Bible Favorites: One Sentence Storybooks, written by Nancy I. Sanders and illustrated by Hannah Wood
[Note: These books were provided free of charge by Tyndale Press in exchange for an honest review.]
Although it has been more than three decades since I was an avid reader of this sort of book, I do know quite a few children in various stages of pre-literacy and early literacy that would almost certainly appreciate this book, and so even though the ten books included in this set are all far simpler books than I am used to reviewing, they are books that will be appreciated by parents seeking to teach their children how to read, and include a bit of bonus material for those interested in more than the basic structure of the books. Indeed, all of these books, for their immense simplicity, show an elegant pattern that can easily be copied for far more volumes if there is interest on the part of the author and illustrator and enough demand to make it profitable for the publisher.
The ten books are organized in a very consistent way that shows admirable attention to detail and a certain pedagogical value. Each book goes through eight pages–four of text building up to a sentence and four showing the picture of what has been said so far, to build the sentence for the picture on the cover. Then, afterward, there is a page with four key nouns/objects in the sentence and the pictures for them, and then another page that has one truth to learn that comes from the text, one verse to say relating to the theme of the sentence, and one prayer to say that is short and simple and mostly involves Jesus (as might be expected). After that there comes a section that asks questions of the reader, such as finding objects of a certain color or design, finding a certain shape, and thinking of a word that rhymes with a word expressed by a new picture. It would seem as if this attention to detail gives the books at least some reread value at different stages of early reading. The initial sentences are suitable for young children just learning to read, but those who are bored by the initial sentence are likely to find the Bible verse and questions of more interest, at least for a while, which is a savvy technique to introduce some basic Bible stories.
The content of these ten small books is of interest as well, as they cover a wide variety of familiar biblical stories. The stories included (in numbered volumes 1 through 10 in the collection I read) a story of the creation, of Noah’s ark, Moses and the burning bush, David & Goliath, Nehehmiah hand the rebuilding of the wall, the stars and wise men and Jesus’ birth, Jesus walking on the water, the parable of the Good Shepherd, the parable of the prodigal son, and the angel rolling the stone away from Jesus’ grave after His resurrection. The stories are evenly divided between the Hebrew scriptures and the New Testament, are greatly simplified to avoid difficult names or concepts, and the stories invite kids to think but do not present particularly challenging concepts at least. The drawings are cartoony though some readers may object to the portrayal of Jesus Christ or angels in a stereotypical and inaccurate fashion. These minor flaws aside, the books are cute and ought to combine very rudimentary lessons in some of what the Bible says while hopefully spurring additional thought and study. One is never too young to develop a curiosity in the Word, after all.