National Geographic Kids 1,000 Facts about the Bible packs a lot of information into a 96-page volume. There’s so much here that fellow CatholicMom.com contributor Nicole Ernest and I collaborated on this Tag-Team Book Review. This 96-page large-format hardcover reference book is packed with information and illustrated with sacred art and other relevant graphics and diagrams. The book retails for $14.99. There is no electronic version of this book available.
NICOLE: My children love learning and enjoy so many resources from National Geographic so when I was asked to review their new book, 1,000 Facts About the Bible, I was excited to get my hands on it. Just like the National Geographic Kids Magazine and their television shows and movies, the graphics are fantastic! I was also very impressed with the way that the authors organized the book with different popular topics like Family, Angels, Animals, Laws & Commandments, Miracles, Prophets, Apostles and more.
BARB: This book is written in an almanac style, which makes it intriguing for school-age children. It’s clearly a book meant for browsing, rather than reading straight through.
NICOLE: Our oldest child who is 5 years old loved the section on Lands of the Bible including People and Places from 20th Century B.C.E to 1st Century C.E. which includes a great map of important events of the time.
BARB: Nicole mentions maps; I thought the book missed a great opportunity in that area. There was a nice two-page spread at the beginning of the book, but I think children would have been interested in seeing specific maps showing routes that were used by the Israelites leaving Egypt, St. Paul in his travels to evangelize the world, and Jesus during his lifetime, to name just a few.
NICOLE: I enjoyed the 50 facts about Miracles and the 15 amazing facts about the Apostles which both included many of my favorite stories and facts about the Bible.
BARB: National Geographic will capture the interest of middle-grade kids with this book. Children younger than third grade would do best to explore this book with a parent, as vocabulary, place names and names of people will make for challenging reading. I enjoyed some of the creative page headings, such as “25 Telling Facts about Prophets” and “35 Sickening Facts about Plagues and Diseases.” It’s a shame that those headings didn’t translate into chapter titles in the Table of Contents. They definitely grab the attention of the middle-grade reader!
NICOLE: Also, though the 40 different topics in the book include things like Clothing, Hair, Fashion and Food, which I know can be topics of interest for today’s children, I would have liked to see more focus on the Church and faith that has resulted from the Bible and life of Jesus.
BARB: I realized that this book wasn’t going to be entirely compatible with the Catholic perspective when the Foreword mentioned that “the Old and New Testaments consist of around 66 individual ‘books’ (emphasis mine).” There is a disclaimer on a very early page of the book that “different religions add or subtract books of the Bible, reorder them or follow specific translations.” That, I thought, is a very good thing for children of all Christian traditions to understand, though I’d dispute the notion that some religions “add” books. The Catholic Church never “added” books to the Bible–rather, they never subtracted them. You can learn more about the differences between Catholic and Protestant Bibles here.
NICOLE: As a Catholic homeschooling parent I did have a few issues with some of the 1,000 facts from a Catholic viewpoint, but expected that from a secular company. One of them being one of their facts that “Jesus had four brothers – James, Joseph, Judas and Simon”, which Catholic Answers nicely disputed from the Catholic viewpoint HERE.
BARB: The use of “C.E.” and “B.C.E.” was yet another clue that we were dealing with a book that is not specifically Catholic.
NICOLE: Overall, I see the benefit of National Geographic publishing this book because I think that it is important for all children to be exposed to the history of the Bible and I think this book will help with this cause.
BARB: This is a good book for parents to explore together with their children. Because of the various issues caused by the book’s non-Catholic focus, parents would need to be ready to help their children learn what Catholics believe. If parents let their independent readers explore the book on their own, children might come away with erroneous information.
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Copyright 2015 Nicole Ernest and Barb Szyszkiewicz.