If your child has entered the school years, you are probably well aware how much attention teachers give to reading and reading comprehension. Your family has probably been encouraged to listen to your child read, ask questions and probably even enrolled your child in some sort of reading incentive program to encourage your child to practice reading on a regular basis.
For some reason though, churches and families are often not as passionate about helping their children learn how to read and understand the Bible. In fact, many children raised in Christian homes get little if any training on how to read and understand the Scriptures.
Even simple versions of the Bible, like the NIrV (written on a third grade reading level), can be difficult to understand. The style of the writing is suited to ancient cultures with ways of saying things that are very different front the way we communicate ideas – even if the words used are simple English words. The way things are said may still sound like a foreign language or a tongue or brain twister of sorts.
There are some things you can do as a parent to help your child become comfortable and even enjoy reading the Bible. More importantly, doing these simple things will encourage your children to continue to read independently and to turn to the Bible for the answers they seek in life.
- Purchase an easy to read version like the NIrV for children and teens who have not been reading the Bible independently. Thankfully, the publishers are now selling the NIrV version with covers appropriate for older children, teens and adults.
- Don’t try to read the Bible starting with Genesis and going straight through with a beginning Bible reader. Begin with books like Mark, Proverbs, James, Esther, Jonah, Acts, Ruth, Luke, Matthew, Genesis, I and II Samuel, Judges, Exodus and even Psalms. These books either contain a lot of practical, godly advice or have mainly very clear story lines. The other books with more complex ideas, long genealogies or lists, visions and figurative language are great for when your child is more comfortable with the style and content of the books which are easier to understand.
- Sit down with your child and read or have your child read a few verses out loud.
- Ask your child to tell the verses again in his or her own words. You may have to help very young children with this process phrase by phrase.
- Ask your child what rule or idea God wants us to learn from the verses.
- Think with your child of ways to practice the rule or idea.
- Have your child practice the rule or idea from the verses.
You may wonder when you and your kids will have time to do all of this. Many schools require a number of minutes of reading at home each day. Often they leave which books are read up to the child. Consider using your child’s reading time for school to teach her or her how to read and understand the Bible. It’s the most important reading practice your child will ever get.