by Candice Watters
As soon as our firstborn was old enough for a train, we shelled out the bucks for an HO Gauge setup. The whole thing was contained in a big box the size of our dining room table and included a mountain encircling a countryside and town nestled in a shining valley below. The half-inch-wide, three inches-long trains zipped around the two-tiered tracks providing hours of delightful play for our five-year-old … until he derailed the trains with too much speed, and played with them like MatchBox cars, and let his little sister hold them. The more he played with them, the harder it was to line up the tiny wheels on the track with the precision needed for them to go. He eventually decided it would be fun to create a demolition scene in the tiny town. The rugged-looking mountain crumbled in all its painted foam glory, never to rise again. The trains didn’t fare much better.
We figured a little kid would enjoy little trains. Rookie mistake. Have you noticed the jumbo-sized crayons in the church nursery? Big crayons are easier for little hands to hold–and harder for them to break. Trains are like crayons. Only more expensive. After our big, small-train investment a train enthusiast told us we should have bought the more oversized G Gauge trains for our son.
I thought we’d learned our lesson. Last Easter we skipped the chocolate eggs and gave our kids coupons for books. Our second son was excited to use his for a Bible all his own. He wanted to grow beyond the Storybook Bibles he had been using before. Even though we had an excellent storybook Bible, it was frustrating to him when he’d try to find the chapter we were reading in Acts only to get stuck, weeks on end, on the same two-page illustrated account of Paul’s missionary journeys. Limited each night to that shipwreck image, he knew he wasn’t working with the same book as everyone else.
With his coupon, he chose a handsome student Bible wrapped in plastic. Our new reader was eager to join in on family Bible reading times where everyone helps with the reading. Every time we rounded the table for his turn, he jumped in with enthusiasm. But there was a problem. He kept losing his place, and skipping lines, and missing words. Only then did I look more closely at the version he had chosen: small print. Like the trains and the crayons, this was a Bible for kids older than he. For young children–even pre-readers and brand-new readers–larger print, unabridged Bibles are the way to go.
We never did replace that tiny train set with bigger gauge locomotives, but we’re committed to finding Bibles for all of our kids that are well-suited to their ages and reading abilities. There’s so much to choose from–an embarrassment of riches in Bible publishing in our day. For ESV users, check out the ESV Holy Bible for Kids and the ESV Seek and Find Bible (pictured above, on left). Anything we parents can do to foster a love for God’s Word in our children is worth the extra effort.
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