Couldn’t we all use a little good news right now? That’s why we’re so excited about our newest Bible for children ages 8-11, The Four Gospels for Young Catholics. The word gospel means good news, and the Gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John contain the best news of all: God loves us so much that he sent Jesus to save us. With this book, children can journey alongside Mary and the apostles as they get to know Jesus in the stories of his birth, life, death and resurrection.
Rather than the retold Bible stories meant for younger children, this edition contains the actual text of the four Gospels, meeting kids where they are, with vivid art and attention-grabbing features. Reading the real words of Scripture provides a rich opportunity to see the stories and words of Jesus as they were recorded. The multiple facets of each Gospel come to life in the text and are supported by sidebar information just for kids. This makes The Four Gospels for Young Catholics a great resource for parents, grandparents, and teachers who want to help children become familiar with Scripture. There are rich opportunities for using the text in different ways, which strengthen the child’s engagement with the Bible – and with Jesus himself.
Each of the Gospel authors, called evangelists, wrote their version of the story of Jesus at a different time and for a different audience. They had specific reasons for what they wrote and the events in Jesus’ life that they chose to emphasize. The different focus in each Gospel suggests various ways to help your child grow in faith.
Matthew wrote his account of Jesus’ life for the Jewish people of the time that believed in Jesus, but still argued about what rules were important and how they should be followed. In many ways, the turmoil of that time in history isn’t much different than what’s going on today. The stories in Matthew’s Gospel remind us of the importance of the Golden Rule, treating other people the way we want to be treated. It’s one thing for a parent or teacher to tell a child to forgive others and be kind, but it’s another thing entirely to read what Jesus actually said and did when he met people who unjustly judged others. This Gospel can help children make Christian values their own.
Mark’s Gospel was actually the first to be written, and was aimed toward Gentiles, the people who were not Jewish as Jesus and the apostles were. At that time it could be dangerous to say you believed in Jesus. Mark wanted to encourage Jesus’ followers. His Gospel is the shortest and it moves very quickly from scene to scene. It also depicts with great sensitivity the suffering that Jesus endured. He urges Christians to never lose sight of Jesus, who came to save us from sin. Mark’s message of faithfulness and hope is an important one for children to hear in 2020 and always.
Luke’s Gospel was written for the Gentiles too, specifically new Christians who lived in a city. There are a few less farming stories in Luke’s Gospel, but there’s a lot more stories about women of that time. This Gospel is especially good for encouraging girls and demonstrating for all children the important role of strong, faithful women in the life of Jesus. Luke wanted to fortify his readers, of course, but he also wanted to challenge them. Being a Christian can be a hard road to walk now and then. Luke wanted to give his readers accurate information that they could count on during their journey as Christians. That may be one reason there are more parables, everyday life stories told by Jesus, in the Gospel of Luke. There are lots of good stories for dramatic play with children and much inspiration for art projects and group prayer. Luke also emphasized that Christians must take care of the outcasts of society. Our world is filled with outcasts and, sadly, many precious children feel like outcasts themselves. The Gospel of Luke can be a beautiful reminder to all children that they are uniquely made by God. It also reminds us all of the need to accept and care for those who are different or marginalized.
Then there’s the soaring good news of John’s Gospel. Written later than the others, it has its own tone and style. The writing itself can lift the soul in prayer and worship. John wrote for a mixed audience: some Jews, some Gentiles, and others as Christianity began to spread. John wanted to give strength and hope to groups of Christians that, because of their faith in Jesus, were being ostracized by the people in their community. He used many literary devices in his writing and this Gospel is perfect for helping children come to understand paradox and double-meanings. Rich with symbolism, the Gospel of John is especially beautiful for leading children to a prayerful experience of the love Jesus has for each one of us.
The Four Gospels for Young Catholics was also put together for a special audience: children who are ready to discover the treasures of Scripture. These special features ensure that its readers are engaged and encouraged to grow in knowledge and faith:
- An inviting introduction to each Gospel
- Notes and sidebars with context that fosters understanding
- A guide for using Bible passages in prayer
- Helpful appendices outlining the miracles and parables of Jesus; sacrament symbols and references; and maps to help children find the location of events in the life of Jesus.
It is our prayer that this edition of the Gospels will energize children’s curiosity about the Bible, and most especially, encourage them to respond to Jesus’ offer of friendship, love, and eternal life that can be found within its pages.