Let’s say you want to write a children’s Bible. When the time arrives to collect the stories you want to include, you need to choose which of the hundreds of tales in the Bible will make the cut. You can approach this decision a variety of ways: thematically (stories involving children, for example), artistically (stories that are illustratable), or even mathematically.
And by “mathematically,” I just mean “counting”–gather a bunch of kids’ Bibles, look at the tables of contents, and count the number of times that each story appears. Google Books speeds up this process; they include dozens of children’s Bibles in their index, some from the nineteenth century. My assistant went through over thirty Bibles for kids, copied out the tables of contents, and aligned all the stories. The resulting spreadsheet reflects around 415 unique stories that have appeared in kids’ Bibles over the past 180 years; around 350 of them show up in more than one kids’ Bible.
Most-Popular Old and New Testament Stories in Kids’ Bibles
(Stories appearing under the same number in each column appear in an equal number of kids’ Bibles.)
Some stories fall in and out of favor over time–compare the following list of top stories from the 1800s to the top stories from the 2000s. After looking at the below list, one person I talked to suggested that the composition of Bibles for children has become more theological recently and less focused on character-building.
Most-Popular Old and New Testament Stories in Kids’ Bibles (1800s vs. 2000s)
The new Bible for Kids app from Lifechurch, out today, includes six stories: Creation, Fall, Jesus’ birth, Jesus heals a paralytic (the roof story), Jesus’ crucifixion, and Jesus’ resurrection. Aside from the story of the paralytic, all these stories are popular in recent Bibles for children.
Download the data
The raw data behind these lists is available as a Google Spreadsheet for you to download if you’re interested. For those books still in copyright, the contents of each book are copyright their respective authors.