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When the story of the ark is colorful and cozy

Thursday, May 20th, 2021

There is a large selection of children's Bibles

By Kirsten Dietrich

Scripture - Which Interpretation Is Appropriate for Children? (AP)

In order to bring the contents of the Bible closer to their children, parents often choose children's Bibles. Some of these books differ significantly in the way they interpret the original text.

"In the beginning there was God. And there wasn't much else. But God had a plan. In the middle of the silence and darkness he began to dream. He dreamed of friendship and laughter, of the babbling of small streams and of butterfly wings. Then God began, deeply singing out from within. "

World and man begin as a song - this is what Anna Scott-Brown tells in her book "Schöpfungslied" even for the very youngest. Friendly men with outspread arms, rural idyll under palm trees and above all: lots and lots of animals. The world of the Bible appears to be a real paradise for children. At least if you compare the cover pictures of even part of the almost unmanageable production.

"The Bible is not a children's book. I think that is the basic difficulty of every children's Bible. The Bible is not a children's book, but a book for adults, and something has to happen for the Bible to become a children's Bible."

Barbara Friedrich, pastor and bookseller from Hofheim near Frankfurt. Cain kills Abel, Abraham almost sacrifices his son Isaac for God, or the crucifixion of Jesus - the Bible is full of stories that at least make you think about whether you really want to expose children to them.

"One of the classic stories is, for example, Noah's Ark. The children's story in general, because there are so many animals in it, a whole zoo, with water and with a ship and with a rainbow. It is simply a story that tells itself well. And as far as I know, it appears in every children's Bible. But it is also a not unproblematic story. According to the Bible text, God sends the flood as a punishment, mankind perishes in these floods, and only Noah and his family and the animals , in pairs, are preserved. This is not an ideal world, if you want to tell it appropriately. "

You can make the story of the ark colorful and cozy.

"One picture more colorful than the other. One animal funnier than the other. One story more beautiful than the other: of God and his creation, of Noah and his ark, of Moses and Jesus."

The text on the blurb of the "Bible Stories for Little Eyes" beckons.

"In the book the characters are more like cartoon characters, with little lions and little tigers everything is very trivialized - 'animals from another story are watching you again. Have you also discovered the frog, the duck and the crocodile?' "

Wienke, 11 years:

"It is also said that Noah took a pair of every animal species in the world with him - why not pandas too?"

There are, however, extremely uncomfortable versions of the Flood story. Even if, as in the book "On the Ark at Eight", funny penguins are the main characters.

"There is now such a huge fat boat with houses on it that are stacked on top of each other. Why is he crying there?"

Albert is nine years old and immediately notices: Not everything is colorful and good here. "At the ark at eight" tells of three penguins who only got two tickets for the ark. The story told asks about God's wrath and what happens to those who didn't make it on board.

"They drown. Oh, and that's why he cries, because the others have to die. Or why?"

"Both penguins stare into the rain and see how the water rises higher and higher. Finally one of them says with a shrug: 'Sooner or later he'll notice.' - 'What?' - 'Well-' - 'That he drowns?' - 'You have now said that', he replies with a reproachful look. 'Do you want to calmly watch our friend drown?' - 'No, I won't watch, because I'm already far away when he drowns, on this Noah's Ark. Now' don't look at me so funny, this flood wasn't my idea after all! ' "

Fortunately, everything is going well, at least for the three penguins. The Noah's Ark novel - as the book calls itself in the subtitle - "Not the end of the world" is even more radical. From the perspective of a fictional daughter Moses, author Geraldine McCaughrean narrates salvation on the ark as a cruel struggle for election and religious fanaticism. So merciless that it can only be material for older teenagers.

"I think that the age of the children plays a role for whom you write a Bible. That is why I advocate the concept of a first Bible and a follow-up Bible, which has been around since the second year of school."

The religious educator Irene Renz has dealt extensively with the question of how the stories of the Bible can be conveyed in a child-friendly manner.

"A Bible for younger children should contain stories that convey an atmosphere of security and acceptance, because that is what they need to develop as a person. So the much discussed story of the fast offering of Isaac Genesis 22 should not be included here. But it can be used later Because older children can be expected to deal with the incomprehensible and even with the evil, because they also experience evil in the world, and these stories should always include the fact that evil can also be overcome - if in the family If there is enough security space or can be talked about, then, I think, the children will also be able to deal with these stories. "

"The Bible also tells of such a flood, which is called the sinful flood, because according to this poetry it was a consequence of the sinfulness of the people, because - as the Bible says - after the expulsion from paradise the people went wild."

At the end of the 19th century, Johann Michaelis introduced the Flood story in his book "The Christian Religion for Children on the Basis of Biblical Stories". It stands for a long tradition of working on biblical texts for children. The soul and thus morality and understanding of the young Christians should be shaped by them, so that they will gladly find their way into the faith of their forefathers. "Refining hearts, spreading real humanity and strengthening the will to moral action", Michaelis calls it in the language of his time. This tradition is far from over, says Pastor Barbara Friedrich.

"The most problematic thing about children's Bibles is when they become moral in a certain way. The famous example is the story of the prodigal son, the grown-up son, mind you. It is not a child, but an adult man who inherits his father can be paid off because he wants to test himself in the world. "

"The older son was an obedient boy who did his job every day. And the father loved him very much. But the younger son was not an obedient boy. He gave his father a lot of grief. But the father loved him very much too. He had both of his Dear children. "

This is what Anne de Vries' "Children's Bible" tells. This classic of the genre dates back to the 1950s and is still being published, slightly revised.

"When we have real repentance, God is no longer angry with us. Then he is happy, and then we can still be his children. And then there is a feast with the angels in heaven because a child who was lost is found again has been."

"God loves obedient children. That is of course not exactly what the Bible wants to say, and also not what should be said in terms of religious education."

"The Bible is actually very scarce, and the danger is that authors sometimes dramatize too much to make the whole thing more exciting, or for example with the Passion story especially: 'How do you think it must have hurt? ' And I think things like that have to be avoided at all costs. "

You shouldn't make it too easy for yourself or your children, says religious educator Irene Renz. But the authors of children's Bibles walk a fine line when it comes to comprehensibility. The "Gütersloh Storytelling Bible" also takes up psalms, which is seldom found in children's Bibles. Psalm 23 sounds like this in her:

"God alone, she is my shepherdess - I lack nothing. She lets me rest on green pastures.
It leads me to waters where I can drink calmly. "

"This is a separate translation for this children's Bible. You want to do justice to the Hebrew Bible, you want to treat men and women fairly, and that includes taking into account, for example, that the shepherds were usually shepherds. It were often the young girls of the family who were sent off with animals. To be honest, I still find it a bit problematic, because of course you falsify the Bible to a certain extent. "

So Barbara Friedrich. How freely can the text of a children's Bible deal with the template? And is it okay to make a story easier to understand by adding an emotional layer that is not present in the original text? Just as it happens in Barbara Friedrich's favorite children's Bible when its author Martina Steinkühler tells the little story of the fig tree. Before entering Jerusalem, Jesus simply cursed the tree.

"And Martina Steinkühler talks about it. But then she also tells - and that is of course her personal ingredient - her interpretation of the story: how Jesus is terrified of himself, as he says: 'What did I do there?' and 'I'd like to take that back now.' And then there is a conversation with a disciple about whether he might not have the power to bring this fig tree back to life. And he says: 'Yes, yes, but it doesn't work that way, that wouldn't be right.' "

Children's Bibles are always an interpretation of the text. What kind of "children's language" should you translate Biblical Hebrew and Greek into? Even if the name "Bible" is mostly retained in the title, because of the echo of divine authority and truth - a children's Bible is more like meditation or sermon on the biblical text. Two children's Bibles are mentioned as examples that deal with it confidently. In her "Neukirchener Erzählbibel", Irmgard Weth lets her readers feel the diversity of the Old Testament when she dares to study psalms, poetic texts and even prophetic visions.

"Ezekiel stood there, as if moved by thunder. With wide eyes he stared at the fiery cloud. Then - suddenly an image formed before his inner eyes.
It became clearer and clearer: in the middle of the fiery cloud he saw a gleaming car. He hunted in the storm, pulled by winged beings, half human and half animal. No power stopped him. And above him it shone in all colors, like a rainbow; so bright, so clear. "

Rainer Oberthür, on the other hand, is more traditional in the "Bible for Children and Everyone in the House" and the text selection is narrower. If possible, he will also receive the questions and contradictions. Instead, he embeds consolation and assistance in clever introductions and background information.

“And God looked at Abel and his gift, but God didn't look at Cain and his gift. Why did this happen? 'Why doesn't God look at me?' Thought Cain. 'Does God prefer Abel to me?' He asked . Cain didn't know. Nobody knows until today. "

Literature list "Religion in Children's Books"

1. Children's Bibles

1.1. Classic children's Bibles

Irmgard Weth (author) / Kees and Michiel de Kort (illustrators):
Neukirchen narrative bible. The books of the Bible re-opened and told.
Aussaat-Verlag, Neukirchen-Vluyn (1998) 2nd edition 2008, 480 pages, 19.90 euros.

Martina Steinkühler:
Like fire and wind. The Old Testament told to children.
Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2005, 290 pp.
Like bread and wine. The New Testament told to children.
Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2005, 303 pp.
Both volumes are currently only available as an antiquarian.

Rainer Oberthür:
The Bible for children and everyone in the house. Narrated and developed by Rainer Oberthür, with pictures of art selected and interpreted by Rita Burrichter.
Kösel-Verlag, Munich (2004) 3rd edition 2005, 336 pages, 24.95 euros.

Diana Klöpper / Kerstin Schiffner (authors) / Juliana Heidenreich (illustrator):
Gütersloh storytelling bible.
Gütersloher Verlagshaus, Gütersloh (2004) 2nd edition 2008, 400 pages, 24.95 euros.

This children's Bible is based on the principles of the "Bible in Just Language", i.e. the translations strive to ensure gender equality and avoid anti-Judaist stereotypes.

Anne de Vries:
The Children's Bible - the words of the Holy Scriptures told for children.
Translated into German by Gerhard Schneider
Friedrich Bahn Verlag, Konstanz (1958) revised new edition 2008, 256 pages, 14.90 euros.

Anne Meiß (author) / Steve Cox (illustrator):
Bible stories for little eyes.
Francke-Buchhandlung GmbH, Marburg an der Lahn 2003, 10 p.

Johann Michaelis:
The Christian religion for children based on biblical narratives.
Sixth edition, edition for schoolchildren, Sibiu 1892, 95 pp.

1.2. Adaptations of Biblical Stories

Anna Scott-Brown (author) / Elena Gomez (illustrator):
Creation song.
Translation by Gabriele Stein
Patmos Verlag, Düsseldorf 2008, 32 pages, 12.90 euros.

Ulrich Hub (author) / Jörg Mühle (illustrator):
At the ark at eight.
Sauerländer im Patmos Verlag, Düsseldorf (2007) 7th edition 2008, 64 pages, 13.90 euros.

Geraldine McCaughrean:
Not the end of the world. A Noah's Ark novel.
Translated from the English by Stephanie Quantity.
Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag (Hanser series), Munich 2007 (original 2004), 253 pages, 8.95 euros.

For older children / adolescents only.

2. Celebrations

Regine Schindler (author) / Ivan Gantschev (illustrator):
The Easter story. Newly told by Regine Schindler.
Gütersloher Verlagshaus, Gütersloh (2003) 2nd edition 2007, 28 pages, 12.95 euros.

Rainer Oberthür (author) / Renate Seelig (illustrator):
The Easter tale.
Gabriel Verlag (Thienemann Verlag GmbH), Stuttgart / Vienna 2007, 32 pages, 12.90 euros.

Sabine Stadtfeld (author) / Ute Thönissen (illustrator):
The Easter story told for children.
Herder Verlag, Freiburg im Breisgau 2009, 26 pages, 8.95 euros.

Hermann-Josef Frisch (author) / Ulrike Baier (illustrator):
How the egg became an Easter egg.
Patmos-Verlag, Düsseldorf 2009, 32 pages, 13.90 euros.

Erik Szegedi (author) / Miriam Schlumm-Cordes (illustrator):
The Christmas story.
Verlag Oetinger, Hamburg 2005, 18 pages, 12 euros.

Erich Jooß (author) / Renate Seelig (illustrator):
Martin's coat.
Gabriel Verlag (Thienemann Verlag GmbH), Stuttgart / Vienna 2006, 32 pages, 11.90 euros.

Dorothea Cüppers / Birgit Meyer:
My book from Saint Nicholas (The Little Messenger of Heaven. The religious series for the little ones).
Coppenrath-Verlag, Münster 2004, 14 pages, 7.95 euros.

Max Bolliger (author) / Ute Thönissen (illustrator):
The most beautiful legends of saints.
Herder Verlag, Freiburg im Breisgau 2008, 128 pages, 16.95 euros.

3. Faith life

3.1. prayer

Annette Langen (author) / Frauke Weldin (illustrator):
Dear God, you are close to us. Children's prayers.
Herder Verlag, Freiburg im Breisgau 2009, 46 pages, 9.95 euros.

Sandra Salm (author) / Rita Efinger-Keller (illustrator):
Dear God, I'm so happy! Children's prayers to participate.
Schwabenverlag, Ostfildern 2009, 62 pages, 9.90 euros.

Erwin Grosche (ed.) / Alison Jay (illustrator):
You make me happy - The big book of children's prayers.
Gabriel Verlag in K. Thienemanns Verlag, Stuttgart / Vienna 2002, 223 pages, 19.90 euros.

not mentioned in the post:

Karin Jeromin (author) / Markus Humbach (illustrator):
A day with Max and Momo. Stories and prayers for children.
Gütersloher Verlagshaus, Gütersloh 2008, 48 pages, 12.95 euros.

3.2. church service

Markus Tomberg (author) / Johanna Ignatovic (illustrator):
Come to church with me: children's messbook.
Herder Verlag, Freiburg im Breisgau (2001) new edition 2009, 24 pages, 7.95 euros.

not mentioned in the post:

Beate Brielmaier (author) / Marika Blau (illustrator):
Lena and Simon celebrate Easter.
Gabriel Verlag (Thienemann Verlag GmbH), Stuttgart / Vienna 2009, 12 pages, 5.90 euros.

Susanne Herzog (author) / Rita Efinger-Keller (illustrator):
Bread that tastes like heaven: my first communion book.
Schwabenverlag, Ostfildern 2008, 91 pages, 14.90 euros.

Christiane Bundschuh-Schramm (author) / Sieger Köder (illustrator):
You invited us all - children's messbook.
Schwabenverlag, Ostfildern 2009, 48 pages, 9.90 euros.

The term "Catholic" is not used, but clearly describes Catholic Mass.

3.3.Belief and philosophy

Franz Hübner (Author) / Markus Humbach (Illustrator):
Do you already know how much God loves you?
Gütersloher Verlagshaus, Gütersloh 2008, 32 pages, 12.95 euros.

Petra Steckelmann (author) / Anna Karina Birkenstock (illustrator):
Charlotte and her guardian angel.
Annette Betz Verlag published by Carl Ueberreuther, Vienna / Munich 2009, 24 pages, 9.95 euros.

Wolf Erlbruch:
The big question.
Peter Hammer Verlag, Wuppertal (2004) 8th edition 2008, 52 pages, 7.90 euros.

For older children and teenagers:

Julia Knop (author) / Katrina Lange (illustrator):
The big questions in life for little philosophers.
Herder Verlag, Freiburg im Breisgau 2009, 93 pages, 14.95 euros.

Guus Kuijer:
The book of all things.
German by Sylke Hachmeister.
Verlag Friedrich Oetinger, Hamburg 2006 (original 2004), 96 pages, 9.90 euros.

Alois Prinz:
More than you think - ten people who found their purpose.
Gabriel Verlag (Thienemann Verlag GmbH), Stuttgart / Vienna 2009, 204 pages, 12.90 euros.
(Not mentioned in the post)

4. Death and dying

even for smaller children:

Wolf Erlbruch:
Duck, death and tulip.
Verlag Antje Kunstmann, Munich 2007, 32 pages, 14.90 euros.

Ulf Nilsson (Author) / Eva Eriksson (Illustrator):
The best funerals in the world.
Translation of Ole Könnecke
Moritz Verlag, Frankfurt / Main (2006) new edition 2009, 40 pages, 12.80 euros

Ulf Nilsson (author) / Anna-Clara Tidholm (illustrator):
Goodbye, Mr. Muffin.
Translation of Ole Könnecke
Moritz Verlag, Frankfurt / Main (2003) new edition 2008, 43 pages, 12.80 euros

Regine Schindler (author) / Hilde Heyduck-Huth (illustrator):
Pele and the new life. A story of death and life
Verlag Ernst Kaufmann, Lahr (1981) 12th edition 2004, 25 pages, 12.95 euros.
(with a Christian background)

Sabine Herrmann (author) / Jo Bade (illustrator):
Luca and the butterfly. A picture book of saying goodbye
Gütersloher Verlagshaus, Gütersloh 2007, 28 pages, 12.95 euros.
(with a Christian background)

Lesléa Newman (author) / Ronald Himler (illustrator):
The best cat in the world.
Translation: Peter Baumann
Lappan Verlag, Oldenburg 2007 (original 2004), 32 pages, 12.95 euros.

Jeanette Randerath (author) / Daniela Chudzinski (illustrator):
The farewell letter from Grandpa Mouse.
Thienemann Verlag, Stuttgart / Vienna 2007, 32 pages, 12.90 euros.
(not mentioned in the post)

Jutta Bauer:
Grandpa's angel.
Carlsen Verlag, Hamburg 2001, 48 pages, 6.00 euros
(not mentioned in the post)

Sophie Reinheimer (author) / Else Wenz-Viëtor (illustrator):
From the sky of the animals.
Lappan Verlag, Oldenburg 2008, 20 pages, 9.95 euros.
(Reprint of the historical children's book from the 1930s, not mentioned in the article)

More for older children and adolescents:

Amelie Fried (author) / Jacky Gleich (illustrator):
Does grandpa wear a suit?
Verlag Carl Hanser, Munich / Vienna 1997, 32 pages, 13.90 euros.

Hermann Schulz (Author) / Tobias Krejtschi (Illustrator):
The clever Mama Sambona.
Peter Hammer Verlag, Wuppertal 2007 (2nd edition), 24 pages, 13.90 euros

Pernilla Stalfelt:
And what's next? The children's book about death.
Translated from the Swedish by Birgitta Kicherer

Moritz Verlag, Frankfurt / Main 2000, 32 pages, 11.80 euros.

Michael Dudok de Wit:
Father and daughter.
Translation: Arnica Esterl
Free Spiritual Life Publishing House, Stuttgart 2003 (Original: 2002), 30 pages, 12.50 euros.
(With an anthroposophical background)

Andrea Moritz:
Death and dying explained to children.
Gütersloher Verlagshaus, Gütersloh 2007 (4th edition), 43 pages, 9.95 euros.
(with a Christian background, not mentioned in the article)

Hiltraud Olbrich (author) / Astrid Leson (illustrator):
Farewell to Aunt Sofia.
Verlag Ernst Kaufmann, Lahr (1998) 3rd edition 2007, 32 pages, 2.95 euros.
(with a Christian background, not mentioned in the article)

Juttareiber (author) / Maria Blazejovsky (illustrator):
The flowers of the angels.
Annette Betz Verlag in Verlag Carl Ueberreuter, Vienna / Munich (2001) new edition 2008, 12.95 euros.
(not mentioned in the post)

Riita Jalonen (author) / Kristiina Louhi (illustrator):
The girl under the jackdaw tree.
Translation: Anu Stohner
Verlag Carl Hanser, Munich / Vienna 2007, 48 pages, 14.90 euros.
(not mentioned in the post)

Astrid Lindgren:
The Lionheart brothers.
Verlag Oetinger, Hamburg 2007 anniversary edition, 237 pages, 9.90 euros.
(not mentioned in the post)

Michael Rosen (Author) / Quentin Blake (Illustrator):
My sad book.
Translation: Richard Rosenstein
Free Spiritual Life Publishing House, Stuttgart (2006) 2nd edition 2007 (original: 2004), 15.50 euros.
(With an anthroposophical background, not mentioned in the article)

Jo Eckardt:
Do you live in heaven now A farewell and memory book for grieving children.
Gütersloher Verlagshaus, Gütersloh (2004) 3rd edition 2009, 64 pages, 14.95 euros.

Workbook targeted for children dealing with a death. Well suited for children who like to write and read.

5. World religions

5.1. Overviews

Emma Damon:
God, Allah, Buddha. And what do you believe in
Translated from the English by Katharina Ebinger
Gabriel Verlag im Thienemann Verlag, Stuttgart / Vienna 2002 (original edition: 2000), 16 pages, 9.90 euros.

Monika and Udo Tworuschka (authors) / Rüdiger Pfeffer (illustrator):
The world religions - explained to children.
Gütersloher Verlagshaus, Gütersloh (1996) 5th, completely revised edition 2004, 124 pages, 14.95 euros.

Manfred Mai (author) / Rolf Bunse (illustrator):
66 questions and answers: All about world religions.
Herder Verlag, Freiburg im Breisgau 2008, 92 pages, 16.95 euros.

Michel Kubler / Antoine Sfeir / Katia Mrowiec (authors) / Annemarie Langhammer (editor) / Olivier Andrè / Gaetan Èvrard / Stèphane Girel / Philippe Poirier (illustrators):
God, Yahweh, Allah: The big questions about the three religions Christianity, Judaism, Islam.
Pattloch Verlag (Verlagsgruppe Droemer Knaur), Munich 2006, 192 pages, 16.95 euros.

5.2. Judaism

Eli Bar-Chen / Heike Specht (authors) / Bernd Wiedemann (illustrator):
Why Shabbath begins on Friday. The children's university travels into the world of Judaism.
Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Munich 2007, 192 pages, 19.95 euros.

5.3. Islam

Lamya Kaddor and Rabeya Müller (eds. And translation) / Karl Schlamminger (illustrator):
The Koran. For children and adults.
Publishing house C.H. Beck, Munich 2008, 240 pages, 19.90 euros.

Karin Schmidl (author) / Anja Nolte (illustrator):
Paul and the World Religions: Islam.
Prestel, Munich / Berlin / London / New York 2008, 67 pages, 12.95 euros.

5.4. atheism

Michael Schmidt-Salomon (Author) / Helge Nyncke (Illustrator):
Where do you go to God, please? asked the little piglet. A book for everyone who doesn't let themselves be fooled.
Alibri Verlag, Aschaffenburg 2007, 44 pages, 12.00 euros.

5.5. mission

Else Doerfler:
Halima. From the life of a little brown heathen girl.
Oncken Verlag, Stuttgart / Kassel 1949.
(only available antiquarian)

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