Which Bible Version Is Best For Kids?

What Bible version is best to use when kids are involved? We typically use Bibles with children in one of three contexts: general or devotional reading, scripture memorization and in ministry to children.

Devotional Reading

For general devotional reading some folks default to the New International Version (NIV) for children. They may not realize that the reading level for the NIV is 7th-8th grade. This means that a majority of our elementary aged children will not be able to read the NIV with ease or with comprehension.


I think the NIV or KJV is fine for scripture memorization. The New International Version is popular and will be compatible with other uses later in life. The King James Version is popular as well, but the reading level for the KJV is 12th grade!

Children’s Ministry

For preaching I typically use the Contemporary English Version (CEV). It is easy to read and understand for a majority of elementary school aged children. The Contemporary English Version targets a 3rd grade reading level. This is also the Bible I suggest when parents ask me for a version that will work well for their children.

I know a lot of children’s pastors like The Message for the same reason… but The Message is a paraphrase, not a translation. Also The Message, though written well, contains abstract concepts and metaphors that are not as easily grasped by children. Even though The Message is at a 4th grade reading level, the readability of the words themselves does not necessarily translate into simple comprehension for the child reading.

For devotional reading and preaching to children I suggest the following Bible versions:

  • Contemporary English Version (CEV) 3rd Grade Reading Level
  • Everyday Reading Bible (ERV) 3rd Grade Reading Level
  • New International Readers Version (NIrV) 3rd Grade Reading Level

As a bonus, these versions also double as great Bibles for folks who are learning English as a second language (ESL Students). You can sample all of these versions at www.biblegateway.com.

What Bible version do you use when reading or preaching to your kids?

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