Tara is a passionate student of life and writer, hoping to share what she learned along the way (good & bad).
Time for a little confession upfront: I am not officially a Christian. I do believe in God, but I have no 'official' religious background. Nor do I have any desire for one. Yet, I have always been fascinated by the Bible and Bible stories. It is without a doubt the world's most popular book of all time and given how widespread the Christian faith is and how well known the stories from the Bible are, there can be no doubt that it is of huge historic & cultural importance.
So I have always wanted to read the Bible, but the prospect is a daunting one for the uninitiated. How to study the Bible? I actually got started once with the King James Bible, but the use of old English only served to complicate matters, especially for a non-native speaker such as myself. At some point I had to admit to myself that I did not properly understand the words I was reading and that this approach simply wasn't going to work.
So, for a long time the item was left unchecked on my long-term to do list. Then someone introduced me to the concept of a teen Bible and gave me a few helpful tips to get started properly.
A teen Bible is just like a regular Bible (as in, it contains all 66 books) but written in easier to understand English, often illustrated and with added annotations to explain certain concepts or provide more background information.
Although obviously aimed at getting teenagers interested in a study and deeper understanding of the Bible and the Bible stories, it also serves my purpose perfectly and anyone who is on a similar quest for knowledge & understanding.
In this article I will discuss my top 5 of teen Bibles. The list was derived from my own research on finding the right one for me to read. So apart from reading a lot of reviews, I checked each of these books out myself and read parts of them in order to pick my personal favorite. So if anyone is wondering: no, I did not read all of these cover-to-cover. The list merely represents the books that made it to my short list and I detail why below.
There are no bad choices in this list: all of the Bibles listed would be a great choice for anyone with a similar interest.
Bible versions (NIV, NCV, NLT, etc.)
A quick word on the various bible versions you will find on my list. There are some differences between the versions, but nothing substantial for me to recommend one over the other. They all differ from the King James Version in that they use modern English to put the Scriptures into more understandable wording, but they can all be considered accurate representations of the original Bible.
Rest assured there is almost no "poetic license" by the authors in interpreting biblical terms and passages according to their own personal religious ideas.
A few helpful tips to get started
Now before I present the list, a few helpful parting tips given to me to help us both get started.
Don't read the Bible from cover to cover
Not a great idea! The Bible is not a novel: it was not designed to be read from Genesis straight through to Revelation. A better approach would be to pick one book to start with and make that your focus for a while. It was suggested to me to start with the Gospel of Mark, as it is the shortest and easiest to understand. Another good place to start would be the Book of James.
Take your time
The Bible, including a teen Bible, is not an easy read. It is probably not great "bedtime reading" material. It probably works best to set aside 30 - 45 minutes every day. Don't be to rigid with this, afterall it is not about the quantity of pages you read but the quality of your understanding. Take your time to take it in. Sometimes an hour will pass and you hardly noticed, other times 30 minutes seems like too much. Both are okay!
Make it come alive for you so it'll begin to feel more real & tangible.
Make it interactive!
As you read in your Bible, do a little research on the biblical characters you are reading about. Get to know them on a more personal level and try to picture their stories from their perspective. Learn about the time and places they lived in, read up on history on important events mentioned.
Get a map and track the travels of important characters, look up the locations of relevant cities and where important events took place. Make it come alive for you so it'll begin to feel more real & tangible.
Ready for my short list?
Please note that the list has been updated for 2018 and beyond. I will continue to update the list as newer editions of the teen Bibles become available. As my study is ongoing, occassionally new books that have peaked my interest could bump older ones off the list.
1. Teen Study Bible (NIV)
If you are looking for a quick recommendation, stop reading and buy Teen Study Bible. You will not regret it.
One of the many cool features is Dear Jordan, where a question suitable for a teenager is answered by a sort of biblical counselor. A bit like Dear Nancy, but in a biblical context. It does not shy away from the more serious subjects, such as rape, for which I think it should be applauded. I also like the Book Instructions, which provide a really good overview in plain English for each of the books of the Bible.
All in all, this is the teen study Bible of my choice. Specifically because it is not gender-specific and (as an adult) I would feel a bit silly reading a teen Bible specifically aimed for teenage girls for example.
However, if you are a parent with teenage kids and you are looking for a teenage Bible aimed more specifically at teen boys or teenage girls, do take a look at some other boy- or girl-specific teen Bibles on the list. For example If I had a teenage girl I would definitely buy the Bible for Teen Girls without a moment's hesitation or Revolution for teenage boys.
New International Version (NIV)
2. Bible for Teen Girls: Growing in Faith, Hope, and Love (NIV)
I'll be honest: this teen Bible caught my eye initially due to the very cute cover! Once I picked it up I couldn't help but be impressed with this really high quality hardcover. The pages have a nice thick texture, which I prefer, and the text size is just right for reading. And yes, I really like the pink chapter numbers & headings too!
Like the Revolve Devotional Bible, Bible for Teen Girls features character profiles of women in the bible for inspiration, which is a really nice touch. There are also daily readings written by popular Christian female authors, such as Annie Downs, Christine Caine, Denise Van Eck and many more.
I honestly think that the exact same book could be rebranded as Bible for Women, with slightly tweaked graphics, and I bet it would sell really well. Recommended.
New International Version (NIV)
3. Teen Life Application Study Bible (NLT)
With so many good books available, it was definitely not easy to pick just 5 for my short list. Teen Life Application Study Bible makes it to my top 5, because it really is a great book.
Decidedly more 'neutral' than some of the more boy- or girl-specific teen Bibles on my short list, this book is more of a traditional teen Bible and apparently the most popular one as far as sales is concerned. I really liked the numerous Life Choices sections, which discuss situations in life you might/will run into with relevant Bible passages provided to help you deal with those choices.
I do think the print is a bit too small (especially in the compact version), at least for my taste, but to be honest, you really can't go wrong with this book if you are in the market for a teen study bible and happen to come across this book.
New Living Translation (NLT)
4. NIV Revolution: the Bible for Teen Guys (NIV)
NIV Revolution is a bit like the teenage boy counter to the NIV Bible for Teen Girls. It tries really hard to be edgy and cool (even the cover) in order to appeal to the target audience. Not sure if it succeeds in this goal. Then again, I am not a teenage boy.
This book contains features like "100 Things Real Men Do" and "Battleline" interviews with everyday, normal guys discussing subjects such as sex, parents, music, anger, divorce, relationships, addiction, popularity, peer pressure and more.
Given the many, many glowing reviews and despite my own first impression, I have decided that this book deserves a place in my top 5 short list.
New International Version (NIV)
5. Revolve Devotional Bible (NCV)
Although this book could realistically be enjoyed by any teen - boy or girl, as the full title suggests, it is aimed primarily at teenage girls. It has an fun take on this, for example in the section "Ladies of the Bible", which delves into the character bios of women depicted in the Bible. There's also the Daily Devos: 365 meaningful lessons from the Bible for every day.
In short: a very good choice, especially if you have teenage girls in the age of 13 - 20.
New Century Version (NCV)
Rebecca Swafford from Texas on October 16, 2017:
Thank you for the article! I might consider one of these.
P-Trav on August 24, 2017:
HCSB essential teen study Bible
Kiss andTales on October 22, 2014:
First I would like to commend you for writing a hub that is encouraging Bible reading for young people and young adults , how does Jesus feel about young people. New World Translation Mr 10:14 At seeing this, Jesus was indignant and said to them: “Let the young children come to me; do not try to stop them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such ones.
Reference Bible Mt 21:16 and said to him: “Do you hear what these are saying?” Jesus said to them: “Yes. DidYOU never read this, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings you have furnished praise’?”
King James Version Mr 10:16 And he took them up in his arms, put hishands upon them, and blessed them.
Why is this written ? Because the kingdom or Government of God our Heavenly Father says at the Reference Bible Mr 10:14 At seeing this Jesus was indignant and said to them: “Let the young children come to me; do not try to stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to suchlike ones.
Continue good bible reading wwwjworg has many young people guides as well but are free to the public a library also.