Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Book Review: Believe Storybook

Randy Frazee (along with Laurie Lazzaro Knowlton and Steve Adams) have put out a beautiful storybook version of the bestseller Believe.  The concept is to encourage readers to Think, Act, and Be like Jesus.  In this 256 page hardcover book that is large enough for the whole family to see during reading time, the concepts are explored through a few major parts.  I'll explain these using one of my favorite examples in the book in the "Be Like Jesus" section.
Topic:  Love
The Key Question- What does it mean to sacrificially, unconditionally love others?  The question is followed by a brief description of how and where and why this topic is important to God and is in the Bible.
An Old Testament Bible Story- David and Jonathan.  Told in story form (with scriptural references in the subtitle) with beautiful illustrations, the Old Testament comes to life through the filter of answering the Key Question on the topic.
Jump to Jesus- Consistently on an illustrated profile of Jesus, this page connects the Old Testament story with a story about Jesus or a story Jesus told.
New Testament Story- A Good Shepherd Loves his Sheep.  This story is the one referenced in the Jump to Jesus and connects how Jesus us loves us sacrificially and unconditionally and therefore we should too.
The Jesus Answer- A short wrap up of how Jesus loves you and how we can take all that love and share it with others.  It would be considered the encouraging action step for the lesson.
Key Idea- A statement of commitment or promise, almost a prayer to take away.  In this case it is "I will try hard to love God and love others."
Key Verse- 1 John 4:11.  A verse for memory that connects to the key question and topic.

There are 30 chapters that are all set up in this format.  Here are a few brief points of personal preference of Believe Storybook.

What I love:
This book feels great.  It is large enough for the whole family to huddle around and enjoy together.  It has thick, quality paper and beautiful illustrations.  I love the Key questions.  They are very insightful, great for starting discussion in the family.  The connection between Old Testament, Jesus, and the New Testament is also helpful (while not completely unique as The Jesus Storybook Bible did something very similar).  It gives the reader a fuller picture of God's story rather than segmenting into stories.

What I didn't love:
In my opinion the stories are overly simplified or too short.  I also wish the Key Idea's were Jesus focused not "I" focused especially in the "Be Like Jesus" section.  It borderlines on the self help perception when Key Ideas are "I can deal with hardships because of Jesus...I don't get angry quickly...I choose to be kind...etc."  I would prefer an approach of humility and dependence on Jesus rephrased "Jesus helps me deal with hardships, The Holy Spirit gives me patience, etc".

This book has great potential to be a springboard for great discussion as a family.  I would encourage families to use it as a guide, but then taking time to read the stories straight from scripture.  A whole week of family quiet time could be focused on one chapter if you went a little deeper on your own.  Believe Storybook would in my mind be great for children 5+ and could even be used independently for some children who read well 8+.

Overall, this is a great resource and tool for a family looking to grow in their intimacy and knowledge of Jesus.

*Thanks to book look bloggers for a free copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

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