Monday, December 3, 2012

Book Review: The New Catholic Illustrated Bible

With the quickly approaching due date of our first child, my wife and I have been looking into all sorts of different baby products trying to figure out what to get for the little guy. Apart from the normal stuff, like strollers and car seats, I have been looking for good books to read to him. Call me crazy to be worrying about books at this early stage in the game, but when books are a big part of your life, you want them to be a big part of your kid's life.

Saint Benedict Press was kind enough to send me The New Catholic Illustrated Bible to review. While my unborn son is years away from reading this, it will be a great book when he comes to the age where we can read it to him, or he can read it himself. I would say the minimum age you could use this with your child would be 6, but some of you may start earlier. That is just my thoughts.

The translation for this Bible is the New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE). This is the same translation you hear in Mass and is definitely the best translation to use when reading aloud, especially to children. It is not the most literal translation, like the Revised Standard Version (RSV), but you don't need that unless you are going to do serious study. The NABRE is beautiful and liturgical, and if your kids pay attention in Mass, they might begin to see that they recognize some of the passages in their Bible that they hear on Sundays.

Illustrations also are a great tool when used properly in books for children, and these illustrations are masterfully done. With over 100 illustrations in this Bible, the stories will come alive for your children and even you. Lars Kofod-Fredriksen did an outstanding job with the artwork. Another thing I love about this Bible is that it's a lay-flat format. My wife can attest that nothing aggravates me more than when the spine cracks on a book. I have even gone so far as to accuse her of killing books when she cracks their spines. Well, you won't have to worry about this book "dying" on you.

At over 300 pages, this Bible has all the stories you'll want your kids to hear. The Old Testament covers Creation, Noah, the Patriarchs, Moses, and David, but also covers some stories I didn't expect to read about Gideon or Queen Esther. In the New Testament, your child will learn all about Jesus and his miracles and parables. I wish this Bible had separated out the story of John the Baptist's annunciation from the story of Jesus' annunciation, but that is a minor quibble.

My favorite section in this Bible is the one on Holy Week. At 19 pages, it is easily the longest section and rightly so. Starting at Palm Sunday and going through Good Friday this sets the stage for Jesus' impending Crucifixion and Resurrection, and I could see myself reading this to my son (and hopefully other kids) every Holy Week. These beautiful Bible easily gets 5 out of 5 stars for me, but if I could give it more, I would. It belongs on your kids' bookshelf, and is a gem your family will treasure for years.