The ICB Garden Children’s Bible is an actual Bible for younger readers
I recieved a free copy of this Bible as member of the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid and as a Bible Gateway Partner in exchange for an honest review. #BibleGatewayPartner
To start right off, I want to say honestly that upon receiving this children’s Bible I was immediately skeptical. One thing that really bothered me as a mom when I was looking for my kiddo’s first Bible was that all the Bibles for littles were not actually the Bible – they were watered-down versions of some of the Bible stories mashed together in a book called a children’s Bible. As she has gotten older and is reading the actual Bible in a variety of translations on her own, she is realizing how little of actual scripture she really read and learned from her Children’s Bible. So, I review anything labeled “children’s Bible” with extra scrutiny and the ICB Garden Children’s Bible is no exception.
So, now that we have that disclaimer out of the way, all you people shopping for a possible Bible for the kiddos in your lives – you can breathe a sign of relief. The ICB Garden Children’s Bible is a full Bible rather than the typical paraphrase children’s Bible we see on bookstore shelves or online. This particular ICB Garden Children’s Bible is not such a watered-down, not-even-really-scripture “children’s Bible”. It is an actual Bible in a translation diligently translated for an honest (and tested) 3rd-grade reading level.
What translation is the ICB Garden Children’s Bible?
The ICB Garden Children’s Bible is offered in the International Children’s Bible (ICB) Translation. I was impressed and encouraged to see that this Bible for kids even has an entire section about the translations. As a parent and avid Bible studier myself, I love being able to read about the translation right here in the Bible and appreciate this courtesy in a Bible for my child.
The ICB was put together by a group of Bible scholars and translators, as well as the World Bible Translation Center. Some of the same people that worked on the ICB also worked on translations such as the NIV, NKJV, and NASB. It uses Greek and Hebrew texts, a couple of which include the 3rd edition of the United Bible Societies’ Greek texts, Biblia Hebraica, and the Septuagint. I find it encouraging that a children’s translation of the Bible was composed using actual Greek and Hebrew texts like most of the more “adult” translations.
One thing parents and guardians reading this with their kids will want to notice and assist with is that in more mature translations we see a lot of rhetorical questions that are easier to understand as you get older. Here, they are changed to a statement to relay what the rhetorical questions are making a point about. So, in your own Bible you may see something as a question, while in this Bible it is a statement. You may also see a figure of speech in your Bible translation, while in the ICB it is clarified. This is to help our kiddos read what is being said rather than getting confused by the rhetoric and figures of speech they do not quite understand yet. This may be a hot point for some people, and you will want to pay close attention to these instances, but so far the ones I have seen make complete sense to me.
What makes the ICB Garden Children’s Bible different from other kids’ Bibles?
Aside from it being an actual Bible translation, the ICB Garden Children’s Bible also definitely caters to younger readers in its designs. It features two cartoon characters, a lion and a lamb. My first instinct on seeing this was – why on earth are there cartoons in this Bible? This was another red flag for me.
At the very front, the illustrator gives a great explanation to the reader about these characters. It is explained that these little characters, Lenny the Lion and Lucy the Lamb, encourage the reader to spend time with God and essentially help encourage young readers to be engaged with scripture. These characters help make it entertaining while remaining true to the focus of Jesus Christ. I was very pleased about this, and to be honest completely surprised.
What features are included in the ICB Garden Children’s Bible?
There are also some fantastic resources to encourage children to read the Bible and actually explore Bible themes deeper. Some of these features honestly make this Bible feel more like a grown-up Bible with cartoons on it than a Children’s Bible – but in a way I am really, really grateful for! I don’t want my kid’s Bible to be so milky she is not even learning actual scripture or about salvation and a personal relationship with the Lord. With this, I am not worried about any of those things.
Some of the other features include:
- A “Why should I read the Bible?” page
- Names of God with verse references
- Miracles of Jesus page with verse references
- Kids in the Bible page with verse references
- Bible illustrations and a whole list of them with page numbers and verse references
- Book introductions
- Commentary from “Lucy” and “Lenny” to help explain different things found on a page
- Highlights about what God says that stand out to the reader
- Prayer encouragements scattered throughout
- Maps in the back
- ICB Dictionary
- “I can memorize scripture” section to teach kids how to start memorizing scripture
- Topical Index
- Bible reading plans
- Inside front and back cover coloring pages
Is the ICB Garden Children’s Bible a good Bible for younger readers?
Yes! The ICB Garden Children’s Bible is a great Bible for young readers. I do recommend this Bible for children and those at a 3rd-grade (or so) reading level, or even lower with help. This is one of the most thorough children’s Bible I have ever seen that does not skimp on the resources and features just because it is for kids and those at lower reading levels.
The content is well-designed, and the illustrations help readers focus on Christ and learn what the Bible is actually teaching them. I definitely recommend that when a reader surpasses 3rd-or-so-grade reading level they move up to a translation that is at a higher reading level and that is more literally translated, but this seems to me like a wonderful option for families who want their kids to learn to really read and study the Bible at a younger age, as well as for other readers who are not quite ready for the higher-reading level translations. I would recommend this over a paraphrase any day!