Choosing a Children’s Bible at a Child’s Reading Level
Published: December 30, 2022
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:
- Count the words and sentences in a passage of 100 or more words.
- Divide the number of words by the number of sentences to get an average sentence length.
- 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.”
- Add the average sentence length from step 2 and the number of difficult words from step 3.
- 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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