Have you ever read your kids a picture book or a beginning chapter book? You probably naturally did some things to make it more interesting for your child. Yet when most adults read portions of the Bible to kids, they often begin to sound like they were raised in Shakespearean England. The reading is serious and somber and not very interesting to a young child (or understandable).
I’m not going to suggest you make reading your child the Bible into some sort of comedy routine. I do think we need to remember the stories in the Bible you read to your kids are probably either true historical accounts or one of the parables Jesus told. They are well written and true. They have godly lessons to be learned. They can also hold a child spellbound and make him or her eager to read the Bible for himself (or herself).
The next time you read a Bible story to your child consider adding the following elements:
- Use an NIrV Bible. The NIrV is written on a third grade reading level, making it easy to understand for even the youngest listeners.
- Read stories and parables. There are a lot of scriptures that are great for your kids to know. For reading the Bible to help them learn and get them excited about independent Bible reading, stick to reading them the stories and parables. They are well written and have a lot of things to grab the interest (and teach) kids.
- Be enthusiastic. If you sound like reading the Bible bores you, it will bore your kids, too. Let them hear your excitement about sharing God’s Words with them.
- Add voices. Are people talking in the story? Change your voice for each person, just like you would when reading a picture book to your child.
- Use facial expressions. Show the shock on Rhoda’s face at seeing Peter standing at the door or the disgust on the face at Naaman at being told to dunk in the dirty water of the river seven times.
- Add cultural, historical or geographical interjections. Your kids may need some extra information to understand the Bible story better. The Bible tells us Queen Esther took place in Persia. Persia no longer exists, but your kids may recognize its current name – Iran. You can look at the interesting facts for each of our Bible stories on our website – just click on the title of the story and it will take you to a link to the NIrV version, plus give you learning objectives and interesting facts to share.
- Show objects, maps and photos. If you have copies of biblical artifacts, maps or can find photos online of places, they can make the Bible stories more understandable, too.
Putting extra effort into reading the Bible to your children can ultimately get them more interested in reading the bible for themselves. It is definitely worth the extra effort.