It started with a small group of mostly newly-retired people in Bedford ‘performing’ Bible stories in local schools – 20 years later Open the Book involves more than 17,000 volunteers reaching some 800,000 children every year.
Finding Bob Hartman’s Lion Storyteller Bible proved a turning point – with props and costumes helping to bring the stories to life. Roll on a couple of decades and there’s now an army of no-longer-working ‘Tims’, ‘Junes’, ‘Daves’ and ‘Brendas’ sporting bedsheets and towels in school assemblies across the country – so children can hear and experience Bible stories and truths.
Open the Book, exhibitors at CRE National 2019, present a three-year rolling programme to schools, telling Bible stories in chronological order – meaning that, each year, children hear 33 Old and New Testament stories.
Julie Jefferies, head of Open the Book, says: ‘Our success is due to the simplicity of the storytelling, a high fun factor and the dedication and creativity of so many volunteers’. It’s also true that schools love it. More than 95 per cent of those questioned said they believed Open the Book had a positive impact on school life.
The project has also proved to be a strategic stepping stone with more than a quarter of the churches involved in Open the Book going on to launch a Messy Church. Now, under the supportive and enabling wing of Bible Society, the organisation is going from strength to strength, though there’s still a long way to go if they are to achieve their aim – bringing the Bible to life for every child in every primary school in England and Wales. That means reaching more than 18,000 schools with 4.5 million children.
Open the Book staff will be at CRE National at Sandown Park encouraging visitors to become volunteers.
• Open the Book are on stand S106 at CRE National 2019