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Book List Book Reviews Theology

Book List: What is the difference between a story Bible, devotional, biblical and systematic theology book?

Story book Bible or Bible story books

A retelling or paraphrase versions of Bible passages or stories in an age-appropriate manner. Story Bibles usually come in narrative formats.

My favorites are The Tent of God and God With Us by Marianne Vos Radius, and The Child’s Story Bible (3-volume edition by the Banner of Truth) by Catherine Vos.

If you want a list of Story Bibles that do not contain any images of the Trinity, please see my post here.

Systematic Theology

A book or material that presents or organizes the contents of the Bible by topics or key doctrines, e.g. Scripture, Trinity, Church, etc. Catechism materials are a great way to teach systematic theology to children in a friendly format.

My favorites are Big Truths for Little Kids by Susan & Richie Hunt for younger children, Training Hearts, Teaching Minds by Starr Meads for the whole family, and The Westminster Shorter Catechism For Study Classes by G. I. Williamson for older elementary and high school students. The Ology by Marty Machowski would also work well for morning baskets.

Biblical Theology

Biblical theology focuses on the big story of the Bible by tracing the story and/or history of salvation (Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration).

I would recommend Kevin De Young’s The Biggest Story for the whole family.


Devotionals are used to facilitate Christian piety. They are mainly designed to aid meditation/reflection and practical application, often after Scripture reading or an anecdote.

My family doesn’t use a lot of devotional materials. My husband is a pastor and he usually explains and teaches directly from the Bible. However, my children enjoy reading through Psalms for My Day. And I’d recommend it for younger children.

For parents who don’t know where to start, try Long Story Short for Old Testament and Old Story New for New Testament by Marty Machowski because both books provide short devotionals and reflections for each day. These are readily available on Kindle for easy access, or watch out when Amazon offers it for FREE download!


Although not all books are designed to be a “devotional material” which follows the Scripture/story-then-application format. But any of the books above can be used as a devotional material.

In fact, all Christian literature are supposed to be devotional in the sense that it should be doxological, which means that it should lead us to worship the Triune God. After all, man’s chief end is worship, that is “to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” (Westminster Shorter Catechism #1)

Family Worship

How about Family Worship? Joel Beekes writes,

Generally speaking, this [Family Worship] includes instruction in the Word of God, prayer before the throne of God, and singing to the glory of God.

Any of the materials above can be used for family worship, including a Psalter or a hymnbook that you can learn to sing from—we use the Book of Psalms for Worship at home.

I would recommended Exploring the Bible Together by David Murray and Family Worship Bible Guide by Reformed Heritage Books, if you want to start somewhere.

Do you use of the materials above? Please let me know how you use them in your own family!




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