5 Reasons Children’s Bible Stories are Dangerous

Veggie Tales may have been your childhood Bible teacher if . . . you think David’s sheep had frequent fainting spells, and Joshua’s army was bombed with purple slushies.

Believe it or not, I am a huge fan of Veggie Tales, Adventures in Odyssey, and the like. I’ve seen and heard most all the episodes more than once, can identify the actors behind the voices, and could easily ace a trivia quiz {okay, so maybe I’m too much a fan}.

True, I’m not a parent. I’m not on the regular, painstaking search for worthwhile family entertainment or hours upon hours of road-trip distractions, so I don’t really know what it’s like.

But, note to my future-parent self: children’s Bible stories can be dangerous.

Whether in children’s Bible storybooks, VBS curriculum, Imagination Station trips, or adventures with limbless vegetables, the classic “children’s Bible story” can pose a few dangers to the development of your child’s Bible literacy.

5 reasons why children's bible stories are dangerous

How so? Because children’s Bible stories are often . . .

Inaccurate. In the name of creativity and entertainment, children’s Bible stories are told in a cute, fun, appealing way. At the expense of truth.
Tip: Ask questions to see if your child understands fact or fiction. Read the literal account from the Bible. Have conversations with your child to correct any misunderstanding.

Simplified. To present the story in an age-appropriate way, important information is left untold.
Tip: Tell your child those parts of the biblical account that don’t seem important. Use the same charisma as you would with all the rest. Who’s to say one word is more important than another, when every word given by God is true?

Pointless. When Jesus told stories, he always had a point, and the stories about Jesus and others in this Grand Narrative are no exception. The book of Ruth, for example, is no romantic novel, but an intricately woven, real-life drama loaded with profound implication and unparalleled meaning.
Tip: Explain the stories! What do they mean? What is the “hidden” message? Why did Jesus tell this story, or why is it included in Scripture?

Just Stories. Bible stories can become, to children, just like any other story. When kids don’t see the impact of Noah’s Ark above Winnie the Pooh, we have a problem.
Tip: Reiterate to your child the difference between fiction and non-fiction, legends and miracles, fairy tales and historical fact. Help them to see that Bible stories rise above all the rest because they are God’s Word preserved for us.

Separated from the Whole of Scripture. Sure, stories are interesting and captivating. But there is much more to the Bible than stories. When is your child going to learn about the rest of Scripture?
Tip: Adopt Bernard Walton’s humor or Bob the Tomato’s facial expressions if you have to, but teach your kids the whole Bible. Not just the easy stuff, and not just the pieces that can hang on a flannelgraph.

It’s all about being intentional. If you leave the spiritual training of your children to Veggie Tales, your kids may know “God made them special and loves them very much,” but will they really know the God of the Bible?

Take a hint from Qwerty and have your own personal “it’s time to talk about what we learned today” session with your kids. Pull out the Bible. Yes – the small-print, no-pictures-or-coloring-pages, easy-to-tear-into-shreds Bible – and teach your children about God. Because, after all, he did give us his Word as the tool to help us out with all that “train up a child” stuff in the first place.

You may be surprised to discover that your kids can handle the real thing. And in giving them such a gift, you have set them on the course of Life.

These words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Deuteronomy 6:6-7

 [image credit: unsplash.com]


30 thoughts on “5 Reasons Children’s Bible Stories are Dangerous

  1. Great balance here, Lydia! As a parent God laid it on my heart to teach my kids (just as He commanded in the Word) from my own mouth instead of just shoving them in front of the Christian videos. They have their place, but there is balance. Applying the points you gave is wise. 🙂

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  2. Good tips! Each child is different in how he processes information, and a huge percentage of children have troubles distinguishing the difference between real and make-believe before school age. But as a parent, we do have the responsibility to discover when that age is for each of our children and to begin to explain the deeper things of the Word as our children become able to digest and understand them.

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  3. Yes, kids CAN handle the real thing! Just last week I questioned a Sunday school teacher about a strange teaching. She agreed but showed me that her teacher’s manual told the story differently than the Bible did! How disappointing. Thank you for am important lesson for parents.

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  4. Interesting. I agree, kids like the real dealo facts and will remember points of a story so if they’re not accurate, there is no point. Educating the right way the first time is surely the only means?

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  5. EXCELLENT point! I have taught Sunday School in the youth department for 14 years and this is a discussion that the girls and I have had over and over. When digging deep into scripture, we all realized that the “stories” from our childhood weren’t quite accurate, but they were blown away by the reality of exciting events that ARE in the bible. It was neat to see them learning God’s Word without the ‘cartoonish’ images from the past.

    blessings,
    The How-to Guru

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  6. I completely agree with you! For hundreds of years, the Bible has been read to children without watering it all down. They can handle God’s Word, memorize it and learn it without the stories. We do not have our children attend Sunday School or VBS for that reason. 🙂

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  7. Great post, Lydia. I think we don’t give our children enough credit for understanding. Often, I think that we give them too much information and expect them to digest it easily. I stand on a line here between exposing my children to real stories which they can fully comprehend, but cannot fully digest and that can lead them to create questions of the bible that I might not want them to have (so early) or lead them to find a distaste with the bible, which I never want to do.

    I see your points here. I love how you make us critically think about what we’re giving our children. I bought mine the Action Bible and find that it has real facts, but is made more palatable by the comic strips contained in it. Our bible is very violent at times and I never want my children to be turned away by this violence. I especially chose not to expose them to this at such a young age (Veggie Tales age).

    Thank you so much for your perspective and your openness about this. I do agree we need to tell our children more truths. Appreciate your link at Open Mic Monday. Have a blessed week.

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  8. So honored that you visited my blog! I immediately recognized yours as soon as I came over; I have been here before. You are thoughtful, truthful, and most of all, faithful to God’s word. May you and your work be ever so mightily blessed.

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  9. We’ve cut back on Veggie Tales recently, partly because of the inaccuracy, and partly because I use the Charlotte Mason method, and I think Veggie Tales probably qualify as “twaddle.”

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    1. Interesting! I was homeschooled all the way, and am a big fan of homeschooling, but I must say I have never heard of the Charlotte Mason method. I Googled it just now to get a glimpse. Googled “twaddle,” too. So interesting!

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  10. A parent once told me that her daughter hated reading. As we talked about it, she revealed that she didn’t read along with her daughter. It baffled me that there was no reading together, no discussion, no making a book come alive or understanding it deeper. I think sometimes parents are the same way with movies. They don’t sit alongside, watch, discuss, peal away layers of the superficial t o the deeper story. Interactive reading and viewing help tell the whole story. You make good points about the importance of conversation with our children.

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  11. Once I sat in the back of a car with two little girls watching a “Bible video” on their dad’s I-pad. It took a long time of watching before I saw anything that related to any Bible story I’d ever read. It was a story from Exodus, if I recall, weaved into a completely fictional story that took up most of the movie time. After it was over, one of the girls started to tell me how there was a girl named Ruth in the Bible. I smiled and said she was right. As she started to tell me about Ruth, though, it became quickly apparent that this Ruth was part of the Exodus story I just watched, and not the Ruth I was thinking of. She really thought that entire story was in the Bible. Scary.

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  12. My kids loved Veggie Tales when they were younger. Madame Blueberry was the first one we ever watched, and I’m pretty sure that’s the episode my toddler was watching when the planes struck the twin towers. I agree wholeheartedly that watered down kids’ versions of Bible stories can be dangerous, though. I remember the first time (probably as a teenager) that I read the real story of Jonah in the Bible and thinking that it was far different from the stories I heard as a kid in Sunday School. I made it a huge priority to read the real Bible to my kids even when they were little. We indulged in fun things like Veggie Tales, but we always talked about the true version of the stories as well.

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  13. I have actually seen in the women I teach a fragmented understanding of Scripture because they are still reading and depending upon the “story” approach to Scripture rather than seeing it as a huge narrative arc with ONE main story. It’s thrilling to see it all come together for them.

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  14. What excellent reminders! I agree that Veggie Tales and Adventures in Odyssey have their place but that we need to be very careful to teach our children what God’s Word actually says and the importance of it. I LOVED the tips section you gave with each obstacle. So helpful!

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  15. I believe the veggie tales and Bible DVD’s do have a place, but I am also inclined to believe that Children might relate the Bible story to just another cartoon. I had a Children’s Big Bible Story Picture Book that had the real story and that I wish we had more of for our children. At first I thought you were going to mention the violence in many of the Bible stories, but understand that our children already know about violence in the real world, so from the Bible it should not surprise them. Thank you for sharing with us here at Tell me a Story.

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  16. You are so right on with this message. I have thought some of the Veggie Tales were just weird and not told well. There are other like Imagination Station and … I am not a parent so have not seen them all but used to listen to Focus on the Family on the way home from work and the Imagination Station was on the radio. I listened and liked the stories but wondered about the substance and it being biblical? Thanks for being so open and honest.

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  17. It is very important to read the story as it is..the bible stories as it is..The bible is there for one thing only to teach us and learn valuable lessons.. I always asked my son what he understood from what i have just read..so yes,explain to the child so he or she can grasp he concept.Thank you for sharing.

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