The bespoke ‘Book of Belonging’ aims to highlight more women from Scripture and spur imaginations with unique illustrations.
At the center of publishing trends toward more aesthetically beautiful Bibles and more theologically rich children’s books lies The Book of Belonging.
A Kickstarter venture by writer Mariko Clark and illustrator Rachel Eleanor, the project was inspired by Clark’s six-year-old daughter, who noticed the lack of female characters featured in her children’s Bible and asked, “Does God love boys more than girls?”
Among the best-selling children’s story Bibles on Amazon, 7 percent of the stories featured a female main character, 19 percent mentioned a woman, and only 23 percent depicted a woman in the illustrations, according to Clark’s analysis.
I know I’m not the only parent resolving these issues with homemade curriculum, Mariko Clark thought to herself. What if I just created the book I’m already creating?
The Book of Belonging, scheduled to release in 2023, is a story Bible for “modern and mindful kids.” It will feature imaginative retellings of 30 scriptural accounts—selected to feature more women than typical children’s Bibles—and unique, whimsical illustrations designed to depict a fuller cast of characters from biblical history.
“I think how the images I make will affect people’s beliefs and values,” said Eleanor, who drew the scenes in teal, gold, and orange hues. “Gaps in our perspective later grow into conscious and unconscious beliefs. … We might say we believe everyone is included, but do we show it?”
Scripture includes males and females from the beginning (Gen. 1:27), and Christians celebrate female figures like Deborah, Miriam, Esther, Mary, and Dorcas—in addition to the women involved in the …