Children's Bibles have been among the most popular and influential types of religious publications in the United States, providing many Americans with their first formative experiences of the Bible and its stories. In Children's Bibles in America, Russell W. Dalton explores the variety of ways in which children's Bibles have adapted, illustrated, and retold Bible stories for children throughout U.S. history. This reception history of the story of Noah as it appears in children's Bibles provides striking examples of the multivalence and malleability of biblical texts, and offers intriguing snapshots of American culture and American religion in their most basic forms. Dalton demonstrates the ways in which children's Bibles reflect and reveal America's diverse and changing beliefs about God, childhood, morality, and what must be passed on to the next generation.
Dalton uses the popular story of Noah's ark as a case study, exploring how it has been adapted and appropriated to serve in a variety of social agendas. Throughout America's history, the image of God in children's Bible adaptations of the story of Noah has ranged from that of a powerful, angry God who might destroy children at any time to that of a friendly God who will always keep children safe. At the same time, Noah has been lifted up as a model of virtues ranging from hard work and humble obedience to patience and positive thinking. Dalton explores these uses of the story of Noah and more as he engages the fields of biblical studies, the history of religion in America, religious education, childhood studies, and children's literature.