Our family used Marty Machowski's The Gospel Story Bible for our devotional time during our homeschooling all of last year (2013-2014), and I have nothing but the highest of recommendations for it. My kids at that time were ages 7, 9, 12, 14, and 16, and each of them LOVED this fantastic book! Mr. Machowski has done a superb job of pointing to Jesus and His redeeming love in each story from both the old and new testaments. We found that the author was able to make deeper theological truths easier to understand and were extremely grateful that he didn't leave out the essential truth that the old testament ALWAYS points to the Savior of the new testament. Far too many story bibles take the events of the old testament as individual stories, unrelated to each other and definitely unrelated to Jesus. Mr. Machowski does a fantastic job showing how each story IS related to Christ, how it points to Him, and how it, in turn, affects us today. Much of this occurs in the last paragraph of each story's text. Some of it happens in the questions relating to the truly remarkable artwork on the adjacent page. Many (MANY!) days we were able to have some very deep conversations as a result of Machowski's inclusion of this vital information. Young children need to hear it! I recognize that they will not understand the depths of these truths; they may not even grasp the surface of them, but that doesn't negate the need to hear them.
As far as the author using words that are too difficult for preschoolers to understand goes....what a great opportunity to enrich a child's vocabulary! With an enriched vocabulary, we are more fully able to understand and discuss what we read and hear.
Worth mentioning, as one reviewer pointed out, Mr. Machowski has kept his stories pretty close to the text of the ESV translation. On the occasions when we would read the ESV text after reading The Gospel Story Bible's version of the story, I always felt like I was just re-reading what I had just read. I appreciated Machowski sticking so closely to the text of the actual bible.
After each story, Mr. Machowski asks three questions relating to the picture (which relates to the story). The first question is usually very simple and relates to something in the actual picture. The second question oftentimes does the same thing, but tries to draw out a bit of thought. The third question usually asks something a little deeper. The maturity of your child will determine how deeply s/he answers. It provides ample opportunities for marvelously rich conversation about our own flesh, Christ's redemptive power, how we are being sanctified (made more like Christ), etc. All of this can still be discussed with young children, as well as older ones! Parents only need to scale the depth of conversation to their children and their family.
One last fun note: The artwork is amazing. Really. It is unexpected. It is bright, cheerful, and engaging. And it grows on you the more you use the book. I feel happy after looking at it, and so do my kids!
We have missed using this book this year, so I'll be ordering Machowski's Long Story Short and Old Story New to use for the next two school years. My kids and I can hardly wait!!
What can compare to the imagination of a child? Read a Bible story to a little mind, and the creative juices flowing through his brain will bring the tale to life in vivid detail. Of course, it helps if the story is interesting and there are fascinating pictures on each page.
Enter The Gospel Story Bible. Covering Genesis to Revelation, this is the complete picture book for telling God's story from beginning to end. Every story includes three poignant questions to stimulate discussion around the dinner table or the coffee table.
The colors are rich, vivid, and eye-poppingly brilliant. Children will be irresistibly drawn to look at every single page with all of the creative illustrations. (I had a hard time putting the book down so I could write this review!) There are 156 stories, and not one boring page in the entire book.
Children and adults alike need to hear the message of the Bible. Jesus said in Matthew 18:3, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Simple, child-like faith is all that is required to please God.
I once heard someone say, "It is a sin to teach the Bible in a boring way." How can the story of the infinite, amazing Creator of such a breathtaking universe be anything but utterly exhilarating and enthralling? This book fits the bill: a captivating retelling of the greatest story ever.
Every page of Holy Scripture exudes the presence of Jesus. By keeping the focus on Jesus throughout every story, this author presents the individual episodes of the Bible as part of a coherent whole. While the Bible had many writers over the centuries, it ultimately had only one Author; and every part of the Bible points to God's plan to rescue fallen humanity through the Savior, His Son, Jesus.of Nazareth.
I love that the book does not end with the ascension. There is a wealth of stories and truths from the Acts through the Revelation that our children should be familiarized with.
WHO SHOULD READ THIS BOOK
Fathers who desire to leave their children the godly heritage and memories of Bible stories heard on their daddy's lap.
I love the idea of this type of story Bible. However, after reading a selection of the stories included, my review is a bit mixed.
The project is a great one! To tell the entire story of the Bible and show how every story points toward Jesus and how all the "individual" stories are really part of one larger story. Excellent!
The stories are based on the ESV translation, which is my personal preference.The stories are very close to the actual Scripture, with only a little bit of "commentary" added.
Each story is only one or two pages, so it's a great length for reading to younger children.
Each story combines portions of Scripture which might otherwise be under several headings, which gives a nice overview of the entire story without it being too long. For instance, the story of the birth of Christ includes both the wisemen (which is only recorded in Matthew) and the shepherds (which is only included in Luke) which then makes one bigger story to help children see the whole picture.
The book is incredibly colorful and the pictures are unique. These are not your typical "Sunday school" drawings.
In the beginning of the book are wonderful suggestions on how to use this as a resource with your children. I especially appreciated the author's suggestion to use this book as a launching point to read the same story in Scripture.
While the notes in the beginning indicate that this would be best used with preschoolers or younger grade school students, I actually think this would be better-suited for older grade school students. At that age, however, I think a "young readers" Bible would be the best option.
The author uses big words that most preschoolers will not understand. Many of the terms and phrases are fairly abstract and would go over most kids' heads.
While I LOVE the idea of tying each story to the gospel and pointing to Christ (even from the Old Testament), the "commentary" that was added to each story was often complexâ€”mentioning multiple people in one story (such as Paul said this and King David said that) or attempting to explain the Trinity in one sentence as a tie-in to the story of creation. It was at times difficult for me to follow, so children would no doubt have similar struggles.
The structure of the stories was another concern for me. Twenty-six (excellent!) stories were taken from Genesis. However, the birth of Christ was covered in one story. I would have liked to see it broken up into a few other pieces - for instance, the angel appearing to Mary, the birth of John the Baptist, etc.
The layout of the text is not very kid-friendly. The text is small and all on one page. I think it would be better for each story to be 4-6 pages in length so the text could "breathe" a little bit. The font size may make it difficult for children to read without help.
Each story included three questions for discussion. It seemed that most of the questions were actually in regards to the picture without tying it into the story, which is the most important part.
The pictures were very complex and interesting (which was great for me as an adult). However, I think they are too complex and abstract for young children.
Overall, I like the concept of The Gospel Story Bible. However, with the tie-in from Old Testament to New Testament being so complicated, I would not recommend using this with young children. This could be a great resource for family worship with older grade schoolers or even pre-teens since the stories are so concise and would give a launching point for much deeper discussion. For younger children, I would recommend another resource. A curriculum based on this story Bible is forthcoming, so that may help unpack some of the deeper topics mentioned.
As the father of five daughters, I have had ample occasions to read Children's Bible storybooks. The majority of such storybooks are quite simple and to the point. They don't often interact with the story at a child's level other than to make the tale more imaginative and seem more story-like. Few storybooks really serve believing parents well.
"The Gospel Story Bible" by Marty Machowski (New Growth Press, 2011) is much different. It is uniquely designed to help facilitate the parents' task of teaching their children the Gospel, as they recount the various stories in the Bible. The stories include discussion questions at the end, and are usually presented in a fairly straight-forward, stick-to-the-text manner. Sometimes, however, a little more explanation is woven into the story. And each story wraps up with an application to the Gospel or to the flow of redemptive history. The book's emphasis is on communicating the Gospel intent of the Bible stories rather than on wowing the children and parents with how imaginative a reshaping of the Scriptural story this new storybook can provide.
My children appreciate the sheer number of Bible stories covered by this book (78 stories from each testament) - many of which are not addressed in other, smaller Bible storybooks. And the vivid colors and interesting illustrations also enthrall their young minds. The illustration style is unique and more artistic than you'd expect. The intent is not to depict a true-to-life version of the story so much as to provide an intriguing image that illustrates it. For my part, I think this style is perfectly suited to the book's overall feel with its bright and colorful pages. Sometimes the smaller font, which is often colored white against a dark color background, can be hard to read however. But the size of the font helps keep the stories at two pages in length, allowing the book to stay fairly compact even as it covers a large number of stories. The glossy hardcover makes the book attractive yet also keeps it sturdy and durable.
The author's aim in producing this book is stated in its sub-title: "Discovering Jesus in the Old and New Testaments." And the book dovetails well with a Sunday School curriculum covering both the Old and New Testaments that has also been developed by the author (and published by New Growth Press). This curricula along with the storybook, would also serve well in a homeschool setting, as children of a wide variety of ages will be blessed and instructed through this material.
I encourage Christian parents everywhere to pick up a copy of this book. Check out some sample pages and even explore the available SS material as well. We would be remiss not to add one more tool to our arsenal as we aim to teach our children the Bible. And of course just learning facts isn't the key, we hope they learn and embrace the Gospel. And this is what makes "The Gospel Story Bible" so compelling. I highly recommend this book.
Disclaimer: This book was provided by New Growth Press for review. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.
"....the gospel narrative of how God redeemed a broken world through sending His son Jesus...."
Marty Machowski beckons families to take time out from the daily grind to be transformed by the message of the Gospel of Jesus in his newest release, Gospel Story Bible: Discovering Jesus in the Old and New Testaments.
Colorfully illustrated and beautifully printed in vibrant color, the stories that are just the right length to read to a child at bedtime. The focus is on Jesus presented in both the Old and New Testaments. A directed "Let's Talk About It" section of three questions meant to inspire learning through discussion facilitates learning the deeper teachings of each individual story.
The book's intended audience is the young pre-school to middle school age child. It can be utilized for the very young, the middle and high school age student, as well as an adult. Adaptations will of necessity need to be made for the younger child to understand as the wording and actual depiction is above their attention and understanding.
I found it to be a beautifully rendered book in print form. However, once you get past the brilliant coloration of the pictures and actual pages, you find that the type is smallish and actually difficult to read as presented with color backgrounds and contrasting type coloration. The artist has rendered the characters interesting. The style is not one I would choose, but I am certain it will be appealing to some. As I said, the colors are beautiful, brilliant, and the book is sturdy and well made.
I see this as a theologically sound story book of Bible stories presenting the Gospel as it flows throughout the Old and New Testament. The theme is Jesus and redemption.
My perception is that parents can use this book as a teaching tool for devotions with their children. It will be a refresher for the older child or for the adult on details of the Bible stories as well as an opportunity for the adult who is not well-versed in Bible to learn.
Author: Marty Machowski is a Family Life Pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, PA. He has served on the pastoral staff there for 23 years. He leads the church's children's ministry. He has authored Long Story Short: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God and a forthcoming Sunday School curriculum. Illustrated By: A.E. Macha
Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher via B&B Media Group. I was not required to render a positive review.