Q+A: The Story Behind the Jesus Storybook Bible
Sally Lloyd-Jones is not just any children’s author. Like C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, her writing is beloved by children and adults alike, with her bestselling Jesus Storybook Bible selling over 2 million copies to date and ranking as the most popular children’s Bible on Amazon, a position earned by its winsome presentation of the gospel in a storytelling format with a fairytale flavor. A “grown-up” version of her Bible stories hit the shelves last fall. The Story of God’s Love For You merges the text from the Storybook Bible with a fresh, new title and cover.
With roots in East Africa, England, and now a life in Manhattan, Lloyd-Jones developed a lifelong passion for stories that would be beloved by little ones worldwide. Bronwyn Lea talked with the New York Times bestselling author about learning wonder and joy alongside children, pursuing excellence, and rediscovering our vulnerability to the gospel through storytelling.
I discovered the Jesus Storybook Bible with my young children, and it was a deeply emotional experience to read it aloud to them: I laughed and I cried. What was it like for you to write it?
I always go by that saying from Robert Frost: “No tears for the writer, no tears for the reader.” Not that you’re supposed to be moving yourself to tears in a sentimental way, but if writing is not coming from that deep place that moves you, or that you find really funny, then I don’t think it will work. Writing requires truth: truth first for the writer and then it will come across to the reader, whether it’s funny or sad. When I was writing the story of the passion, it just so happened it seemed that I was writing it during holy week, and it was like having a mini-revival.
If you’re going to insert yourself in the Bible, you’re going to have a reaction. Sometimes I would find myself being judgmental towards the Israelites or the disciples, thinking “Ugh, how could they be so stupid? God has told them and rescued them so many times!” And then I would get convicted, and think, “So what was it I was worrying about?”
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