categories: YouVersion
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October 21st, 2008

by Bobby Gruenewald

43 comments (+ Add)

Online Bible for Kids?

As we continue to work on making YouVersion available in as many translations, languages, and formats as possible, we’re considering what it would take to create a scripture engagement tool for kids in the K-5 range. I’d really love to have all of your feedback as we consider if this is something we should do.

With a goal of helping kids read and understand the Bible, what do you think would be important in a project like this? Based on some initial feedback from our kids team, it was suggested that a target age of 8-9 years old would be best.  What are some features, design aspects, etc. that you think would be important to consider for this age group?  Are there any online Bibles that are specifically designed for kids that you are aware of?

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there are a total of43
  1. Oct 21, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    As a father of a 6 & 2 year old, I’d love to see something like this? I know we have a cool little study Bible for my 6 year old, which he actually reads.

    I think that it would have to be super easy to navigate. I’m good with YouVersion, but even it is a little tough to move around in. Pictures and community would have to be huge.

  2. Oct 21, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    I think it would be a great idea. My generation has grown up very connected, but my kids will be even more so. They’ll probably do *everything* online. Getting them in the habit of reading the Bible early will be great. If they can do it online where they do everything else, even better. Great idea.

  3. 3Ryan
    Oct 21, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    I haved used God’s Story (echothestory.com) and Faith Comes By Hearing “Kidz Audio Bible.” These are great audio Bibles online for kids.

  4. Oct 21, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    Bobby, just a few thoughts:
    1. Cartoon-like format. Lot of effort up front from the graphics team, but well worth it. Dramatic narration with each character having a unique voice too?
    2. Embedded links within the frames to make it an interactive experience. For example, Jonah and the big fish could have links to pictures and specs on how big the fish may have been, David and Goliath could have pics of the world’s tallest man, etc.
    3. Maybe partnerships with Christian media to have their content embedded as well? Such as Veggie Tales episodes embedded in the appropriate places, etc.
    4. Other links to print out coloring pages or other educational games associated with that particular Bible passage (memory verse games, crosswords, etc.)

    Sorry for the long comment. As I kept typing the ideas kept flowing!

  5. Oct 21, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    That sounds like a phenomenal idea! Unfortunately for my little one, she’s a bit out of the potential age range (9 mos.), but I would love to see her come to learn and understand from a tool like that.

    I think as far as implementation, you would definitely have to simplify the user interface, increase font sizes, etc.

    Also, perhaps if there were a human-written dictionary for words that may not be understood by an elementary-schooler, like hallowed, trespass or meek. Roll over a complicated word and get an explanation (and maybe an audio pronunciation? “Meh-THOOS-eh-luh”).

    Ha. Well, that’s probably a year’s worth of work right there though. :) But I think the idea not only has merit, but could be a phenomenal tool. I hope you guys do this!

  6. Oct 21, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    My kids are 8, 6, 5, and 3 and I completely agree with the 8-9 year old target age. The real challenge I’ve seen with other “kids Bibles” is that so many are character driven - Adam & Eve, Noah, David, Samson, Jonah, Jesus, Paul, Peter, etc. - that they’re little more than flannelboard stories with little of the real power of the Word. Find the best of those kids Bibles, though, and put it online. Great idea. But focus the bulk of the resources on creating multimedia presentations (videos and games) that encapsulate the Word and link back to that kids Bible, with a real focus on application back to the kids’ real lives if possible. I can’t wait to see how it develops.

  7. Oct 21, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    Having been a children’s pastor for many years, I believe this is a GREAT IDEA. Most of the kids I worked with could navigate the web better than me! I would suggest you not make it too juvenile, kids in that age group are turned off by being condescended to, especially boys. Keeping their attention will be the big thing, bringing popular sports figures into it like Olympians, baseball or football stars would be good too, and relevant characters would help… imagine a Zach and Cody or Ashly Tisdale type personality guiding them through some parts! “Going deeper” sections is a really good idea someone mentioned earlier… click able links to other info, like big fish, how big is our universe, etc. Maybe even some FAQ’s like, “what to do when you are bullied?” “I feel like I don’t fit in?” Or basics like what is tithing, baptism, Trinity, communion. One thing my kids ran into at a large public school in Texas was sitting at lunch with friends from a variety of faith backgrounds, so things like “what do Buddhists believe?” may be good too!

    Great thinking! I love the idea, and would fully support and publicize it if I was still in that area… I will anyway, but my context is different now. Check out KIDMO by John Rogers for the online video parts… he has reaching kids in this age demo nailed! But part of what makes kids things successful is incentives. figure out how to offer them some kind of collectible or currency like “webkinz” does online and you will have a movement develop that will do amazing things in the lives of these kids! Talk about online church-start them young! Build a social network around it!

  8. Oct 21, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Seems like a great idea, and I agree that the age range is right on target. I’d discourage pictures or over animated images from scripture. These seem to have more long-term negative associations for kids, and but coloring pages, etc.. would be great add-on for kids and parents.

    I would say that audio links would be key with any kids bible. Something that highlighted words (or bouncy balls) as the text was read. And it must be easy, easy, easy to find things for kids. Some sort of a large INDEX page would be great. I also think video links could be key, maybe KIDMO or somesuch that links to particular thoughts in scripture.

  9. 9Brandon Pierce
    Oct 21, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    As a children’s pastor this is quite interesting. Some thoughts:

    1. A table that is easy to find which lists the major stories of the Bible that kids learn and links quickly to them. (Flood, David/Goliath, Abraham/Isaac etc.)

    2. Small pictures embedded with the text that tell the story as it unfolds. This could be wonderful for telling a story to a group from a stage.

    3. Maybe a picture underneath the title of each book to help the children remember the context of what was written coupled by a 1 or 2 sentence explanation. For example, Revelation could have an animated John sitting alone on an island writing.

    4. An extension of Radical’s idea of a pronunciation key could be the inclusion of “vital stats” and an animated photo of people.

    5. Finally, a church login for families to engage the weeks lesson at home through this program instead of being handed a weekly take home paper every Sunday.

  10. Oct 21, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    I don’t think a kid’s version is a good idea. I do think that a plugin (overlay) for the site for kid-receptive features would be a lot better in terms of child learning and development.

    From my perspective (children’s ministry for several years along with plenty of other youth/teen initiatives), doing something in a different language has only a short term benefit. However, giving them the same content, and then allowing a presentation layer to come in and better describe the content will promote better understanding of the text, increase reading comprehension, and give less room for them later in life to take things out of context because the “language is too archaic.”

    Also, for something like this, there needs to be a parent-driven approach, not a kids driven one. Accountability to the parents for what their kids are reading, and what exactly they are understanding will enable the Internet to be used as a supporting tool, instead of the foundational one.

    Going back to that layer idea: having a layer on top of YouVersion can be something that Sunday school lessons can use along with their programs in order to teach lessons that reach beyond that small time period on Sundays.

    Lots to think about here. But its a great start that’s for sure.

  11. Oct 21, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    Bobby, how about the Kidz Bible from Faith Comes By Hearing. This dramatized audio Bible has 60+ Bible stories and accompanying songs from both the Old and New Testaments.

  12. Oct 21, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    I think it’s a great idea! It may be more beneficial to expand Youversion’s features such as favorites, contacts, groups first. Looking forward to the advancements!

  13. 14Jared B
    Oct 21, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    Pictures/graphics of animals randomly on each side of the text

  14. 15Jared B
    Oct 21, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    And Yes! This is a GREAT idea!

  15. 16Brent
    Oct 21, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    If you build it (with good games, graphics, and a social network), they will come! This has potential to be an awesome curriculum supplement.

  16. Oct 21, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    great idea… what ever happened to “superbook”? :)

  17. Oct 21, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    I love the idea. I’ve found some super cheesy looking sites out there, but my kids love one especially because…
    1. …they can click to turn the pages and
    2. …at the end of the story there are questions to review.
    3. …they don’t try to tell every story, but some critical ones that get to the heart of faith for children.

  18. 19Jeremy Small
    Oct 21, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    I have not read the above comments so this may be a repeat but I think this is a great idea. I have a six year old, 4 year old and 2 year old. A few ideas: how about an interactive bible with scripture songs to aid in memorization, click highlighted passages that will link to an animated story or link to fun facts. How about an interactive timeline also and pictures to represent what they are reading or hearing about. I initially thought it could be an audio version: kid logs on choses a chapter to read then listens to the story. I like review questions also, how about where applicable have a project the kids can work on and send in the results to paste on the website? Maybe it could be an online community where kids from across the U.S. can talk to each other and share how they applied the gospel in their lives? Anyway, great idea look forward to seeing it happen.

  19. 20Kevin Womack
    Oct 21, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    Great suggestions so far and a GREAT idea to provide something like this for children. My 8 year old daughter has found the NIrV to be a great translation for reading the Bible. It’s very close to the TNIV or NIV but offers alternate translations for just the most difficult words that would be out of reach for a 6-9 year old. But, at the same time, it’s a “mature” enough translation that a student could hold onto that translation all the way through high school (perhaps even into adulthood).

    Would it be possible to add the NIrV to your translation options when offering this children’s version?

  20. Oct 21, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    I think that is a wonderful idea! What a GREAT resource for kids with computers…the more interactive and game-like the better! Kids will spend hours playing games, so if it can be fun and interactive…what an incredible impact it could have.

  21. Oct 21, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    Bobby - love this idea and as my kids have spent more time on line recently I am constantly seeking safe sites for them. My 7 and almost 5 year old are online quite a bit and here’s what I’ve learned. http://www.webkinz.com is HUGE right now with kids. Of course, you can check out http://www.playhousedisney.com or nickjr.com to get other ideas.

    If at all possible, make it interactive, allow kids to create a character that they get to log in with each time and give them lots incentive to come back (think about how can they earn points, etc.) My kids constantly want to check in on their characters and earn points to build their little “online empires.”

    thanks for all you guys are doing.

  22. Oct 21, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    Weird, I was just thinking about this today. I’m a 3rd grade teacher. As you work this out, here are some things to think about: If it’s parent driven, the language can be a little more difficult. If it’s kid-driven, you want it to be on their level. If kids can’t read it, then they won’t. Also, 3rd graders still like silly, cheezy stuff. Those 4th and 5th graders may be too cool for that though. Good luck!

  23. Oct 21, 2008 at 11:12 pm

    I agree with ARJ above…Great idea and I love the idea of a layer overtop YouVersion, and maybe you could add NIrV if it’s not there already.

    But please don’t go the entertainment route. There’s so many people out there that do a better job at entertaining and I know that you all can do a quality product or presnting God’s Word.

    Pictures are important, perhaps you could question the age first and present appropriate pictures according to the age group, help words, perhaps references to kid issues (bullys etc.)

    Not sure that the sound portion is that critical, but perhaps something along the line of The Bible Experience if you do a read version.

    Links to coloring pages for parents and teachers would be wonderful…

  24. Oct 22, 2008 at 6:58 am

    Sounds fabulous! My son is 8 and into everything computer related. He also devours his bible. He would love an online Bible experience. Lots of graphics, definitely links to interesting things. He is completely into doing quizzes on the stuff he just read and loves the bible trivia kind of facts. It would need to be on par with secular kids sites though otherwise the ‘cheese’ factor would be off putting.
    Great idea….look forward to your outcome

  25. 26Bryon Leonard
    Oct 22, 2008 at 7:05 am

    I think it is a great idea! Especially for the kids that don’t have the church hook-ups. Single parents have a hard time getting filled spiritually, therefore the children have a hard time getting spiritually filled. Something like this would be very beneficial to people from all walks of life. I think the digerati team would be busy for quite a while on this deal. WALK BY GRACE!!!

  26. 27Christy
    Oct 22, 2008 at 8:27 am

    One website I have always enjoyed is kids4truth.com. They have several animations of scriptural concepts that are pretty powerful (for kids and adults). Check out the creation one, and a few of the Christmas ones. They may seem a little simple to some, but it could provide a few ideas for this new version. Just thought I would share - I can’t wait to see what lifechurch.tv comes up with!

  27. Oct 22, 2008 at 10:36 am

    This is exactly what our children need. Sense most of our kids, today, spend so much time on the web, why not. As a father of three daughters 8,12,14 and the Family Pastor of The RIver Church in Sacramento CA. I am always looking for new and exciting idea’s to have our children learn more of God’s Word.

  28. Oct 22, 2008 at 11:52 am

    I think an online Bible for kids is an excellent idea!

    My kids love webkinz as well; they love earning points. They also enjoy handipoints.com where they earn points for chores around the house.

    I would love to see a point system for Scripture memorization. Get the kids hiding God’s Word in their hearts, so that they can be mighty in battle.

    We need to equip our kids; I believe the internet will be a mighty tool.

    I use the internet daily with my Christian walk; why shouldn’t kids?

    (blogs, podcasts, games, Q & A, videos, mp3downloads)
    We all tend to learn in different ways; have a variety of ways that the kids can learn & it will be a hit!

  29. Oct 22, 2008 at 11:58 am

    Maybe I am not techie enough to appreciate this but I don’t like this idea. My 13 year old son reads his Bible right along with me. I read aloud to my 2 year old from her child’s Bible. I think some of that connection is lost in an application like this. Just my 2 cents.

  30. Oct 22, 2008 at 10:38 pm

    My 7 year old would LOVE this!

  31. Oct 23, 2008 at 4:48 am

    How this would work on a “personal” level for kids, I’m not sure. How this could enable and empower the church…beyond measure!!

    Ironically, some of us on the CM team at NewSpring were just talking about this the other day. What we looked at is this…

    To have cards in Small Group to tell Bible Story is ideal
    This means pic one side, text the other
    This is how stories are read in school
    To have these pics in a digital format would ROCK
    We can put these digital pics on screen
    This helps with telling a story in Large Group
    To also have an audio version to play with pics would ROCK
    To top it all off, to have this and a video (slides through the pics, zoom in out type stuff, with audio overlay) would enable every church out there to teach the Bible Creatively! Which is KEY with kids!

    As far as ages, I would say the “demand” in the market says CM needs…

    2-4 year old (PS age pics, very simple words)
    K-3 grade (cooler pics, slightly bigger words)
    4-5 grade (more edgy pics, bigger words)

    But hey, that’s just me…? However, if you were to put this out there…OH MY GOSH!! It would be HUGE!! Teaching the Bible creatively is not easy for most churches and a tool to help do that (that would be FREE) would BLOW MY MIND (and the CM world)!!

    Thanks!
    pudge

  32. Oct 23, 2008 at 5:05 am

    [...] in a recent post on Swerve, they began to ask a HUGE question… “what if we did this for kids, what if we made a [...]

  33. 34Karen Allen
    Oct 23, 2008 at 8:14 am

    My husband, as part of a doctoral thesis, has put on a website FREE Bible Studies for parents to teach their elementary age children. You can just download and print off at hometooling.org.

  34. Oct 23, 2008 at 10:31 am

    I think this is an incredible idea. We are using the elevate curriculum at Brookwood. We love how they tell use graphics to tell the Bible Story. I would definitely look at their stuff. They do an incredible job at telling the Bible story through their graphics.

    Also having this online would reach more kids than you can imagine. Just look at the Webkins craze. Incredible idea. Do it!

  35. Oct 23, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    We bought our son “My First Message” from NavPress publishers. It is focused to preschoolers, but our 10 yr old secretly loves it too! The pix were done by former Disney artists. It follows scripture in order (Genesis to Revelation), breaking after every couple of chapters for review and application ideas. An online version would be wonderful! In order to reach people (of all ages), we MUST be willing to go where they are in order to show them Who Jesus is! God bless!

  36. 37Don
    Oct 24, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    Long overdue idea.
    1. Make it interactive as some have suggested, with IDs and some kind of cumulative incentive to draw them back every day, like Club Penguin.
    2. Depending on the version you use, provide a roll-over dictionary with age-appropriate definitions.
    3. Cartoons images and kid-illustrations are a must.
    4. Life application links to the stories will help to generate life change.
    5. Include an age-appropriate description of How To Become a Christ Follower.
    Go for it guys!

  37. 38Steven
    Oct 28, 2008 at 9:27 am

    Bobby, I think it’s a great idea! Who more than kids latch on to technology easier? It’s easier to train them young than to train an old person. Also, what do you think about cloud computing and how it will relate to the future of the church?? It’s obviously the future of computing. It also has large similarities to the LC.tv model. LC has centralized staff and resources for all it’s campuses and thousands of other churches for free. Cloud computing is centralized resources/software/hardware online for the greater good of man kind. Where do you see the church going with this??

  38. Oct 28, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    I think “fun to navigate” and “discovery” is huge for kids. right now I’m thinking of the webkinz site (http://www.webkinz.com/us_en/) and noggin (http://www.noggin.com/)for the little ones.

    what if it was so engaging, relevant, creative, and FUN that kids spent their free time each week on this kind of website? HOW AWESOME!!!!!!!!

  39. Oct 29, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    We have a 1 and 4 year old. Our four year old loves music and is memorizing worship songs and Scripture from CDs and Bible stories we read every night. A child’s ability to memorize is amazing. Now that he is capable of also playing games on the computer, we would love for him to go interactive on the PC to learn more of the Bible. Incorporating music online is probably challenging due to copyrights, but something with scripture, engaging audio, and some bright online content would be appealing, I think.

  40. 41keajanae
    Mar 5, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    i like that cause kids will learn

  41. 42David
    Sep 12, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    Please make a good children’s bible available online. I’ve spent the last few hours googling to find one and there is pretty much nothing.

  42. 43Misti
    Oct 12, 2010 at 8:49 am

    First of all my husband and I love what you have done with the YouVersion and we are really wanting something similar for our kids to read. They are homeschooled and we think it would be awesome to have it available for them. I asked my 8 year old for some input and here is what he said. He wants some pictures that relate with what he is reading about like a picture bible would. He also likes the idea of a fun font and when I asked him if he would like it to be read to him or if he wanted to read it, he prefers to be able to read it for himself. So I would assume you might need to make a kid friendly translation. I really do hope you get something up and running soon. It would be such a blessing to have. Thank you so much!