If you have been a believer for any length of time, you know that reading the Bible is one of the most important ways we can grow spiritually. Reading, meditating, and studying God’s Word is a discipline that has some of the biggest benefits available to us in our lives:
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”
1 Timothy 3:16-17
If we want our children to be life-long followers of Jesus, we need to create an environment for them to fall in love with the Bible. This may sound like a daunting task- especially if many of us parents are still developing this discipline in our own lives. Let’s not let that hold us back from making the Bible a priority in our homes as much as we can. You may be surprised at how your family can grow in this together.
Here are 4 tips to try in your home with your little ones:
1. Use Age Appropriate Bibles (but don’t neglect memory verses)
“Your Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against you” Psalm 119:11a
Much of the Bible is written as a narrative. It uses real people’s lives to tell the story of God’s ultimate plan- to save the world and reconcile all people through Jesus. Every story in the Bible says something about who God is, and how much He loves us.
All human beings love a good story! There are so many great children’s Bibles available to us- go ahead and find a few that you and your child enjoy reading together. Take the time to ask questions and chat together after each story- How did we see God in this story? What can we learn from this?
I recommend taking a trip to the public library and browsing the picture Bibles together with your preschooler and trying out a few before buying copies for your home.
Picture Bibles are a great way to read the Bible with your littles, but don’t underestimate the power of reading and memorizing actual Bible verses together! Children as young as 2 or 3 years old are developmentally capable of repeating and memorizing short verses, hiding God’s Word in their hearts. This foundation will serve them well as they follow Jesus all of their lives!
2. Create a Routine
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
Everyone loves a good routine, right? We can teach our kids to value and prioritize reading the Bible in the same way we teach them to take care of their physical body in practical ways. Find a time and place that works best for your family and make a goal to read together every day. For some, it might work well to add Bible reading to an existing strong routine like bedtime, mealtime, or bathtime.
While you are establishing this, it might help to create a visual reminder- leave the Bible in a place you will all see it. Make a chart to track how many days you have been successful. Maybe set a family reward to work towards once you reach a certain reading goal. Whatever is fun and motivating for your family, go for it! But be careful- starting new habits can be bumpy at first. If you get off track, don’t give up!
3. Let Them Take the Lead Where they Can
“But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” Matthew 19:14
There is something really special that happens when we empower our children to take ownership in their own growth and health. We can teach them that the Bible is God’s special book, and good for us and let them take the lead in how to embrace that. This may look like reading the same David and Goliath story every single day for a month! In our house, it means they get to choose if mom or dad is the reader for the day, which is a very exciting choice for my kids to make. Letting our kids choose when and how to read the Bible makes this discipline their very own. Jesus wants our children to come to Him in their own way, and sometimes it’s best to just get out of the way. How can you let your child lead the way in your family Bible reading time?
4. Use all the Senses and PLAY PLAY PLAY!
“Ears to hear and eyes to see—
both are gifts from the Lord.” Proverbs 20:12
One of the best things about preschoolers is how God created them to learn through play using all their senses. It is so fun! Just like learning the alphabet takes years of exposure in different ways, reading the Bible with your preschooler does not have to look exactly the same every time.
In my house, we like to listen to an audio version of a children’s Bible while we play with play-doh or build with Lego. Also, there are many songs that are full of scripture that you can listen to together. Just read about Noah? Try making a rainbow smoothie together and talk about the colors of fruits and veggies you’re using as you remember God’s promises. Make a collage of nature items you find together on a walk together- God made it all! Act out Jesus calming the storm with action figures in the bathtub. The possibilities are endless.
If you’re having a hard time thinking of sensory activities associated with the Bible, check out Saddleback Kids Church at Home for more ideas.