Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Faithgirlz! and Boys Bibles

I was pleased to receive copies of the NIV Faithgirlz! and NIV Boys Bibles for review. These have been developed for children 9 to 12 years old, adding a number of features to the New International Version text of the Scriptures. Both Bibles have topical indexes of Bible verses, blank pages for journaling, and introductions to each book that state clearly who wrote it, why they wrote it, for whom they wrote it, when it was written, and what are some of the book's important teachings.

Faithgirlz! has material designed to let tween girls imagine themselves in the story as "Dream Girls," "Treasure This" words to live by for memorization, and "Oh I Get It" answers to Bible questions. The Boys Bible has highlighted verses for memorizing, fun facts about Bible times and characters, "Makin' It Real" help for applying Bible stories to tween lives, and - what I am sure will be a much-read section by boys - "Grossology," gross and gory stuff boys never knew was in the Scriptures ("If it oozes, bleeds, smells, or make your spine tingle, it's in the Bible"). These features are interspersed with the Scriptural text in both Bibles.

I outsourced the Faithgirlz! review to a 10 year old girl. She was very pleased with this Bible. She found the features very interesting, and liked the "Bring It On!" bubbles in particular - these are short quizzes about life issues that lead to applicable Bible verses. For example:
I have trouble being patient when:
A. Other people act stupid.
B. Someone does something to me and just expects me to forgive them.
C. I try to be good but things get in the way.

If you answered:
A. Go to Romans 15:1-6.
B. Go to Colossians 3:12-13.
C. Go to Hebrews 12:1-3.

She also appreciated the two indexes: Promises From the Bible lists God's promises when you are...sick, confused, impatient, and so on, and helpful Bible verses for each; and Perspectives From the Bible, what the Bible says about anxiety, compassion, love, revenge, etc. The same indexes are in the Boys Bible. Her mother looked at the Faithgirlz! website and was very impressed at the range of material, not just the Bible but fiction, devotionals, and other non-fiction, all intended for tween girls discovering "the beauty of believing."

She did comment that the font is quite small and it's easy for a tween reader to lose focus on the page. With all of the extra material, the publisher, Zondervan, likely found it difficult to use a larger font size in a 1480-page volume.

So thanks to my reviewer! Overall, these are great resources for pre-teens in the target age group. As a minister in a liberal Protestant denomination, I can critique the exclusive use of masculine pronouns for God and the literal approach to Biblical authorship (for instance, scholars are pretty certain that Paul did not write the letters to Timothy or Titus). But I realize that parents are searching for Biblical resources that will engage their tweens, and these pre-teens are looking to be engaged with a Biblical text that has features added to appeal to them. My generation had to make do with the unadorned King James Bible; when we were teens the Good News Translation ("Good News For Modern Man") came along. Perhaps we would have read more closely if our Bibles had Grossology or Dream Girls features.

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