For the last month or so, we've had the opportunity to use and review the Faith Builders Bible from Zonderkidz. I am pleased to share our experience, thoughts, and personal opinions with you here.
The Faith Builders Bible offers a unique presentation of the Bible by including an engaging brick-building based cover and some very well-designed and fun, bold, beautiful, full-color photos of building block creations as illustrations of certain Bible stories. It is the full Protestant-style Bible (not just selected stories as one might find in books for toddlers and preschoolers), including both the Old and New Testaments.
The main draw of this book will likely be the building block (or brick-building) theme. My kids are only moderately involved with Legos and similar building blocks. We have a good supply of blocks, but they do not play with them daily, nor do they ask for them as gifts or get particularly excited with new sets - unless the set has cute animals or a food/kitchen theme... but that's a story for another post. ;-) Nonetheless, both girls found the Faith Builders Bible interesting and my 3rd grader, Big Sis, cuddled up by me and begged to look through the entire book in one sitting. Granted, we didn't read the whole thing all at once, of course, but we spent plenty of time seeing what this Bible had to offer. Lil' Sis, our kindergartener, stayed with us only to see the colorful photos, but she is happy that this book will primarily belong to her since she hadn't yet received a "real" (full) Bible yet. Conveniently, we received this just in time to go along with another assignment she has to begin looking up books of the Bible!
At the beginning of the Faith Builders Bible, they include an illustration of the Books of the Bible, grouped by type, as a stack of blocks with a book name on each block. This could be helpful in learning all the names of the books in the Bible, but is also interesting to easily see what category they all fall into (for example: law, prophets, gospel, history, etc.).
Beyond the brick-building difference, some nice features of the book include: both a proper/common order and alphabetical listing of the Books of the Bible in the Table of Contents, a dictionary of some helpful terms found in the Bible, and an interesting listing of the publisher's chosen "Great Bible Stories".
This translation version offers "helps" to the reader, such as including more breaks and titles in each chapter, referencing verses quoted in other parts of the Bible, removing confusing/unclear words (specifically, they do not include the word "selah" in the Psalms since the meaning is unclear), and clearly referencing names and places, such as saying "Euphrates River" vs. just "river" where appropriate. These small differences will be just perfect for some people, allowing them to better understand what they are reading. Others, such as those already experienced with various Bible translations, might find this to be altering the text more than necessary and potentially hindering a deeper understanding of Scripture. However, this version is intended for the former type of audience - those who could use a little help figuring out the Word - and would, therefore, benefit from this translation as they begin their adventure with the Bible. And even for those who prefer other translations, this one might give a little insight where it might be otherwise difficult to grasp.
Due to the theme of this Bible, it felt natural to have the girls do some free play with our Legos while they listened to the Scripture being read aloud. This gave them something to do when we read pages that were not illustrated, which they enjoyed. A big benefit for my active kids! To further engage their attention and memory, I'd invite them to build something from what was being read. Other times, they would choose a story they remembered from the Bible before we began reading, we'd look it up, and they'd build as I read.
We found that just using building blocks were not enough for my creative kids. They expanded the building theme into other mediums, even using board game and puzzle boxes to create a Tower of Babel! As you can see from some pictures I've included in this post, they also used other blocks and toys, and Big Sis' favorite: Minecraft! [Hey Zonderkidz! That's an idea for a future similar Bible theme!] She decided to make Solomon's Temple in Minecraft and was much more involved in doing it that way vs. actual building blocks since she could make it bigger and include a burning fire, gold, and more.
I think it is worth noting a few more things here:
1) There are 24 color illustrations in the Faith Builders Bible, which both the girls and I were a tad disappointed with, particularly since it's brick-building theme is the feature that differentiates this Bible from others. It is the most engaging and fun aspect! So the limited number of Lego-like photos left us wanting more... much more. That said, I can see why they wouldn't be able to put pictures on every page and had to limit it. The book would simply be too big and thick if they had much more in there. Perhaps two books - one with the Old Testament and one with the New Testament - would be better, allowing them to have more building-block inspiration photos. Or maybe a story book Bible (rather than a complete one) as another option would be good, wherein they could include many more photos and ideas.
2) The font used in this Bible is 9-point size and a clean style. This is totally acceptable for me and my older daughter, but since this book is designed for early readers, it might be a bit small for some students. On the other hand, a larger font would have likely resulted in a heavier and thicker book, which would potentially be less manageable. So this font was probably a reasonable compromise for the publisher.
3) The brick-building illustrations are there more for inspiration than direction. There aren't any specific "how-to" or step-by-step instructions available on how to make the builds shown. Of course, this is a Bible and therefore not meant to be a building guide and since it doesn't come with a kit of blocks that match the pictures it's probably best that they don't have instructions anyway... allowing a child some creative license and freedom while they build (after they get past the "I can't make it just like the picture frustration if they are like my kids), but it's good to know what you're getting ahead of time.
4) The illustrations do not usually match up with their place in the book. For example, if the picture is about the Tower of Babel, I would assume it would be alongside the Bible verses that tell of that story/event... but that isn't the case here. This can be a bit confusing to young children who are inspired to read more. On the other hand, the verse references are included and it would be a good opportunity to teach your child how to look up verses in the Bible, if they don't already know how.
As of this post, the Faith Builders Bible is priced at $24.99. If you'd like to learn more, head over to the Zonderkidz website and check it out, read the reviews on their website, or click on the banner below to read other reviews from my fellow Schoolhouse Review Crew! You can also find Zonderkidz on Facebook and Twitter.
I'm a homeschooling mom of two, enjoying our time in Hawaii and hoping to share some of that experience with you, including ideas, reviews, resources, and information.