Once Upon the Bible


However, kids under age 8 tend to think
literally. You can still use hooks to introduce Bible stories, but
it’s best to save abstract connections for older kids. Help kids
around ages 6 to 8 make simple comparisons. Ask, “How do you think
Pinocchio felt in the stomach of the whale? How would you feel if
you got swallowed by a whale? Even though Pinocchio’s story is
pretend, there’s a true story in the Bible about a man who was
swallowed by a big fish.”

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What Kids Know

It’s easy to take what kids know and help draw them closer to
God because certain stories and themes are ingrained in their
culture. Take for example the story “Cinderella.” Throughout the
whole world, various versions of “Cinderella” share similar
thematic elements. In China, there’s “Lin Lan”; in France, they
have the story of “Donkeyskin.” In these stories, especially in the
Grimms’ version of “Cinderella,” the story follows a plot similar
to the book of Esther. Both Cinderella and Esther greatly need
friends and mentors. They’re both left virtually alone and deemed
culturally inferior, yet meeting their Prince Charmings
dramatically redeems their situations. Each woman went from
unvalued to invaluable and from ashes to glory — a vivid picture
of Christ’s redemption of each one of us.

“Cinderella” can be used to introduce the Bible story of Esther
and reinforce Psalm 40:2-3: “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out
of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm
place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to
our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the

Literary scholars often look for the Christ figure in
literature. And they find that figure in literature from cultures
and countries all over the world. Why? Perhaps because writers have
borrowed from the Bible. Or perhaps the very essence of our need
for salvation is written into the fiber of our souls. Perhaps the
gospel is written on our hearts. The point is not which came first;
the point is that inherently, the story of the gospel contains
something familiar, something we know we need — and it’s repeated
in thousands of ways in hundreds of cultures and languages.

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Fairy tales can introduce children to biblical truth just as
other culturally specific media, such as books, movies, and
personal stories, can contain elements useful for teaching truth.
God can redeem the culture for his kingdom. Jesus used stories that
first-century Christians could understand in the context of their
culture, and we can do the same.


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