Bible reading with kids

I was asked for recommendations for resources that would encourage parents to read the Bible with their kids, especially in the six-to-ten-year-old age range. I can think of several, most of which my family has tried.

1. Bible Bites, from Youthworks. This would work best for families which have never read the Bible together before, and are not so familiar with the Bible. A bit too basic for kids like mine, who have had daily Bible reading for years, attend SRE, and Sunday School twice on Sunday!

2. Table Talk, from the Good Book Company (a bit like a UK version of Matthias Media). Family Bible reading notes, in undated three-month blocks, for ages seven to ten (but okay a little either side).

The link below takes you to the first in the series, but search their website for “Table Talk” and you’ll get the rest. In parallel with Table Talk, Good Book Company also produce XTB personal Bible reading notes for kids in the same age group.

We have found these very helpful for family devotions, and our kids really enjoyed the personal Bible reading notes.

3. For a change of pace, try reading a couple of pages of Bruce Ware’s book Big Truths for Young Hearts. It’s especially good for church kids who have become really familiar with most of the famous Bible stories, because it comes at the Bible from a doctrinal angle, rather than narratorial. I blogged about how it worked for our family (you can also see links to three previous ideas I shared for strengthening families in this article).

4. Another change of pace was to do Short Steps for Long Gains (Family Edition), by Simon and Kathy Manchester. Simon was an assistant minister at my church, and is now senior minister at St Thomas’ North Sydney. This little booklet has family devotions on 26 topics of the Bible, one for each letter of the alphabet, springboarding off just a couple of verses.

5. Here’s a new resource I am going to try with our kids: Long Story Short: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God. It is recommended by some American Christian leaders I respect. You can download a sample section of the book. It looks quite promising to me, although our kids are almost all out of the age range we are discussing. You can read Justin Taylor’s blog about it.

6. However, the most basic method we have used is just to read the Bible without any aids (except what’s in our heads from our own reading and study of God’s Word). You can do this as a family, or one-on-one with individual kids. It works well to get each kids to bring their own copy of the Bible to the table. We would all take turns reading the chapter (or half chapter) aloud. Karyn and I would think up questions or discussion points (sometimes using the Briefing Bible reading notes for hints).

Obviously you all need to use the same version. We found NIrV (New International Readers Version) or CEV was good in infants, and then moved to NIV with primary aged kids, although our kids are all good readers. The kids seemed to love ticking off each book of the Bible we completed in the contents page of their own Bible. The aim is eventually to have read every book of the Bible with them (or to have gotten them to read it on their own, as they get older).

I shared some advice from a slightly older Christian leader (and good friend of the Chins), Dave Martin, in my blog post ‘Read the Word with your kids’.

One other thing: you need to encourage your kids to read more broadly if you want them to read the Bible, as well as for their own educational development. Even if you are not a good reader, read to your young children! Persevere at it. Ask others for tips about what helps with kids for whom it doesn’t come easily or naturally.

I know a parent who really does not enjoy reading much themselves, and finds it slow going. But they made a point of reading to their kids when young every day, and making the time to take them to the library every week or so, and their kids have turned out to be excellent readers.

Lastly, I strongly recommend Matthias Media’s Daily Reading Bible booklets, for your own personal Bible reading. In each book, there’s about 60 undated days worth of personal Bible reading with a couple of questions and pointers for thought, plus a prayer suggestion. Why would you expect your kids to do it, if you are not doing it yourself?

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