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In the second half of 1943, Anne Frank received a children's bible from her father. Her older sister Margot objected to the idea of giving Anne a Bible on Hannukah, so her father thought giving it on Saint Nicholas Day would be more suitable. (It seems that the Frank family, though Jewish, celebrated Saint Nicholas Day while hiding in the secret annex.)

The relevant diary entry (3 November 1943) does not mention the language of that children's bible being mentioned, but it was most likely in Dutch. (See the diary entry from 17 November 1942, where using German is frowned upon.)

This leads me to the question, when was the first Dutch children's bible? (It would be even more interesting to know what bible adaptation Anne received, but if there was more than one Dutch children's bible by 1943, I assume we won't be able to find out which one Anne got.)

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The article Kinderbijbel ("children's bible") in the Dutch Wikipedia is not much more than a stub; it contains nothing on the history of children's bibles in Dutch. The article Bijbelvertalingen (bible translations) claims that professor Johannes van der Palm (1763 - 1840) published the first children's bible in Dutch: Bijbel voor de jeugd. Tafereelen uit de gewijde geschiedenis voor christen-huisgezinnen, published 1811-1834, in 24 volumes.

However, the website Kinderbijbels.nl claims that the first children's bibles are older:

  • In 1640, some sort of chilren's bible was translated from English into Dutch, but this publication presents the bible stories in a question-and-answer format.
  • In 1703 Barend Hakvoord published a volume of bible stories adapted for children. Due to the magnitude of the tasks, the New Testament is summarised in a few pages.

These books were published in a period of intense theological disputes. Since the bible was used for developing literacy at school, the translator/adapter's theological point of view was an important issue.

The article Kinderbijbel on the website of the Katholieke Radio Omroep ("Catholic Radio Broadcasting") in the Netherlands also lists the publications from 1640 and 1703 as the first children's bibles in Dutch.

The article 'Als nu het verstand op dese wyze genoegzaam geoeffend is': 'Kinderbijbel' in Nederland van Van Breen tot Van der Palm points out that there were a few precursors to children's bibles before 1640. These were smaller books with selections from the bible, often with illustrations. For example, De Historie Van Den Koninklyken Propheet David was published around 1600 and was used in schools for two and a half centuries. However, the texts made no concessions to younger readers: the texts come from "normal" bible translations for adults, so the book still contains the passage from 1 Samuel 18:27 where David and his men kill 200 Philistines and brings back their ... [unmentionable bodyparts]. In other words, this is not a children's bible in the modern sense.

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