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.)
I have a confession to make. My family is addicted to zoos and aquariums. We enjoy seeking out new ones when we travel. We have ridden a camel, fed a giraffe and touched sharks, sting rays, sea squirts and numerous other slimy and furry “critters”.
We live in Atlanta, home of the fantastic Georgia Aquarium. My daughter and I love to go there and just soak in the wonder of their largest tank. It houses several whale sharks (they grow to be the size of a bus) and thousands of other fish, rays and sharks. They have a classical music piece playing in the background that was especially composed for the exhibit. I always feel so close to God in that room. As my daughter and I sat there a few weeks ago, I realized she has probably heard the same dialogue from me a thousand times.
Over the years, I have had numerous discussions with parents about what to study with their children when they start asking questions about baptism. A few years ago, my own daughter began showing an interest in baptism. Over the course of a week, I wrote a study as we talked about what she knew and what concerns she and her friends had about baptism. I based the lessons not only on scripture, but on the common questions she and her friends had on the subject.
Over time I have lengthened the study. I did this for two reasons. One to provide meaningful support activities for parents to use to help their children grow spiritually either before or after their baptism. The second reason was to provide a subtle way for parents with children who really aren’t ready for baptism to continue the dialogue with their child over a longer period of time. The leader’s guide gives you guidelines about shortening the study for children who are ready and lengthening it for children who are not quite ready. The leader’s guide also has additional scriptures that can be used with children who need further study in a particular area.
I am making this available here for free to any parent who may find it helpful. May God bless you as you study with the children in your life.