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The special Bible edition Bono read to his children

It's no traditional King James version, that's for sure
/ Source: TODAY

Bono did not grow up in a household of big readers. But, the U2 frontman tells TODAY's Jenna Bush Hager, he loved reading the classics ranging from Harry Potter to the Bible to his own children.

Bono being Bono, of course, he did not read from the traditional King James version. Instead he favors "The Message," a contemporary Bible by Eugene Peterson that's won praise the world over for putting the Biblical message in compelling, easy-to-understand language.

What is The Message?

Eugene Peterson translated the Bible from Greek and Hebrew texts, but referred to his version as a paraphrase rather than a word-for-word translation, aiming to capture the spirit of the original in plain language.

For example, here's John 3:21 in the King James version: "But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God."

"The Message," by Eugene Peterson, $8, Amazon

And Peterson's version in "The Message": "But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is."

The Message has sold more than 20 million copies, with Bono just one of many fans.

Peterson died last October at the age of 85. "“Among his final words were, ‘Let’s go,’" his family reported in a statement they released at the time. "And his joy: my, oh my; the man remained joyful right up to his blessed end, smiling frequently."

Bono's love of books

When he was growing up in Dublin, Bono's family wasn't real big on reading to him.

"No," he told Jenna with a laugh, "that wouldn't have happened. My dad played opera so we had deafening music. But reading wasn't such a big thing. And I developed my own passion for reading in my teenage years."

He fed his fascination with America by reading authors like John Steinbeck, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. "I still read poetry," he said. "When you're busy, poetry's powerful."

When Jenna's daughter Mila was born, Bono even gave her a book as a gift.

"But did you use it, Jen?" he inquired.

Indeed she did — it was a copy of "Peter and the Wolf," with a very personal inscription to Mila.

"Peter and the Wolf," by Sergei Prokofiev, $16, Amazon

"It said, 'Welcome to the world. There's a lot of work for you to do but not just yet'," Jenna recited from memory.

"Oh, my gosh," Bono replied.

"I cried," Jenna said. "Thank you."