Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Meet Sally Lloyd-Jones, the most successful Christian author you’ve never heard of
First Published Dec 12 2013 12:34 pm • Last Updated Dec 12 2013 12:34 pm

How do you get kids to read one of the world’s oldest books? Ask Sally Lloyd-Jones, whose "The Jesus Storybook Bible" recently passed the critical mark of 1 million copies sold.

The British ex-pat and now proud New Yorker has never married or had children of her own, yet aims to retell the Bible to something that comes alive for young people.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

One of her editors told her once that there are two types of children’s books authors: the ones who are around children, and the ones who are children inside.

"It kind of freed me, because I think I know I’m that second one," she said. "And I can still write from that place, because my childhood is so vivid."

Her "The Jesus Storybook Bible" was not an overnight best-seller, nor was her path to best-selling children’s author a direct one.

"As a 6-year-old, I dreaded going to church," she said. "I made a little promise inside my head that when I grew up I was never going to church again."

Lloyd-Jones says that the Church of England Sunday school she attended was focused on keeping rules.

"I didn’t get any sense of wonder, or adventure, or any story," she said. "That’s why whenever I was working on a story and there would be a temptation to do a moral lesson, I’d have such a huge reaction."

"The Jesus Storybook Bible," originally released by Zondervan in 2007, was an attempt to get through barriers children may have. "The challenge with that book was ‘How do I tell this story so a child would hear it for the first time in a fresh way?’" she said. "I wanted to explain it in a way that wouldn’t rely on jargon."

Christians with a literary bent sometimes have difficulty in the publishing world, said Eric Metaxas, author of the biography "Bonhoeffer" and several children’s books who has known Lloyd-Jones since she moved to the U.S. Children’s books, he said, are in many ways harder to write than books for adults.

story continues below
story continues below

"Kids can’t be fooled," Metaxas said. "There has to be a level of honesty and authenticity that isn’t easily achieved."

The one biblical story she wanted to include but didn’t was the wedding at Cana when Jesus turns water into wine, considered his first miracle. But Zondervan was worried about a story featuring wine. "I just love that the first thing that Jesus does is a party!" said Lloyd-Jones.

A petite, blonde-haired woman who jogs and photographs for fun at 53 years old, Lloyd-Jones’ energy is contagious. Born in Uganda, Jones spent her first years in Africa.

"You would think my parents might be missionaries. Everyone thinks that’s a much better story," she said. "My dad was working for Shell."

She said she was 4 when she became a Christian.

"I was tricycling around with a friend, and my father said, ‘Sally, darling, would you like to invite Jesus into your heart?’ and I said ‘No, thank you,’" she said while laughing.

"Later I said yes."

While her parents were still in Africa, Lloyd-Jones attended boarding school in England, where a teacher first told her she could one day become a writer.

While she studied art history at Sussex University, she spent a year in Paris, where she grew in the Christian faith of her youth.

Next Page >

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.