A Book Review from Books At a Glance
By Kristin Stiles
“Follow Me.” We recognize those words as a command of our Lord Jesus in the Gospels. He invited those who listened to His message to become His disciples. This book, Follow Me, is an invitation to young children to become disciples of Jesus, but it’s also an invitation to follow the author through the Bible and see how that inspired Book points directly to the One we are called to follow.
Liesbeth van Binsbergen has done a wonderful job of carefully selecting and adapting passages from throughout the Bible for young children. In the preface she explains how she tried to stay very close to the actual verses but put them into vocabulary and phrasing that children would understand. She also wanted to select the stories that follow the “scarlet thread” of the gospel throughout the Bible. She gives approximately the same number of pages to the Old Testament as she does the New Testament. Of course, in the New Testament, the bulk of the passages are from the life and teachings of Jesus with just a few chapters covering the early church and just one on Revelation. Each story has the scripture reference included at the beginning so that parents can compare her words to the original or even begin teaching their children where to find these accounts in their Bibles. This hefty book contains 116 Bible stories.
There are several other points of commendation that I can mention. I appreciate the length of each story. They are sufficiently long to include all the important details, but they are not so long as to be too cumbersome to read in one sitting. At the conclusion of each story, there are three discussion questions that allow for review and in some case for further thought. The illustrations are especially engaging. I really love the bright, colorful pastel drawings that accompany the text.
My one critique would be that at times van Binsbergen writes things that either don’t line up with the text or just make me scratch my head. These lapses are usually quite minute, but as we are dealing with God’s Word, they are disappointing. Here are a couple of examples: In the story of Sarah and Hagar, van Binsbergen states that the reason Sarah sent Hagar and Ishmael away was because she “noticed that Ishmael was not happy as others were. That made her sad.” And so, she asked Abraham to send them away. It makes it sound as though Sarah was more sympathetic towards Ishmael than she was her own son, which certainly was not the case. Another example is in the account where Jesus tells the Pharisees that if they “[b]reak down this temple. . . I will build it again in three days.” When explaining what Jesus meant, van Binsbergen says, “His body was like a house in which the Lord God lived.” That statement makes the hypostatic union all the more confounding. I didn’t find many of these types of issues, but I was a little put off by the handful that I found. It did make me go back to the Scriptures to see what the actual wording was, and I’d suggest that parents do that if they read something that just doesn’t sound quite right to them.
Overall, I would still recommend this book. The selection of stories is really excellent and for the vast majority of them, the adaptations are spot on. I’d caution parents to always be discerning in what they read and to frequently go back to the Bible to make sure that the details are accurate. Also, we should always be pointing our children back to scripture as the final source of truth.
Kristin Stiles is a home-school mom, a Sunday School teacher, and helps lead the “Young, Reading, & Reformed” children’s ministry at Reformed Baptist Church of Franconia, PA.
Buy the books
FOLLOW ME: BIBLE STORIES FOR YOUNG CHILDREN, by Liesbeth van Binsbergen