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A mom is reading the Bible with her three children, ranging from elementary age kids to a teenager.
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Choosing a Children’s Bible at a Child’s Reading Level

The challenge in choosing the right children’s Bible is to pick one that communicates God’s message in a way children can read and understand. Remember that each situation is unique. First consider the child, the setting, and the purpose for which the Bible is intended. A children’s Bible should meet kids at their level.

When considering readability in a children’s Bible, look for these features:

  • Simple vocabulary and short sentences with an average of 10 to 12 words each;
  • Paragraphs, rather than verses, to help kids group thoughts together;
  • Few idiomatic expressions (for example, what will a child understand from “The Lord’s hand was against them”?);
  • Modern equivalents (for example, a cubit=18 inches); and
  • Subheads that divide the text into units.

The reading level of the translation is also an important consideration. Many children’s Bibles are camouflaged adult Bibles—hard-to-read Bibles with kidlike covers. Use these translations and reading levels as a guide:

  • Twelfth Grade: King James Version (KJV)
  • Eleventh Grade: New American Standard Bible (NASB)
  • Tenth Grade: English Standard Version (ESV)
  • Eighth Grade: Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
  • Seventh Grade: New International Version (NIV)
  • Sixth Grade: New Living Translation (NLT)
  • Third Grade: New Century Version (NCV)
  • Third Grade: New International Readers Version (NIRV)

Calculate the grade level of any Bible with Gunning’s Fog Index. Or follow these five easy steps:

  1. Count the words and sentences in a passage of 100 or more words.
  2. Divide the number of words by the number of sentences to get an average sentence length.
  3. Count the number of words with three or more syllables, excluding proper names, combinations of easy words, and words that contain three or more syllables because of suffixes such as “-ed,” “-es,” and “-ing.”
  4. Add the average sentence length from step 2 and the number of difficult words from step 3.
  5. Multiply the sum from step 4 by 0.4 to determine the grade level.

Interested in finding age-appropriate children’s Bibles? Check out the Hands-On Bible for kids and the My First Hands-On Bible for preschoolers! Want more articles for children’s ministry leaders? Check these out.

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