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Monday, November 4, 2013

Getting Kids to Read the Bible

Working at a Christian school, we have a lot of devotion time. I lead one every morning and sometimes have a bonus video or discussion during the day. One thing that I have not encouraged is for my students to read their Bibles on their own.

Today, after reading the first three verses, I assigned Hebrews 11 to the students. They were to read the verse and take notes. Of course they had no clue how to do that. I told them to read it and write down anything that stands out to them, and any thoughts or questions they had about what they were reading. Here are some of the results (no names will be used, only gender)

Boy: I like this verse (verse 1) because it explains faith's meaning so fully.

Boy: We must have faith to please God like it says in verse 6.

Girl: Without faith it is impossible to please God because you have to believe in him!

Girl: When I think of faith, I think of the fruit of the spirit.

Boy: I think it was cool that just because Abraham had faith he became a father.

Getting a child to read the Bible is quite difficult. They do not see it as a book to read, but as a book to study. It's like reading a novel verses reading a textbook. As a teacher, I desire to make reading and learning enjoyable. This is doubled for reading the Bible. I was always read "The Bible for Kids" which was a collection of the best stories that was translated in kid-friendly language. Making the transition from that to the good ole' King James was a bit difficult. I prefer the New King James myself, but even that can pose difficult to young readers.

 So how do you get kids to read the Bible without it feeling like pulling teeth? Here are some things to keep in mind when teaching your child proper Bible reading skills:

  1. Read together. This age old trick is not only a bonding time for you and your child, but it is a chance to really teach them about how to read the Bible. We all know that (for the most part) you can't read the Bible like a storybook, but you don't read it like a history book either. It is something that is to be examined. Children are not going to understand most scripture right away, especially names and places. Sitting with your child and helping them pronounce words will help build their reading and phonics skills; a BIG double hitter! 
  2. Guide your child into the development of theology. Developing a solid theology at a young age is crucial for Christians. I praise God every day that my parents did this! Some people do not want to do this, thinking that a child needs to develop such on their own. Let me remind you that the scriptures say that foolishness is bound in the heart of a child (Proverbs 22:15a). Doesn't sound so easy now, does it?
  3. Set goals and rewards. For every chapter your child reads, they will get extra computer/TV/video game time. This is one example of a goal and reward. There can be many ways to approach this and ill vary depending on the child. Some kids can blaze through entire books in a matter of days. Some may take a week to read a chapter. The important thing is to ask questions about what they are reading to see if they truly understand what they are reading. 
  4. Ask them to keep a Bible journal. Like I did in class toady, ask your child to keep a journal documenting what they have read, the date, and ask them to jot down their thoughts or important things they want to remember. This will help with their comprehension as well as sharpen their note-taking skills.
  5. Designate a special time. Teaching a child to set aside time for specific tasks is a great skill and is one even adults struggle with. Also, teaching them to arrange their priorities properly will give them an enormous advantage in life. Teach them to develop an attitude like: "Have all homework and play time done by this time or it will have to wait until I have read my Bible."
Even if you don't have kids, you can use these five simple tips and tricks to help you and your spouse during devotional time. My husband and I often share devotions and discuss what we have been reading. When you are married, your spiritual life is no longer just yours. What you do or don't do will effect your spouse just as much as it effects you.

If you have any other tips and tricks, let me know. I always enjoy comments!

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