The Once Upon a Time Bible and Storybook Bible from Zondervan

I’ve said before that I’m a little picky about kids’ Bible- especially about storybook Bibles. I think it’s so important that we communicate to kids that the Bible is different from other books. It’s true. And it’s God’s inspired, holy Word. I love it when a Bible is designed to appeal to kids but still maintains the integrity of Scripture.

I recently had the opportunity to review the Once Upon a Time Bible and Once Upon a Time Storybook Bible from Zondervan. Do they pass my test for kids’ Bibles? Hmmm.

Review of the Once Upon a Time Bible

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The Once Upon a Time Bible

This Bible is the New International Readers Version. The Bible is colorful, and the picture on the front has a man and woman who are looking lovingly at each other. (Think a scene from a princess story.) Throughout the Bible are six colorful set apart stories. Each story begins with the Bible reference from which the story is taken. The stories are paraphrases or summaries of the Bible passages, not the actual Scripture.

The Once Upon a Time Storybook Bible

This book is larger than a Bible. It too has colorful art on the cover, depicting a man and woman in love- this time obviously a king and queen. Throughout the book are stories from the Old Testament and the New Testament. Each story has a Bible verse at the beginning, although it’s not necessarily from the Scripture from which the story is taken. Each of these stories begins with the words “Once upon a time” and ends with a Happily Ever After section that summarizes the story, gives an application moral, and has the actual Scripture passage that the story is taken from recorded. There are thirty-three stories, each a few pages long.

The Good…

  • Both of these are beautiful books. The cover art will definitely draw kids- especially little girls who love princess stories.
  • I love the New International Readers Version for kids. The words are generally much easier for kids to read.
  • I’m glad that the stories- both throughout the Bible and in the storybook Bible- have Scripture references included. This can help parents look up the actual story in the Bible with kids.

The Bad…

The print size in the Once Upon a Time Bible is very small. I know my older kids would have difficulty with it, not to mention younger kids who could probably read the New International Readers Version but who wouldn’t be able to handle the very small print.
My main concern with both of these is the confusion between the Bible and a fairy tale. I emphasize to any kids that I teach- in Sunday School, children’s choir, Wednesday night church programs- that the Bible isn’t just a story. It’s the true Word of God. I don’t even really like to call it a “Bible story” when I teach because I think that can be confusing to kids. So these Once Upon a Time Bibles concern me. 
Both books have a small banner on the front that says, “The Bible is not a fairy tale. Every great story happened once upon a time.” I think this is included to try to get across the idea that the Bible isn’t just a story. But that idea is contradicted when stories in the storybook Bible then begin with “Once upon a time” and end with “Happily Every After.” I think kids could definitely confuse the Bible for a fairy tale.
Both books also have “love” pictures on the covers. They look like any “princess meets handsome prince” fairy tale from the covers. I think this will add to the confusion about what the Bible really is about. These covers don’t emphasize that the Bible- from cover to cover- is about Jesus Christ. Yes, there are love stories in the Bible. But the whole Bible points to Christ. And I’m not sure kids will get that with the Once Upon a Time Bibles.
Although the Once Upon a Time Bible and Storybook Bible are beautiful books that probably will appeal to little girls especially, I would use caution with these.

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