Crossway’s ESV Big Picture Bible Review
The Big Picture Bible is designed for children of ages 5-8 that are ready to transition from storybook ‘Bibles’ to real Bibles. It presents the full 2011 ESV text along with over 300 illustrations with children in mind.
My review copy is TruTone in 2 shades of teal. It has a paper liner and is perimeter-stitched. It has a simulated grain and texture of calfskin that looks and feels elegant. It’s a little stiff, but that’s probably a good thing for children. It’s Smyth sewn but it doesn’t want to stay open in Genesis out of the box. It might take a little while to break in, but I’m confident in will soften with use. The overall size is 8.75 x 5.75 x .8. This could be a little large for the target audience. I like it myself.
The paper is 39gsm with 87% opacity. It’s white and thicker and more opaque than most Bibles. It’s excellent for reading and highlighting. The edges are not gilted, so they might be susceptible to stains. If this does happen then you can use it as an opportunity to teach your kids how to draw on the page edges.
The text is presented in a double-column paragraph format with poetry in stanzas. It has a black-letter 9-point font with generous leading. There are 41-42 characters across and the columns are 2.25” wide. This makes for comfortable reading with good spacing between the words and very few hyphens. This text is a joy to read.
Section headings are in a berry red (or magenta, but my daughter argues with me over that) and stand out beautifully. Chapter numbers and book names are in purple. Verse numbers are slightly bolder and smaller than the text of Scripture and are easy to find. The colors make everything stand apart without making them look comical or out of place.
It doesn’t have line-matching, but with the high level of opacity and thickness of the paper it doesn’t really need to. Books start on a new page. The header shows the page number in the center, and on the outer corner is shows the book name, chapter, and first or last verse printed in the same dark purple as the chapter numbers.
There are over 300 illustrations. 90 of them are from the Big Picture Story Bible and 225 of them are new. They’re drawn in a cartoon style that is aimed at children and are typical of what’s found in children’s books. To be honest… I like them too (I’m a cartoonist and have always appreciated art).
Sizes for the illustrations vary. Illustrations within the text use anywhere from one corner of the page to two full pages. They include a drawing, a statement, and a Scripture reference to the passage they refer to. Illustrations also appear above the book name for every book of the Bible. These show an event from the book but do not include any text.
I don’t find the illustrations intrusive at all. They remind me of some of the beautiful art-journaling that I’ve seen. I think they are great for showing the setting and are useful for teachers and even preachers. I like visuals for teaching and preaching. Any kind of visual is helpful and these are great for jogging your memory or helping you describe the setting or make a point.
It doesn’t have cross references, but it does have footnotes in the footer. These are not the standard footnotes found in a regular ESV (they’re aren’t as many of them). They show alternate renderings, Greek and Hebrew explanations, meanings of names, some manuscript variations, skin diseases, explanations about gender (when the word ‘man’ also refers to women), etc. They’re targeted to this age group.
Big Picture Verses
In the back is a section with 45 questions in 5 different categories. Each question has a Scripture to discuss or study. The sections include:
- God Creates His Kingdom
- God Begins His Promise
- God Continues His Promise
- Jesus Fulfils God’s Promise
- God Completes His Promise
Since the answers are given as a single verse I recommend using them as a starting point and having your children to study the full context and let Scripture interpret Scripture. It’s important that we teach children to read the whole passage rather than building our beliefs on individual verses that could be taken out of context.
I have shown this Bible to several children in different age-groups (some were older than the recommended age group) and they all enjoyed using the Big Picture Bible. The layout of the text doesn’t make it scream “children’s Bible” and the illustrations appeal to anyone that likes the art style (as I do, but I like cartoons). It never talks down to kids or attempts to ‘pretend’ it’s a grownup Bible. It really is a full text-only ESV. In my opinion this Bible is usable by any age-group. I recommend it to anyone that likes a text-only ESV with cartoon illustrations.
Crossway provided this Bible free for review. I was not required to give a positive review – only an honest review. My opinions are my own.