The top children’s Bible in the world is the Adventure Bible (Zonderkidz), published more than 30 years ago and now having more than 9 million copies in print. What makes it so popular? Why have parents, grandparents, and children all been drawn to it throughout the decades? Bible Gateway interviewed Sue Richards.
When was the Adventure Bible first published and what has been its success?
Sue Richards: It was first published in 1989 with full NIV text. Today it’s the bestselling children’s Bible in the country and has been for a long time.
Who is the Adventure Bible for and how does it meet their needs?
Sue Richards: The Adventure Bible has always been for children. Dr. Larry Richards was dubbed by TIME magazine in 2016, “The scholar who made the Bible kid-friendly.” Millions of Adventure Bibles attest to the truth of that.
Zondervan has also worked hard to make this special Bible available not only in NIV, but also in its NIrV Bible version, with simplified language especially friendly for early readers. In fact, they have full Bible text and partial Bible text available so parents and grandparents can find the version which will be the best fit for their special child. Thomas Nelson also has published the Adventure Bible in the New King James Version (NKJV). So the readability and versions that the Adventure Bible is available in really meets the needs of children and parents.
Why do you think it’s been such a hit with parents and kids?
Sue Richards: First and foremost, the Bible’s features were created to bring the stories and concepts of Scripture to life for young children. The colorful pages, the graphics, and maps, as well as the most amazing covers, have helped attract the imaginations of children (and parents) who want to have an Adventure Bible to read. Parents also know that Dr. Richards is trusted as the gold standard in Christian education theory.
How does the Adventure Bible differ from other Bibles for kids?
Sue Richards: Due to the reasons I’ve already mentioned, the quality and trustworthiness of the features must be of the highest standard, scholarship, and creativity. God gave us the Word. To share the Word with little ones, we all want the best possible quality to provide features at the level each child has the capacity to understand. And each volume is so colorful and attractive, kids are excited to dig in and learn that the Bible is fascinating and speaks to all people whatever their age!
How old should a child be to read the Bible on his/her own?
Sue Richards: Of course it’s important for parents to monitor that! Because many verses and stories are highlighted with features especially for children, it does help them focus on stories that are more kid-friendly. For younger readers, parents may decide to purchase the partial text Bibles.
How do the reference notes in the Adventure Bible handle stories of violence in the Bible?
Sue Richards: In Genesis 6 which includes the great flood, for example, there’s a feature which discusses how long it took to build the ark, a feature on God’s faithfulness to Noah and his family because Noah was faithful to God, and a feature on how large the ark was. The features share amazing and fun things about the flood story. Of course, God provided the rainbow!
What is a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?
Sue Richards: One day I was preparing to teach 4- and 5-year-olds in Sunday school. I was cutting out construction paper trains and printing on each one, “God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). As I worked for hours on the activity, it dawned on me that God is with me not just physically where I am, but he’s with me in my fear, depression, anxiety, and in joy and love. He’s with me where I go physically, emotionally, spiritually. His spirit dwells in me and never leaves me. It’s so simple and so deep at the same time. Children can understand it and adults need to never forget that simple, strengthening truth!
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Sue Richards: Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to talk about this special Bible for children. I enjoyed flipping again through the pages filled with colorful, fun features which are so appropriate because gave us a fascinating, colorful world on which to live.
The Adventure Bible is published by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the parent company of Bible Gateway.
Bio: Sue Richards grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan and earned her BA from Methodist University, Fayetteville, NC. She taught secondary English in public schools in Florida for 10 years. She contributed to the first NIV Women’s Devotional Bible (Zondervan); co-created and wrote features in the Student Bible (Thomas Nelson) with husband Larry; co-created and wrote features in God’s Word for Boys and God’s Word for Girls (Baker) with husband, Larry; co-created and wrote features in the NIV Teen Study Bible with husband, Larry (Zondervan); and also co-authored with him Every Woman in the Bible (Thomas Nelson). In 2013 she earned an MA in counseling psychology from the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology and went into private practice for a few years. She is now retired to do more writing and traveling and to spend time with her pug Ruthie and Brussels Griffon, Oscar.
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