Having recently welcomed our first child, we are more than ever on the lookout for good children’s books. That’s why we were excited to hear of Kevin DeYoung’s latest endeavor, The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden (Crossway, 2015).
In this book, he gives children an overview of the Bible’s entire redemptive storyline—beginning with creation, ending with new creation, and centering on Jesus, the “Snake Crusher.” It’s obviously a lot to pack into 130 brief and illustrated pages, so if you’re looking for detailed retellings of the “little stories” like Cain and Abel or David and Goliath, expect to be disappointed. But if you’re interested in seeing how these “little stories” fit into the big story about Jesus, then we’d encourage you to make this little book a part of your family reading. We strongly suspect your children won’t be the only ones learning.
Not only is The Biggest Story a lasting contribution to family collections, it’s also an aesthetically delightful book. A thin, dust-jacketed hardback, it’s solid and feels good in the hands. The illustrations are both rich and a just bit dark. Don Clark is clearly a pro illustrator.
We corresponded with DeYoung—TGC Council member, pastor of University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan, and author of numerous books for big people.
I’m guessing your catchy subtitle (“How the Snake-Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden”) sums up the book. Could you flesh out this big story for us in a brief paragraph?
The Big Story is the story of God’s grace which runs from Genesis to Revelation. How can a holy God dwell in the midst of an unholy people? That’s the question that gets to the heart of the biblical narrative. Adam sins and gets kicked out of the garden. Israel sins and gets kicked out of the land. Later God’s people sinned and put Jesus up on a cross. But over and over, God does for us what we cannot do ourselves. He rescues, he redeems, he reconciles. And one day the Man who was prophesied to step on the head of that devilish serpent will come back down to earth (again) and lead us back to the Garden Paradise we lost so long ago.
What’s one error you hope this book will help children (and parents) avoid when reading the Bible?
I hope parents and children will be able to read the Bible as one story. Obviously, it’s made up of hundreds of stories told by different men in different genres. But there really is an overarching storyline, and once we see that big picture, a lot of the smaller picture frames start coming into focus.
We noticed you didn’t dare kids to be a Daniel. Do you think it’s a mistake for parents to use biblical characters as moral examples for children?
It’s wrong if that’s all parents do with the Bible. The good news of the Bible is not what we can or must do for God, but what God in the person of Jesus Christ has already done for us. Having said that, let’s not overreact and think daring our kids to be a Daniel is reprehensible. The Bible is full of examples of, well, examples, from Paul saying imitate me in 1 Corinthians 11 to the hall of fame of faith in Hebrews 11. “These things took place as examples for us” (1 Cor. 10:6)—that’s not the whole story of the Bible and by itself doesn’t give us the Biggest Story, but it is an important part of how the Bible means to teach us.
How do you think parents could best integrate this book into their family worship and discipleship?
Don’t stop reading the Bible. Don’t stop teaching creeds and catechisms. Don’t put away the hymnal. But if you need something else to supplement your family worship, this could be a good book for you. Read it before bed. Read it around the Christmas tree. It’s my prayer that some families might make this book a part of their treasured traditions.
How did you and the illustrator, Don Clark, get connected and how did the style of the illustration develop? How important was it finding the right illustrator?
Crossway was great to work with. I’d give them some general ideas of what I was looking for in the illustrations and they’d try to find samples for me to look at. We spent a long time looking through a lot of illustrations and illustrators. Once they showed me Don’s stuff, I was immediately excited. Finding the right illustrator was a huge part of the process. I couldn’t be more pleased with Don’s contribution. The books wouldn’t work without his bright, thoughtful, and beautiful drawings.
Any plans for future children’s books?
Good question. Crossway has talked about Don and me teaming up for an Easter book or a Christmas book. Nothing is set in stone at this point, but I’m excited to think about the possibility.