Building Biblical literacy is a priority in my parenting. Is it in yours? If regular Bible study is something you want to establish and encourage in your home, read about how I read the Bible with my kids.
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From the time my oldest was a toddler, I started experimenting with different ways of exposing him to God’s Word. As I added a couple more kids to the mix and life got busier, I found I had to be even more intentional about establishing a regular routine of Bible reading and discussion. It took a few years to figure out what works best for us, but we’ve settled into a solid routine.
Initially, I searched for a kids devotional to use. There are GOBS of them out there, so I had no shortage of possibilities. However, I just couldn’t find one I liked for Bible teaching. They were either too light on actual Scripture or too heavy on elaborate activities I knew I would never actually do.
**Note: one devotional I liked as a supplemental resource was Indescribable: 100 Devotions for Kids About God and Science. It was super fun! For our main Bible lessons, however, I was looking for something much meatier.
It finally dawned on me to go to the BEST source for Bible literacy training – the Bible, itself! Hello!
So, that’s what we’ve been doing now for almost a year. We started off last summer reading various Bible “stories,” but at the beginning of this school year, I began reading chronologically (somewhat selectively — more on that below) straight through the Bible.
If you’re wondering if they get bored with that, the answer is not at all! Using the strategies in this post, I make sure to keep it engaging and educational. In fact, most mornings, they ask me to keep reading when it’s time to stop!
If regular Bible reading/study is something you want to establish and encourage in your home, read about how I read the Bible with my kids.
Related Post: How to Make a Family Discipleship Plan
Why Is Reading the Bible to Kids Important?
Let’s first talk (briefly) about why this was such a big deal to me. Why is it so important, as Christian parents, that we read the Bible to/with our kids?
It is important because in reading and discussing the Bible with them, we are building their Biblical literacy. We are teaching them what God’s Word actually says and familiarizing them with key narratives, people, events, and overarching themes throughout the Bible as a whole.
This is important because Biblical literacy will:
- Inform their theology
- Build (and strengthen) their foundation of faith
- Answer their questions so they’re less likely to be caught off guard or led astray
- Enable them to spot bad theology/false teaching
- Develop discernment skills
My Goals as I Read The Bible With My Kids
As I said earlier, I was very intentional in developing our Bible reading routine. I don’t want it to be something we rush through, and I want it to be so much more than a box we check in our day. I have very clear and specific objectives. Here are some of my goals for our Bible time:
I want to…
- Teach my kids to look for what the Bible says about God, rather than just themselves or their favorite Bible “heroes”
- Show them how the Bible is one continuous story
- Prevent cherry-picking
- Nurture a love for God and His Word
- Encourage them to view Scripture as the source of truth and wisdom
- Answer some of their big questions, as well as head off potential confusion at the pass
- Foster open dialogue and discussion
- Build the foundation of their own Bible reading routines
How I Read the Bible to My Kids
With those reasons and objectives in mind, here is a description of our Bible reading time. You might be surprised at how simple it is!
When I Read
We do our Bible reading (as well as Scripture memory work and prayers for the day) during the kids’ breakfast. That works well because they’re occupied with something that keeps them contained and quiet yet still allows them to listen.
Annabel (who just turned 3) is usually still sleeping, but she catches some of our readings when she wakes up early. I read to her separately (usually from her Beginner’s Bible) at other points in the day.
What I Read
As I said earlier, we are reading chronologically through the Bible. I don’t read everything – I summarized a good chunk of Leviticus and skipped/”creatively retold” some age-inappropriate passages (I’m looking at you Judges 19) – but we’re reading most of it!
I usually read a chapter at a time. If it’s a long one, I might break it up over two days, depending on their attention spans and our time availability. They almost always urge me to keep reading when I do!
As for the text I use, I read out of an NIV Adventure Bible. At certain times, I read from an NIrV or NLT translation, as well, to clarify something or give another perspective on the text.
How I Read
As with anything I read, I try to make it as engaging as I can. I often stop to explain things along the way if I think it might be confusing or unclear.
As I read, I ask comprehension and reflection questions – not a lot, just a couple of each. When I’m finished with the passage, I let them ask me any questions they might have (and they usually have a few!).
It sounds like a lot, but it doesn’t take long – only about 15 minutes or so. And I keep it super simple – NO crafts or activities! It’s not that I’m against those things; I’m just not that kind of mom. Plus – and maybe this is just because of our specific personalities – I haven’t found crafts and activities to be necessary in order to make the Bible interesting. The Word, itself, is enough to draw us in!
That being said, I may add in a few SIMPLE activities this summer, such as drawing pictures (for my preschooler) and jotting down notes or observations (for my 8-year-old), just to help them retain what we’ve read. Who knows?? I’m open to trying anything! If it makes them dread our Bible time, I’ll drop it; but if it helps them connect with our readings, I’ll keep it.
Tips for Reading the Bible With Kids
Now that you’ve seen how we do our Bible readings, here are some of my best tips for reading the Bible to kids:
- Establish a routine
Try to do it at the same time and the same place every day so it becomes a habitual routine. The key here is to pick a time and a place that works for you. We like doing it in the morning, but that might not work for you! For you, dinnertime might be better. It doesn’t matter when it is — just pick something you can consistently commit to.
- Do it while they’re occupied, but can still listen
It can be hard for kids, especially young ones, to sit still and listen. I have found it works well to read the Bible while their hands and mouths are occupied, but their ears and minds are still available. That’s why mealtimes are fantastic times to read the Bible to kids.
- Have a plan
Rather than trying to come up with something on the fly each day, it works better if you know ahead of time what you’re going to read.
- Be prepared
In order to explain the passage and answer questions, it’s helpful to read and study it first, yourself. If you’re new to Bible study (and even if you aren’t!), you may find a resource like The Bible Recap extremely helpful for understanding complex or confusing passages.
- Keep it short (ish)
Your kids will likely find it difficult to sit through lengthy Bible readings, especially if they’re not used to listening for long periods of time, in general. Match your reading length to their attention spans. Don’t underestimate them, however, and don’t be afraid to gradually stretch them out! Most kids’ attention spans can be developed and expanded with practice.
- Keep it engaging
How long they will sit and listen to you will depend in large part on how engaging you can make your reading. Read with inflection and feeling, and ask them questions to keep them engaged! (Don’t ask too many, however – you don’t want it to feel like a quiz.)
- Work with their learning styles
Adapt your Bible time to your kids’ individual learning styles. Do you have a visual learner? Have him/her read part of it. Auditory learner? Keep reading it out loud. Kinesthetic learner? Incorporate movement, actions, and activities.
Those are some things I have found helpful in reading the Bible to my kids. What tips would you add? Share them in the comments below – I’d LOVE to hear them!
Resources for Reading the Bible to Kids
Here are some of the resources I mentioned (and a few I didn’t):
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