As our daughter became older, I wanted to find a way to help her start reading the Bible independently on a regular basis. She was a strong reader, so at first I encouraged her to read Genesis in her new student Bible. I soon realized that was a mistake. As with most people, she quickly got bogged down with the “begats” and other concepts that were not stories she could follow.
After numerous trips to Christian book stores, I finally found the perfect transition “Bible” for her. The Student Discovery Bible: A Journey Through God’s Word (Thomas Nelson), pulls over one hundred stories directly from scripture. What I really liked about it, was that in the margins it provided definitions for key vocabulary words, answers to common questions, archaeological discoveries and cultural and historical notes.
Our daughter enjoyed being able to read through the stories in the Bible without having to puzzle through a lot of the surrounding scriptures. The margin notes and pictures helped make everything more real to her. It also put things in a historical context with what she was learning in school.
After she completed that Bible, she was ready to take on reading the “regular” Bible. Zondervan has lots of great plans on their website. Your child can start by reading stories about Jesus or the stories that “you probably have never heard” in the Bible. They have reading plans that are more advanced as your child matures and becomes more comfortable reading scripture independently.
If your child is not a strong reader or struggles with the language that is used in the Bible, try purchasing a Bible written in the NIrV version. While it may not be the most accurate version in print , it is written in simple English and will encourage your child to read the Bible. As he matures spiritually and intellectually you can move him to slightly more accurate versions. (The NIrV may not be a perfect translation, but it is as close as you can probably get using simple words and sentences.)
Help your child by setting aside a special time during the day for Bible reading. Maybe your family can all snuggle on the couch together as you each read your Bible lesson or study for the day. The most important thing is for your child to observe you reading your Bible regularly. As with everything we do as parents, it sets a powerful example of how we live our lives.
The ability to read and understand your Bible independently is a critical skill for a Christian to have. You may be the only person who will take the time to teach your child how to read the Bible with understanding and joy. I encourage you to carve out some very special time in a very hectic day and share the joy of reading God’s words with your child.