As a mom of two, I’m always trying to incorporate the teachings of our faith into our daily lives. However, it’s much easier said than done. The other day my 2-year-old asked me if the scary Egyptians were coming to get her (from Exodus) and my 4-year-old asked if Moses and Jesus were friends (well, they’re both in Heaven, but Jesus was around 1500 years later…) The truth is, as much as I want my kids to read the bible, their sweet-and-simple storybook bibles are usually happy go lucky versions of popular tales, like Noah and Jonah, that lack the depth and weight of true scripture reading.
So how can you help your kids become better Bible readers?
First and most importantly: let your kids see you reading the bible! Kids are natural sponges who soak up the environment around them. If they see their parents eating junk food, they want some junk food. If they see their parents arguing loudly, they’re going to become louder. And if they see their parents prioritizing quiet time every morning to dive into scripture, they’re going to begin to associate God’s word with comfort, stillness, and peace. I know—you’re a busy parent, and you have a million other things that need to happen. The dishes aren’t washed and the kids aren’t dressed and the snow isn’t shoveled. But starting your day with reading your bible is truly the best way to get your kids interested in scripture.
Secondly, when kids ask their 8 million questions, get comfortable with saying, “I don’t know! Let’s look in the Bible.” Why did God pick Mary? Let’s look in the Bible! Why are priests not married? Let’s look in the Bible! So many of the simple, practical faith questions our children ask us can be answered by scripture. You want your kids to view the bible as a companion for the faith—something to turn towards when they’re unsure of the right answer. Looking things up together can be a great way to practice that.
Another tip? Verse memorization. Believe it or not, small kids are actually better than adults at memorization because of their brain’s level of development. It’s soaking up so much new information all the time that it’s actually more efficient at doing so. Having your kids memorize a simple verse, like a psalm or line from Peter’s letters, can help them feel more engaged in scripture time and more connected with the word of God.
Lastly, consider investing in a bible for your child. This will depend on his or her age—you obviously don’t want to hand a toddler a beautiful, leather-bound revised standard edition. But your children don’t have to be reading independently to be ready for their own bible. Put away the cartoonish bibles and find a children’s bible that’s beautifully illustrated with rich language. If your child is reading independently, consider getting them a beautiful bible that they’ll actually want to sit and read, as well as a journal for writing down their thoughts. By having their very own bible instead of the family’s copy, kids will be given the privacy to page through scriptures by themselves and feel a stronger sense of independence over their faith life.
Getting your kids to read scripture doesn’t have to be hard. It just takes time, persistence, and patience. You’re planting seeds that will one day grow into a mighty forest—a child who loves the word of God and uses it in his or her everyday life.