In The Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible Jared Kennedy introduces very young children to the basic storyline of the Bible. Here he expands on the key turning point of the Bible, and indeed of world history. The story unfolds in four chapters, each with the relevant scripture passages: “Jesus Rides into Jerusalem,” “Jesus’s Last Supper,” “Jesus Dies for Us,” and “Jesus Lives!” This makes it easy to divide into four separate readings, corresponding to Palm Sunday, Sedar, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. As in the Gospel Story Bible, deep themes are broken down to simple sentences that very young children can understand. For example, “Jesus died because WE do wrong things. Jesus took the punishment for OUR disobedience and sin. Jesus died instead of us.” The crucifixion itself is also simplified, but impactful: “At the top of the hill, the soldiers put Jesus on the cross. They hammered nails through Jesus’s feet and hands, and they left Jesus there to die.”
“Left him to die” pierces my heart. The picture shows a hand pierced by a nail with drops of blood, but in the simple-shape style that communicates without terrifying. Each chapter ends with a question and an application to the child’s experience. Throughout, the book treats the Resurrection as directly relevant to readers, no matter how young or old–which of course it is! God willing, this story will pierce their hearts also.