OLD Testament, New Testimonies

Children love stories of the Old Testament. And why not? Like other early-reader favorites, Bible stories brim with high adventure, bravery, heroism and clear moral themes in which goodness is rewarded and evil punished.

From Eden to the ark to the lion's den and beyond, the oldest written records of our faith not only offer engaging stories but also introduce salvation history, communicate Judeo-Christian values and nurture the beginning of an early Catholic literary life.

Stories of the Old Testament are about many things, but most of all, they are concerned with relationships — not only the fascinating relationships among God's people, but also about the all important, continuously faithful love relationship that God has with his children.

Here, we offer an invitation to explore these relationships with some Old Testament favorites for a wide range of young readers, toddlers through adolescents.


written and illustrated by Magdalena Kim, FSP translated from Korean by Gratia Chang, FSP edited and adapted by Patricia Edward Jablonski, FSP

Pauline, 2001

32 pages, $6.95

To order: (800) 836-9723 or www.pauline.org/store

Two little angels are eyewitnesses to the creation. Toddlers will enjoy shadowing these mischievous cherubs as they playfully dart through clouds and hop rides on porpoises, delighting in God's handiwork. “God, what will you make today?” they ask.

From flowers to fish to flying birds and, finally, to the first man and woman, God's loving responses prove eye-openingly awesome. Ages 2 to 5.


retold and illustrated

by Lucy Cousins

Candlewick, 2004

22 pages, $6.99


The story of Noah's Ark is more than a rainy-day diversion — it's a reminder of God's call to holiness, a sign of his work in our lives and a promise of his ongoing faithfulness. These are worthwhile lessons for even the littlest of readers. This version is true to the biblical text, complete with animals marching two-by-two, forty days of rain and a rainbow reminder of God's covenant. Features vivid, primitive-styled illustrations and easy-to-understand language, all in durable board-book design. Ages 2 to 5.



retold and illustrated

by Jean Marzollo

Little, Brown, 2003

32 pages, $15.95


The story of Moses takes on a whole new dimension when viewed through the eyes of big sister Miriam. Jean Marzollo breathes new life into the record of the great liberator, leader, lawgiver, prophet and historian — all while highlighting the impact of Miriam's gentle acts of faith, courage and love. This picture book is full of Bible history and enhanced by engaging watercolor illustrations. Chatty fish swim along the bottom of each page, where they ask relevant questions and clarify historical elements. Children will be encouraged to join in by singing a whole series of songs with Miriam, all set to the simple tune of You Are My Sunshine. This warm, interactive text serves as a reminder that even God's heroes were children at one time and that no one is ever too young to make a difference. Ages 4 to 8.


by Jenny Koralek

illustrated by Pauline Baynes

Eerdmans, 2003

28 pages, $16.00


Yet another Moses book? Sure enough! More than just a memorable account of how Moses was rescued from his floating cradle, this book also has colorful illustrations that offer a glimpse of his times. Teachers and homeschooling parents can use the pictures to introduce young readers to this Bible story or to prompt discussion among older kids about the Nile, water fowl, animals, clothing and slavery in ancient Egypt. Ages 4 to 8.



by Michael McCarthy

illustrated by Giuliano Ferri

Barefoot Books, 2003

32 pages, $16.99

To order: (866) 417-2369

or www.barefoot-books.com

Jealous members of the court conspire to kill Daniel, charging that his faith in God has made him disloyal to the king. In this rhymed retelling of a favorite Old Testament story, Father Michael McCarthy sets the stage (“Soon the lions were on their feet/It was long past their time to eat”) and creates suspense (“When Daniel stepped inside the pit/The lions thought, ‘Mmm! This is it!’”). An inspired choice for helping children to understand the power of faith and prayer in times of trouble. Ages 4 to 8.



written and illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein

Simon & Schuster, 2000

32 pages, $16

To order: www.simonsays.com or in bookstores

This picture book introduces Queen Esther and her cousin Mordicai, along with King Ahasuerus and Haman, the evil prime minister. When Mordicai refuses, out of love for God, to bow down to Haman, the prime minister schemes to have all Jews killed in Persia. Esther, who has not revealed to the king that she is a Jew, must find a way to save her people. This is a great story for kids in which the good folks prevail and bad boy Haman comes to a sorry end. Being true to oneself and true to God is the underlying theme. Ages 5 to 10.



retold and illustrated by Marcia Williams

Candlewick, 2004

40 pages, $15.99

To order: www.candlewick.com or in bookstores

Using a creative comic-book format, Williams delivers eleven Old Testament tales in an informative yet whimsical manner. Similar in style to the popular Magic School Bus series, this book presents information through multiple modes. Readers can follow the basic storyline by reading just the text. More insights (and fun facts) appear in the illustrations and accompanying dialogue. Best of all, the author-illustrator never allows readers to lose sight of the supernatural elements in these familiar stories. Each tale clearly depicts God's role in the lives of his people. Ongoing commentary from sidebar angels and a wily serpent figure presents a child-appropriate glimpse of spiritual battle. The meaty content and clever format of this book should appeal to book lovers and reluctant readers alike. Ages 9 to 12.



written by Walter Dean Myers

illustrated by Christopher Myers

Scholastic, 2003

127 pages, $19.95,

To order: (800) 770-4662 or www.scholastic.com

In this provocative collection, six Old Testament stories are retold from a first-person point of view. Each story has a “you-are-there” feel that will help readers to imagine what it might have really been like to walk in Ruth's shoes as she followed Naomi, to experience toxic sibling rivalry like Reuben and Joseph, or to feel the pulls of love and loyalty like Delilah and Samson. Yellow-washed pages, collage illustrations and creative design work make this a remarkably attractive young-adult text. Thoughtful reading for adolescents. Ages 13 and up.

Patricia A. Crawford writes from Winter Park, Florida.

Kerry A. Crawford writes from Pittsburgh.