Every now and then my wife and I look for a good children's Bible to give to relatives or friends who we know will appreciate it and actually read it to their children at bedtime to familiarize them with the classic Bible stories that have lain at the foundation of our culture and faith for thousands of years.
It's not that easy, actually. A lot of children's Bibles emphasize good theology over good storytelling, which is odd when you consider that the authors of the Scripture had the opposite approach. Other times they'll couch things in familiar terms that are utterly ridiculous on their face, such as referring to the temple or the tabernacle as a "church," and to priests as pastors or ministers. And it can be embarrassing the way they avoid uncomfortable aspects of the stories and paint people in stark good-or-evil terms, like the way Joseph is depiocted as the righteous brother who tests his evil brothers to see if they've changed. (Yeah, like he wasn't planning to kill or humiliate them when God put their lives in his hands. All those threats and reversals weren't the product of a man struggling with bitterness and unresolved anger, they were just a "test.")
My own favorite children's Bible is one that has been out of print for thirty years, but that's beside the point. Hurlbut's Story of the Bible seems like it might be a good choice, except the editors have decided that children today are too stupid to understand all the big words. From the back cover, as quoted on Amazon:
This new edition, with a new name, new cover, and updated and simplified text for today's children, introduces a whole new generation to this timeless classic. From Genesis to Revelation, the 127 Bible stories retold come alive and are enhanced by 30 new, awe-inspiring color and black-and-white art pieces by Joel Spector. Printed in large and clear type, this more than 460-page book will keep young listeners spell-bound as it assists parents in the age-old custom of telling their children stories from the Bible.
Simplified text? Sheesh. So much for setting the bar high and encouraging children to reach for the stars. No wonder we're fostering a generation of cultural illiterates, if "classic" works have to be stripped down to pieces small enough for the parents to understand them.