I have been around the world of Bible translations for over 20 years now. One of the first versions I used after I got saved (i.e., became a Christian) was the New International Version (hereafter known as NIV). The basis of the Bible under review is the New International Reader's Version. The NIrV is a simplified version of the NIV. Written at a 3rd grade reading level, it is intended for children, those with reading disabilities, and folks learning English. The NIrV was first released in the mid-1990s and has been revised since then (the 2014 revision is the basis of this review). The translation aside, I grew up with the Berenstain Bears, so this was a perfect match.
I found out about this revision from a web blog ran by a friend of mine and later got the Bible at a local discount store. The physical hardcover book is done very well. The covers have pictures of the Berenstain Bears on the front, back, and spine. The base pattern shows blue polka dots. Overall it is pleasant to look at. The inside is even better. The type size is a large 12px type size which is uncommon in these type of Bibles. The Berenstain Bears make cameo appearances throughout glossy inserts that show drawings of them, a virtue and a select verse related to that virtue. While they are nice, they do not have any relevance to the passages where they appear. In a way the layout reminds of the Children's Easy-to-Read Bible published by the Bible League. In that case, the glossy inserts are of Bible stories and not the Berenstain Bears. This is the only real quibble I have with this Bible. The helps make up for the inserts. The back contains a glossary with various words defined. A reading plan built around Bible stories is also included. For those who like the study the Bible, the list of verses not included in the of New Testament is very helpful. I wish all versions did this!
Moving on the translation, I can defiantly say it's an interesting update. The NIrV translators state that the translation "has been revised to include the changes of the New International Version" made in recent years. I believe this is an understatement. One of the big changes I noticed in my reading is that gender-inclusive language has been added. While the propriety of this is debatable, it is in a way ironic as the cause of the last revision of the NIrV was the use of gender-inclusive language! A verse I use to test a translation's handling of gender is Genesis 1:27. The previous revision of the NIrV used "man"; this has been changed to "human beings" (the 1984 edition of the NIV used "man"; the 2011 NIV uses "mankind"). Another big change I have seen while reading is how the phrase "the Jews" is treated. In recent years some translations have tried to distinguish between the people and the leaders of Judea; it appears this attempts to reduce the perception of antisemitism in the New Testament. Here are some examples from John. John 5:10 has the "Jewish leaders" objecting to the healing at the pool of Bethsada (the NIV 2011 has the same rendering; the previous NIrV and the 1984 NIV have "Jews"). John 19:14 has Pilate bringing Jesus outside after his trial. The NIrV keeps "Jews" in this verse, sharing the same rendering with the previous NIrV and the 1984 and 2011 NIVs. For comparison the New Living Translation uses "people" in the verse. Another change drops the word "selah" from the Psalms and Habakkuk. I've never really noticed the word in reading these books, so I can't say if the change is good or bad.
In conclusion, who is this Bible for? It is for all of us! If you are a parent and your child likes the Berenstain Bears, then I recommend it for them. I also recommend this Bible for adults who want to have the NIrV for study, learning English or have issues with reading. I say this because the Berenstain Bears imagery is kept to a minimum; this makes it easy for adults to ignore it if they so wish. However if you are an parent or adult who has issues with gender-inclusive language, then I would recommend fining an older edition of the NIrV. I hope this review has been helpful to you.
The only thing about this particular bible is it is so big and heavy for little hands. Other than that, I adore it. So do my grandchildren. I love that Christian books has so many varieties of bibles available for little ones. If there is one thing they need to be familiar with, it is the bible!
The Berenstain Bear's Bible is a great buy for anyone who desires a Bible that is easier to read and provides quick quotes. I love the colour pages inserted throughout the book because they are fun to show the kids. People thought I was off my rocker when I decided to order this Bible for myself (I am a univ. graduate in my 20s) but I enjoy having different Bibles.