The Big Picture Story Bible – David R. Helm

(Old Facebook Post – Updated)

Our oldest daughter’s favorite Christmas gift in 2012 was [amazon text=The Big Picture Story Bible&asin=1433543117], by David R. Helm.

[amazon template=thumbnail11&asin=1433543117]Lots of children’s Bible story books do a good job telling individual Bible stories, but few do a good job telling the “big picture” of our promise-keeping God–redeeming his people, to live in his place, in his presence, under his kingship, obeying his word, forever. This Bible story book tells the big story well. It also has large, colorful pictures that skilfully reinforce connections between key events of the biblical story. And it comes with 2 well-produced, reasonably-pleasant audio CDs (one OT, one NT), so children’s listening is not limited by parent’s reading time.

Many (seemingly most) children’s Bible story books add a lot of extra-biblical content. Without fail, I find some of that content unhelpful. A great strength of this book is that it has very few such additions. (The only one I recall is how it plays up Caesar’s role as an opponent of the true King: “How will everyone know that I am the great Caesar, the Roman ruler, the king of the world? I know! I will count all the people under my rule…” This is a theologically acceptable addition to the biblical narrative.)

This book has been one more tool to help our children form a mental timeline of biblical history, tracing the “spine” of redemptive history. With this spine in place, we can attach all the other “ribs”–the individual stories that a book like this can’t include (such as Cain and Abel, Esau, Gideon, Samson, Ruth, Saul, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jonah, Esther, Daniel, etc.). Highly recommended!

Here’s Amazon’s blurb:

“No child is too young to begin learning about the greatest love story of all—God’s love for his people, as portrayed in the Bible. David Helm and Gail Schoonmaker have together created a colorful book of Bible stories written especially for children ages 2–7. Rather than simply retelling portions of the Bible, this book presents the big picture—the unified story running through the Old and New Testaments. Twenty-six stories together form parts of this big picture.

Simply written and beautifully illustrated, this book teaches children the Bible’s whole story so they can begin to appreciate the fulfillment of God’s promise to his people. The Big Picture Story Bible is perfect for parents to read to their children and for older children to read on their own.

First published in 2004, The Big Picture Story Bible has been widely praised and used by parents. It now comes with an audio recording of the book, read by the author and presented on two CDs, one each for the Old and New Testaments. Great for Sunday school classes and trips in the car [the book might be a bit heavy for that?], children can listen to the text and follow along in the book.”

 Five stars.
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4 thoughts on “The Big Picture Story Bible – David R. Helm”

  1. What age level is this book most appropriate/useful for?
    Also, you mention it includes a limited number of Bible Stories. How big is the book and how broad is its inclusion?
    The idea of a single narrative view of the Bible is one that has been growing on me and has changed the way I read and think about the Bible, and any resources for helping my children grasp this concept are welcome.
    L. S.

    1. I’d say this book is especially suitable for toddlers through about Grade 1 or 2. Some older children might also enjoy it. It is a picture book, with only 1 or 2 short paragraphs of text on each page. Physically the book is about 9-1/4″ by 9-1/4″ by 1-5/16″ thick. So it’s heavy. It has 453 pages, with the NT portion starting at page 229, so it’s about evenly divided. The OT portion has 11 parts, which I’ll summarize topically like this: (1) Creation. (2) The Fall. (3) Post-Fall sin and the Flood. (4) God’s promise to Abraham. (5) The growth of the nation of Israel (mentions Isaac and Jacob and focuses on Joseph). (6) Jacob moves to Egypt, Moses is born, first 9 plagues. (7) Exodus, Red Sea crossing, giving of Law, 40 years in wilderness. (8) Joshua, entering Canaan, Israel’s rebellion, God gives David as king. (9) Building of temple, Solomon’s reign. (10) Solomon’s sin, Israel’s apostacy, Elijah and contest on Mt. Carmel, exile of northern and southern kingdoms. (11) Prophets (Ezekiel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel all mentioned briefly), return from exile, rebuilding of temple.

      Those are most of the individual stories/names included in the OT section. But the real power of this book is how it ties all these bits together into a bibically-faithfuly coherent narrative, centered around God’s word, God’s people, God’s place for his people, and God’s k/King, etc., all with a goal of building faith. The text of the book ends with these words: “God’s forever people will one day live in God’s forever place under God’s forever rule. Can you believe it? Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”

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