Thursday, 09 May 2019 Interview with The Play–Along Bible author Bob Hartman

News | Author Interviews

Storyteller and performer Bob Hartman has been writing children's story books for the past fifteen years, enjoying performing stories as much as he does writing them! His writing encourages children to engage with the Bible through role-play and actions.Lion Children's is thrilled to publish his latest book, The Play-Along Bible! It offers an engaging and active take on traditional Bible stories, allowing children to bring the words to life through movement and play.

Here he talks through the writing (and performing!) process, and the motivations behind The Play-Along Bible.

What inspired you to write The Play-Along Bible?

My youngest grandson was three at the time and I wanted something that we could do just sitting together. There is something quite special about that time when your child or your grandchild is sitting on your knee and you’re sharing a book together. It’s you and the child and the story. And if it’s God’s Story, then he is invited in a special way into that relationship, as well. I also think there is something special about playing with your children or grandchildren - getting down on your hands and knees and entering into their world. I wrote The Play-Along Bible to bring those two special times together.

What do you hope children and parents will enjoy while reading and interacting with The Play-Along Bible?

I hope they will enjoy playing through the stories together. I hope they’ll have fun. But I also hope it will draw them into the Bible, and begin a lifetime of sharing those stories together.

Do you have a favourite Bible story from The Play-Along Bible?

I like the Creation story best. Well, all seven of them put together!

You’ve been performing with your wonderful books, like the hugely popular The Lion Storyteller Bible and the Telling the Bible series, for over twenty-five years. Do you enjoy writing stories as much as performing them?

Yes. They serve each other. Performing the stories gives you some idea of how an audience reacts to what you have written and what you should (or maybe shouldn’t) do the next time around. And writing opens up the possibilities for new ways to help people see even familiar stories in a different light.

How does performing stories influence how you write them?

Because I write so much of the material with a view to perform it, I tend to write for the ear more than for the eye. For me that helps to build more rhythm into the writing. And probably more wordplay, as well. I’m always reading it back aloud to myself and evaluating it on that basis... How does it sound when it hits the air?

What are the best bits about being a writer?

Being able to work pretty much at your own pace. Being able to work pretty much anywhere. The constant change - no project is like another, so there is always something new on the horizon. The thrill of starting the day with a blank screen and ending the day with something that never existed before. The surprising discoveries that each story brings, bumping into just the right word or sentence or idea.

What has been one of your most rewarding experiences as an author?

Having someone tell you how much a particular story meant to them and seeing the difference the work can make.


Bob Hartman's The Play-Along Bible is available now and is sure to get children moving and engaging with Bible stories in a whole new way! You can get your copy here.