One of my concerns as a Bible class teacher of little ones (and as a parent) is for the children I teach to understand the Bible as history and not as fiction. Unfortunately, there are many people in the world, even some who consider themselves religious, who would argue that the stories in the Bible are fables. To counteract the influences of people in my child’s world who may try to undermine the Bible, I have done everything I could think of to reinforce the reality of the scriptures.
One of the easiest ways to help your child understand that the Bible is about real people, places and events is to continually tell them before you read or tell them a Bible story. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I even separated Bible story time from picture book reading times to create a boundary between the two types of stories.
As part of my teaching reading class in college, we had to teach an adult to read. I learned there are books written especially for older children, teens and adults who struggle with reading. They are called “high interest” books. The vocabulary is easier but the subjects are more interesting to adults than what Dick, Jane and Spot are doing.
The Bible can seem like a very intimidating book to introduce to your child. We think about all of the difficult words and concepts. We remember all those laws and begats and we start to feel a sense of despair. How can we get our child to read all of the great things God has to say to us, if he gets bogged down and never wants to open it again?
I have vivid memories of my third grade Sunday School class. My teacher was a sweet older woman who took scripture memory work very seriously. She would make us write long passages like John 1:1-14 in a special notebook and then take it home and memorize it. Did I mention it was in King James English? (I think I had to walk five miles in the snow to do it!)
I have to admit I probably memorized more long passages of scripture in those few months than I have at any other point in my life. However, I still feel a slight chill when someone says to turn in your Bible to John 1:1-14 or any of the other passages we had to learn.
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.
One of my weaknesses as a Christian has always been that I am inconsistent in my private Bible study. I will go sometimes as long as a year with consistent personal Bible study, but then I get distracted and am not nearly as faithful in my study times. (I am sure it hasn’t helped that most Bibles when I was a child were of the King James variety.) I have worked hard my entire life to try and make daily Bible reading a consistent habit. I wondered if I could find a way to make it a more natural habit for my own child.
I began reading a Bible story to her every day when she was an infant. I can picture sitting in the rocker holding her before she could even sit up on her own and reading the Bible story to her. I used the Baby Bible Storybook by Robin Currie and Cindy Adams. You can choose any baby or toddler Bible, but preferably one with lots of bright pictures and few words. (I have not really found them to be inaccurate, but you may want to read through it quickly to make sure that there are no glaring errors.)