A Review of The ICB – The International Children’s Bible

On the cover this Bible states that it is “the translation that children can read and understand.” In the preface, it says that this is the “first translation of the Holy Scriptures prepared specifically for children.” This Bible is supposed to be on a grade 3 reading level. This is great news for those of us endeavoring to teach God’s Word in an effective, understandable way to young kids.

The publishers (Tommy Nelson) have worked diligently to make sure that things like ancient customs, figures of speech, connotations, and idiomatic expressions have been simplified for a child’s clear understanding. For instance, in Genesis 1:1, it says “In the beginning God created the sky and the earth.” We are used to hearing it as “the heavens and the earth”, but a more concrete thinker might wonder “Heavens? I thought there was only one heaven?”   The Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6 comes out as “Our Father in heaven, we pray that your name will always be kept holy. We pray that your kingdom will come. We pray that what you want will be done, here on earth as it is in heaven. Give us the food we need for each day. Forgive the sins we have done, just as we have forgiven those who did wrong to us. And do not cause us to be tested, but save us from the Evil one.”

The ICB has many helps for the young Bible reader. It has key verse highlights to help kids read and learn key passages of Scripture. These are literally highlighted in the text. In the front of the book is a topical index for these key verses, so kids can find verses on things like friendship, guidance, the Holy Spirit, etc. There is also a dictionary in the back of the Bible for words, terms, and names with which children may not be familiar. These same words are emboldened in the text, so that you know it’s in the dictionary if you need the definition. There is a section, also in the back, called “Where Do I Find It?” This tells where to find Scriptures about Daniel, or creation, for instance, giving the reference.   Next, there is a section called “What God Promises About..” Children can see the promises of God clearly laid out by topic. Wisdom, Salvation, My Happiness, are a few of the headings. Finally, there is a section called “Memory Verses for My Life.”, which is exactly like it sounds – a list of verses that are easy to memorize and great for learning.

The ICB has really nice graphics. There are a number of maps in the back, showing Abraham’s Journey, the Desert Wanderings, Jesus’ Last Week in Jerusalem, and Palestine in Jesus’ Life. There are vibrant illustrations interspersed throughout the whole book. These are lively, modern looking, clean-lined pictures with vivid colors that kids will be drawn to.

I do think the publishers of the ICB have accomplished what they set out to do, which is to make not a storybook or paraphrase, but a real translation of God’s word for young readers. It would make a great resource for a Sunday school classroom. It would also be a wonderful gift for a young child, especially if you sit down and read it with them!

For Such A Time as This

poor child

The kidmin world has been much engaged of late with the idea of and need for Family Ministry. As we know, according to Deuteronomy 6, the primary responsibility for spiritual training belongs in the home and with the parents. We want to see parents passing on the love of Jesus to their children and working together as a family to be in God’s Word and walk in his ways. We know that this is God’s mandate to parents, and we as children’s ministers are there to help and support them.

But what about the others? You know them. Some are “bus kids”, some are seen at sidewalk Sunday schools, some walk to church on their own, others are dropped off. They’re the ones whose parents are never or rarely seen. They’re the ones who live in turmoil caused by addiction in the family, or whose parents are simply absent from their parenting role, or who see other people or things (a boyfriend, a job) as more important than their kids’ spiritual lives. What about them?

In all the very important conversation about Family Ministry, we need to make sure that these kids, who don’t have family support, have our support. I actually heard someone say that we don’t really need Children’s Ministry anymore, just Family Ministry. The logic was that for thousands of years there was no such thing as Children’s Ministry, that God uses the family for that.

To a point, that is true. But I’d like to suggest that in this day of rampant drug and alcohol abuse, child neglect, child abuse and parental lack of involvement, that God may have literally raised up Children’s Ministry for such a time as this. I believe that He has placed us here at this moment in history to help show these kids that He loves them and has not forgotten them, and that they are part of His family.