It Is Filling a Need!
AT LAST year’s “Victorious Faith” conventions, My Book of Bible Stories was released. This is a publication totally different from any produced before by Jehovah’s Witnesses. It has large print and easy-to-understand language, and is illustrated with over 125 beautiful, large, full-color pictures. “It is a book for which there is a need,” the speakers at those conventions said.
Those words have indeed proved true. About six million copies of the book have already been printed in 10 languages. And at the Watch Tower Society’s offices in Brooklyn, New York, hundreds of letters of appreciation have been received for it. One woman wrote: “My son, who is a printer, has expressed his professional admiration for the quality of workmanship it contains.”
HOLDING INTEREST EVEN OF INFANTS
In this age of television and picture books, the capturing and holding of attention with the printed page is a real challenge. But this new book, which gives the reader an idea of what the Bible is all about, has been doing this. “Our two-year-old son takes it with him wherever he goes,” writes a couple from Ontario, Canada. “He was watching TV with his book by his side when, in the midst of his favorite TV program, he said: ‘Mommy read me a story.’ Off went the TV!”
A mother from Virginia reports: “Every day since the release we go out onto the porch and read the new book. No matter what he is doing, my son drops it and comes running, saying, ‘Bible,’ and sits on my lap to listen to the reading. This really thrills me, to see such an interest.” How old is this boy? Only 16 months!
The value of teaching children from infancy cannot be overemphasized. (2 Tim. 3:15) A young couple, who began studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses about the time their son was born, took seriously the Scriptural encouragement to begin teaching him early. A friend says: “When Joshua was eight months old, he and his parents went out for a meal. They began to eat, forgetting to pray. When they began to feed Joshua, he refused to eat, persistently grabbing for the person’s hand next to him to cover his eyes. Soon the father realized that Joshua wanted to pray. After the prayer, he ate all his food.”
“John and Barbara worked hard with Joshua,” the friend continues, “and with the wonderful aid for teaching, My Book of Bible Stories, he can tell you all the Bible characters and lessons to be learned in it from creation to the crossing of the Jordan River. When Joshua is asked why he loves Jehovah, he replies, ‘Because Jehovah’s laws are righteous.’”
A mother from California expresses warm appreciation for the new book, explaining: “My son Joel, who is almost two, understands speech well enough to catch the drift of a conversation. But he isn’t patient enough to sit still for the whole story. Tonight, before bed, we looked at some of the pictures, and I explained the ones that interested him. When he’d had enough, he closed the book, looked up at me and said, ‘Prayer?’ This from a child who doesn’t even say two-word sentences.”
A letter from a family in Arkansas tells about a unique way that the book is being used. “Some parents here are taping the stories for busy hours when mom can’t sit down to read to small ones. Soon they will have it memorized! Our baby Samuel is 18 months old and can’t say much yet. But he understands the meaning behind the beautiful large pictures. He knows, for example, not to hit kitty with a stick because Jehovah didn’t like Cain anymore after he did that to Abel.”
VALUE OF THE PICTURES
The teaching value of the book’s pictures is indeed great, giving truth to the saying “A picture is worth a thousand words.” “The pictures hold our son’s attention while we read to him,” parents from California write. “Any information the story leaves out, the picture supplies. Kelly can tell us something about every picture in the book. We are amazed at the way the pictures vividly recall the stories to his mind.”
An experience of a New York mother also underscores the value of the pictures. “When My Book of Bible Stories was released,” she explains, “I showed it to Sy and we talked about it quite a bit. He asked some questions in his three-year-old way, and I assumed that that was that. What a surprise I had!
“One night after I put him to bed and we said our prayer, I left the room. In a few minutes he called, ‘Bring My Book of Bible Stories.’ I said to myself, ‘Fine,’ figuring that within a few seconds it would be thrown out of the crib onto the floor. Well, after five minutes and not a squeak, I looked in. There he was studying the pages. Ten minutes went by—15 minutes—close to 20 minutes! Twenty minutes of complete silence ‘studying’ this publication! This practice has been fairly regular ever since the convention.”
Many parents report similar experiences of youngsters really becoming absorbed in the book. “Now that all have received their own personal copies,” writes a Florida mother, “I am the one who is being asked to sit down, literally for hours at a time, to explain the meaning of each picture and re-read each story.”
Referring to previous publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses, a couple from Puerto Rico writes: “It isn’t that our children didn’t like the Paradise book or the Great Teacher book. But the illustrations just didn’t have the same appeal as those in children’s storybooks, and they always tended to look for those books first. Now they enjoy more their new book of Bible stories, and for this we are very grateful.”
A Michigan housewife, in a moving letter of thanks, says that she long desired to have such a book. “Needless to say, how pleased I was,” she remarks. “The book was so masterfully compiled, so beautifully illustrated to enhance our imaginations, and so diligently designed to be enjoyed by all! My children now choose that book over all others to be read to them every evening.”
OLDER CHILDREN BENEFITING
The book is of equal, if not greater, interest to children who already have learned to read. “Our six-year-old daughter completed reading the Bible Story book on her own,” reports a sister who was truly amazed at how much knowledge her daughter had gained. Referring to the family Bible reading for the Theocratic School, the mother explains: “Quite often, upon pausing to catch my breath, our little six-year-old would continue the Bible history in her own words. Needless to say, the undivided attention my husband and I now get while reading the Bible with our children is noteworthy.”
The book is also helping youngsters to talk to others about the Bible. A Canadian mother writes: “Our boy, who is nine and a half, never really was interested and never enjoyed sitting down to study. But I’m happy to say that yesterday he came into the house and said: ‘Mom, will you get me my new book? I want to show George.’ And that’s not all. He came in about 30 minutes later and asked if his friend George could have a study too. So we all sat down at our table and had a study. We all looked up the Bible citations and, best of all, we all enjoyed it.”
What children read in the book is strongly motivating some of them. “I have read it five times now,” writes a nine-year-old from Virginia. “I am now reading it to my four-year-old brother. The book gave me confidence to place magazines. The thing that gave me the faith was the stories about Enoch and Noah, who had to be brave.” An Illinois eight-year-old says: “I talk to the kids in my school and they really like what I teach them, and I use the Bible Story book to help me.”
TEEN-AGERS BENEFITING TOO
Is it only younger children that enjoy information that is written in a concise, simple style and is illustrated with many large pictures? Not at all! “I know that this book was especially made for the younger children,” writes a 15-year-old from Iowa, “and I don’t consider myself a young child. But from the bottom of my heart I can say that next to the Bible this is the finest book I’ve ever read.”
A 16-year-old Californian explains: “The illustrations in this book caught my attention and have encouraged me to do more personal Bible reading.” She adds: “I wish the studies would keep going on and on. I’ve read the Paradise book, the Great Teacher book and the Youth book over the years; but this is my favorite.”
The Bible information learned from My Book of Bible Stories and the lessons taught in it are beneficial, regardless of a person’s age. A 17-year-old Michigan girl writes: “I really appreciated the story ‘Dinah Gets into Trouble.’ I learned that it’s very important to stay where you belong and never venture out where there is danger, because if we do something that we’re not supposed to do, Jehovah will not protect us when we get into trouble.”
FOR ADULTS AS WELL?
Can it really be said that My Book of Bible Stories fills a need for adults as well? Yes, it can. How so? Well, for one thing, the Bible accounts are presented in the order that they happened. And a mother from Pennsylvania explains: “I have such a problem placing people and things in their right place in history. So it’s a real help to me.” Not a few of the hundreds of letters received express thanks for this feature of the book. But that is not the only reason older ones say that the book fills a need for them.
“I am an old lady,” a letter from Texas says, “but I want to thank you for My Book of Bible Stories. I appreciate the big print and lovely pictures. This makes it easy to read at night when I am very tired.” She adds: “The basic message of the book, which is, ‘If Jehovah says “No!” don’t do it; if he says to do something, do it!’ comes through loud enough for even old ladies to hear.”
Another letter says: “Although my husband and I have no children, I must tell you how very much I appreciate this new book. It has always been difficult for me to picture Bible events. So I feel that even for an adult this publication will be a valued and beneficial Bible aid.”
Happily, some who are not Witnesses are realizing this. “My husband is not in the truth,” writes a Michigan Witness, “but upon receiving My Book of Bible Stories he immediately sat down and read with the children all the stories dealing with Moses. He said that he intended to study with them from this book on a regular basis, saying that he thought it would really help him also! I pray our family may be united at last in Jehovah’s pure worship.”
Actually, the book contains many details from God’s Word that even veteran Bible students may not remember. A 57-year-old Indiana Witness writes: “I appreciate how detailed it is. For instance, a sister pointed out how her granddaughter asked her mother, ‘Who in the Bible had seven braids?’ I’m glad she didn’t ask me. Since then I read the account in the book and looked it up in the Bible and I enjoy bringing this out to others.”—Judg. 16:13-19.
Emphasizing the value of the book, a letter from Utah says: “As a family we have tried to read from it every night and we find it very enjoyable. The thing I thought you would find interesting about all of this is our family circumstance. I am 31 years old and an elder in our congregation. My wife is 24 and we have no children. Yet we consider this book to be one of the finest publications we have ever received. So while it was written for children, all can benefit from this new release because of the simple and straightforward way in which it is written.”
USE IN THE FIELD SERVICE
Surely, this is a fine book to offer to persons who desire to learn more about God’s Word. “In more than 28 years of field service, I have never seen anything this easy to place with the public,” writes an elder in Mississippi. “Last Friday (Dec. 22, 1978) our car group of four placed 16 books, which was all we had, and this has proved to be a typical day with this publication. The public is thrilled with this new book, as are we.”
Another Witness, in New Jersey, says: “The return visits on [individuals obtaining] that book have been fantastic, with persons making comments like: ‘Now I know that God’s name is Jehovah.’ ‘My children have practically read the ink off the pages.’ ‘I couldn’t put it down.’ ‘My children go to bed without any trouble if I promise to read to them from the Bible Story book.’ One lady said, ‘I thought nothing could get me away from the soap operas.’”
Jehovah’s Witnesses will be featuring My Book of Bible Stories in their public witnessing work. Do your friends, neighbors and relatives have a copy? Why not offer them one? Many persons undoubtedly will benefit from receiving a copy, for the book does indeed fill a need today.