The Bible contains many stories about one big story: the gospel of Jesus Christ. You may know that, but do your kids?
In The Biggest Story Bible Storybook, Kevin DeYoung has summarized 104 Bible stories to help make sure they do. A companion to The Biggest Story (Crossway, 2015) but geared toward kids ages 6 to 12, this resource demonstrates how biblical scenes—both familiar and not—fit into God’s overarching plan of grace. “With typical clarity and verve, Kevin captures the wonder of the greatest story ever told,” I wrote in my endorsement. “But my children are going to have a hard time reading it, because their dad will keep stealing it to read himself.”
I asked Kevin about how this resource is unique, why moralism isn’t the only ditch threatening parents, which Don Clark illustration is his favorite, and more.
Of the making of many children’s Bibles there is no end. What’s distinct about yours?
This is absolutely the best and only children’s Bible you’ll ever need! Seriously, there are lots of good Christian books and Bible resources for kids. What I love about The Biggest Story Bible Storybook (other than that I can never remember how to say the title) is that it’s long enough to cover a lot of the Bible, but each story is short enough to be read in a few sittings. Don Clark’s illustrations are amazing, so that stands out. I tried to write each story with the big picture of the Bible in mind. I didn’t want to stray from Scripture in retelling each story, but I did aim to keep the language fresh and energetic.
How can parents teach the Bible to kids without falling into the pitfall of moralism? And what about the opposite danger?
Most important is that parents don’t so fear doing the wrong thing that they don’t try anything at all. The Bible is meant to provide moral examples for us—both positive and negative. But obviously, we should never reduce it to a collection of morality tales.
Parents [shouldn’t] so fear doing the wrong thing that they don’t try anything at all.
Pay attention to the meaning and the mood of each story, and that will help point you in the right direction. Every story is about Jesus in some way, but not every story is about Jesus in the same way.
Some advocate pressing the law hard into children for the early years of their life and then waiting to apply the gospel until they’ve seen their need. How should parents use both law and gospel in discipling children?
No offense, but that sounds like a terrible strategy. I understand the larger point—that kids need rules and boundaries, especially when they’re younger. But they also need to know God’s grace, at every age, when they transgress those rules and boundaries. On the other hand, some parents are so nervous about not being “gospel-centered” that they’re afraid to give their kids straightforward commands and consequences for breaking those commands.
So many parents feel spread thin, and the thought of yet another Christian resource to incorporate might feel overwhelming. But how might this book actually help to accelerate the discipling efforts of an exhausted parent?
I hope no parent buys it out of a sense of obligation that they have another book to read to their kids. If this is a good children’s book, the kids will want to read it for themselves. True, I think this can be a great resource for family worship around the dinner table, but first of all I hope it’s a book kids can’t wait to read and look at.
It’s safe to say you have a passel of kids. How have family-worship routines in the DeYoung home changed through various stages of parenting?
Well, we’ve never really left any of the stages of parenting. We just keep adding new stages without finishing any of the previous ones. We have nine kids, ages 1 through 18. Our dinner times, when they happen, are always loud and chaotic. Sometimes we read a Bible passage. Sometimes we pray. Sometimes we share something from our days. Sometimes we do something longer and more formal. Sometimes, to be honest, we don’t do anything except try to get the kids fed, get them in bed, and survive the day.
Don Clark’s illustrations are amazing. Do you have a favorite?
Don is amazingly talented. His illustrations are so unique, so colorful, and so interesting that they’ve almost become a genre unto themselves. I love the picture of the pregnant virgin Mary. We have that framed and hanging in our home. I also have the picture of the tiny ark on the waves hanging in my study at church.
This can be a great resource for family worship around the dinner table, but first of all I hope it’s a book kids can’t wait to read and look at.
Other favorites include Daniel and the lion’s den (so many bones, but Daniel is still alive), Jonah being swallowed by the great fish (such an ominous fish and such a small prophet), the rooster crowing at Peter’s denial (what a colorful and sobering reminder of our fickleness), and the picture of the celestial city in Revelation (wonderful to stare at and ponder).
What were the most enjoyable and the most difficult sections to write? How did you decide what to leave out?
There are 104 stories, 52 for each Testament. I tried to include the familiar stories (Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Christmas, Easter) while also telling some lesser-known stories like Gehazi or the daughters of Zelophehad. Writing each story was harder than I thought it would be. In a normal book you can get on a roll and write 2,000 words when things are really flowing. But with this book, each story (about 500 words) had to have its own introduction and conclusion, its own theme, its own narrative arc. I read commentaries and went back through old sermons before writing each chapter. I didn’t want to just tell the story but to teach it—and in a way that’s playful but also brings out theological themes and biblical threads many might miss. I hope adults will find the book as interesting and instructive as kids do.