is an excerpt from the preface of the current edition of the NIV Adventure Bible. (Click on “look inside” at the upper left of the page for the entire preface.):

I apologize for any confusion or inconvenience my mistake may have caused my readers. I assure you it was a simple error due to the fact that we purchased the Adventure Bible for our children before gender neutral/inclusive language was an issue, and it didn’t occur to me to check the current edition for the 2011 revisions.

Maybe my mistake can serve as a reminder to us all that just because something or someone was once biblically trustworthy doesn’t mean it will remain that way. Always be a good Berean and check everything.

If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.


1 thought on “The Mailbag: Children’s Bible Recommendations”

  1. I bought this ESV bible for my eight year old. It is just the straight text with illustrations. I really love to see how she uses it. There are hundreds of pictures and she will see the picture and then read the scripture that it is based off of. I am amazed at how much of the bible she has read because the picture intrigued her.


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