Today’s guest post is from author and speaker, Keith Ferrin.
When I was a kid, I didn’t like reading the Bible very much. I didn’t dislike it. I believed it was true, and I thought that was enough. Thankfully, that all changed in my 20’s. How that happened is a long story, but the bottom line is I love the Bible now.
My wife and I have three young children. We want them to start loving it now…not fifteen years from now. We know that if they believe it’s true – and enjoy it – they will be much more likely to read it, internalize it, and be shaped by it.
In my book – Like Ice Cream: The Scoop On Helping the Next Generation Fall in Love With God’s Word – I boil down a year of conversations with parents, children’s pastors, and youth pastors into nine principles for helping kids love the Bible. Let’s look at one of them.
First, the What: Read It Together.
Sounds simple, right? Except that kids don’t always sit still and listen. (Or is that just my kids?) That said, something that Emilie Buchwald wrote still rings in my ears:
“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”
I hear countless grownups tell me about the books that their parents read to them. Little House on the Prairie. Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys. The Chronicles of Narnia was the series in my house. I loved them then. I love them now. I want my kids to feel about the Bible the way I feel about the Chronicles of Narnia.
But how? Here are three suggestions.
One: Expect it to be good.
This is huge. Our expectations typically coincide with our experiences. If we expect the Bible to be fun, we are way more likely to enjoy it than if we expect it to be dry. Sadly, most of us expect the Bible to be true, but we don’t expect it to be engaging and fun. If our own expectations are low, our kids will sense it as we read to them.
Two: Learn from Curious George.
When was the last time you read Curious George to a little kid? Did you give the different characters voices? Did you read differently when George was joyful, scared, or getting into big trouble? Of course you did!
Do the same thing next time you read the Bible to your child. Pretend that you are reading Curious George to a five-year-old. Give the characters voices. Read with passion. Change your tone. Pause. Get louder or quieter. Your kids will have heaps more fun (and so will you).
Three: Change it up.
Once I started looking more intentionally, I found that there are an unbelievable number of wonderful children’s Bibles and storybooks out there. We read different ones all the time. Here are a few of our favorites from the last few years:
- The Toddler’s Bible and The Preschooler’s Bible by V. Gilbert Beers – These have really colorful, engaging artwork, as well as discussion questions woven conversationally into the text. (My reviews are here and here.)
- The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones – This Bible shows how Jesus is connected to the stories in the Old Testament as well as the New. Make sure you get one of the versions with the audio CDs included (Deluxe or Collector’s). The narration is as good as I’ve heard.
- The Action Bible by David C. Cook – Hands down, the best Bible for 7-12 year olds. Written in comic book style, my kids always want me to “read another story.” (Here’s my review.)
There are many, many more. Feel free to email me (keith-at-keithferrin.com) for recommendations – or with some I should add to my resource list!
Read expectantly. Read with passion. And read a wide variety. Then let me know how it goes. (I truly want to know.)
Keith is giving away a free copy of Like Ice Cream to one of you! All you have to do is:
Leave a comment sharing why you think it’s challenging to read the Bible to your children.
One commenter will be randomly selected and the book will be mailed to you next week! For those of you who can’t wait, you can get it from Amazon here.
Giveaway ends Tuesday, Feb. 5th, at 11:59pm EST. Winner will be announced and contacted the following day. Please be sure to include your email address in the comment form so I can contact you.
U.S. residents only.
Keith Ferrin is a storyteller, author, blogger, and speaker whose passion is helping churches, families, and students fall in love with God’s Word. You can see some clips and connect with him on his blog, Twitter, or Facebook. Find out more about Like Ice Cream: The Scoop On Helping the Next Generation Fall In Love With God’s Word here.