Sometimes, reading the Bible with kids can feel daunting for several reasons. We are unsure of where to start. We may be afraid of questions the children might ask – so if all the animals went into Noah’s ark two by two, what about the fishes? Did they go in too? Cue a collective sigh from parents, Lord help!
There is also the fact that if, doing it at the end of a rather busy and tiring day, as part of their bedtime routine, then you might just want your little darlings to be asleep, faster than you can say “In the beginning God made heaven and earth …”
In a bid to have less of those daunting times, I would like to share some ways of reading the Bible with kids that I hope will inspire you and your children to dig deeper in the Word! Ready? Dig in ?
- Get a Bible they would enjoy!
Storybook Bibles tell a selection of Bible Stories. Children’s Bibles are those that include the entirety of Bible with illustrations and commentary. Depending on the age and stage of your child, you can find one that they can use for years to come. There are several options and versions out there to choose from. One of my firm favourites is a BibleForce (The First Heroes Bible).
My children love this Bible especially my 7-year-old son who has had it since he was 4. It’s in a comic style so it’s visually delightful for younger children, while containing detailed story breakdown to keep the older ones enthralled. I have lost count of the number of times reading a familiar story with my children has inspired my personal Bible study time.
2. Let them observe you (read) engage with your Bible.
Apart from the family sessions or parent led Bible reading, let your children see you read and study your Bible. It reinforces the fact that this Book is for all; children and adults alike. Show them how you applied lessons learnt or insights gained. Tell them of answered prayers in response to things that encouraged your faith. Do not reserve these conversations to devotional times only. As you do so, you infuse your children with a passion for connecting with God’s word which they can begin to exhibit whatever their ages.
3. Apply creativity in storytelling!
Often, you can make a familiar story fun by reading the characters responses or comments in different voices and with emotion. For instance, when reading the story of Gideon, where the angel of the Lord appeared to him (Judges 6) – imagine how the angel would have delivered his greeting to Gideon……. with boldness and joy because he was bringing a message from God. Imagine that and read Judges 6:12 in what you think an angel with a message like this might sound?
Will you even be close, probably not (I don’t know what angels sound like either) but that’s not the point. The point is that you and your hearers just got a bit more interested in what you are reading! The limit here is only your imagination!
I also test my children’s bible knowledge by inserting humorous or everyday phrases in familiar stories. Often, I save this when I have the energy for a drawn-out session as they often want us to keep going! For example, when reading the story of the Wedding At Cana where Mary the mother of Jesus tells him “they have run out of wine”, I may read that as they have run out of wine and jollof rice…. which of course promptly causes the children to burst into laughter and declare “No she doesn’t say that!” Really? I question, so what did Mary say? Then they tell me, she said “they have run out of wine” or “they have no more wine”.
I then look again and say ahh yes you are correct and carry on with the story, silently looking out for where I can unexpectedly insert another word or phrase. Their laughter gladdens my heart, and I can imagine Jesus smiling at our joyous moments.
4. Ask them to choose the Bible reading. If you are reading to more than one, the children can take turns to choose what Bible story they like to have read. Apart from the pleasure of learning to take responsibility or being in charge, it makes the child feel that they too have a say, plus it grows their confidence in God as they store up His words in their heart. I will share in the next post how 9 months ago; God used this act of letting the kids choose, to teach me a lesson.
5. Ask them about their takeaways from your reading. Talk to God about what you have just read. Where the Bible speaks to you, put what you are troubled with (within reason) in terms they can understand and ask them to pray for you or for each other. Pray about their own concerns right there and then. Encourage them to also thank God for previous answered prayers. Memorising Bible verses is also a key part of making the takeaways from bible readings be part of children’s thought life.
I look forward to hearing from you as you put any of these tips into practice. Also if you have found other ways of increasing your children’s engagement with the Bible, please share! I would love to hear and learn from you. We teach our children many things as parents, encouraging engagement with the word of God should not be left out.
Thanks for reading x