Special thanks to Rebecca Lee of Real Life Surprises for this helpful and encouraging article! Be sure to check out her fabulous and wisdom-filled blog for more articles like this.
Have you ever wondered when is the right time to begin to read the Bible with kids? I don’t mean kid versions with pictures and text summaries. I mean the big, word-filled book!
When should you start reading the actual biblical text to them?
Within this question, there are a lot of other underlying questions. Would they understand? What about the explicit content dealing with murder, sex, war, etc? What if they ask questions that I can’t answer? Would they just be bored?
You are not alone in asking these questions – I had them too.
It has been a process of learning and depending on the Holy Spirit to guide me and give me wisdom as I read the Bible with our kids.
I began reading the actual Bible with my kids when they turned five years old.
I am still discovering the wealth of benefits that is available in reading with my kids the Bible, and there are many. Here are a few I have discovered:
The Bible is Relevant
We began with the book of Proverbs.
Why? For young minds, this book is very concrete. It has clear right and wrong and instructions about living a good life. Furthermore, it is a book that most Bible stories don’t use, but many of the kids have at least heard about King Solomon.
We have had interesting discussions about marriage, how to keep ourselves pure, why we read the Bible and what do we do with it, and the list goes on and on.
As we read the Bible together, we learned that it was difficult to be passive. We started becoming active students of God’s Word and saw how relevant it is to life.
The Bible helps us have difficult discussions
As our kids get older, we wonder about how to talk about important yet sometimes difficult or uncomfortable topics relevant to life.
Reading the Bible with my kids has allowed us to explore these important and sometimes uncomfortable topics together. From marriage and sex, war and injustice, greed and generosity, instead of avoiding some difficulty and sticky topics that our kids will face, the Bible helps us to wrestle with them.
Some of the big questions about creation, historical accuracy, typical apologetics questions, and even questions pertaining to the canonizing of the Bible all come out as you read the Bible together.
What better place than at home to explore some of these big questions, and to help guide them think about some of these issues in an intelligent, thoughtful, and respectful manner!
We are in the thick of these kinds of questions as our kids are in the elementary age and we love it.
Reading the Bible with our kids have allowed our kids to begin encountering these questions first with us, their parents, in the context of the Bible. We love how they ask the hard questions and invite us into the process as we read the Word of God together. Also, we have been able to see the effects of sin in the world and in our lives, and how Jesus has come to restore us back to who we were created to be from the beginning.
The Bible helps us understand literature, geography, and history
We are discovering that it is impossible to read the Bible with our kids without learning more about the literary genres, the overall structure and the historical context of the Bible so that we can more fully understand what we are reading.
Reading the Bible with our kids has helped us to think more critically about the most important book in our lives.
When to Explore Difficult Topics
One of the biggest challenges and questions that parents have about reading the Bible with their kids is is that there are plenty of stories, teachings, and historical accounts that are difficult to explain.
The strategy that I have used with my kids is to read it and to let their level of inquiry lead our discussions rather than forcing my agenda onto them.
When an older kids ask a question that might be too difficult for the younger to understand, I generally answer the younger child’s level and follow-up with the older child to talk more in-depth about the question or topic of interest.
Modeling Our Own Process of Learning Obedience
There is something about reading the Bible with your children that brings unity of purpose and mission as a family. We are all accountable to the same teachings of God. We are all submitting ourselves to the authority of God’s Word.
As a family, we love doing book studies. We take weeks finishing a short book as we read verse by verse together for our family devotion.
Recently, we read the books of Haggai and the Philippians. They are short but have rich teachings our kids (9 and 7) can understand. My husband shared about how the book of Haggai had been speaking to him and as a result, we made some big decisions in our lives. The kids got to be part of the process. We all have been challenged by the Apostle Paul’s unashamed commitment and love to Jesus and his invitation for us to join him. They get a kick out of the fact that everything that the Apostle Paul had, he considers like dog poop in comparison to knowing Jesus. We want to love Jesus like he did.
The Bible stories that the kids have heard and read again and again have laid some great foundations for us as began reading the actual Bible.
Just as the kids move on from milk to solids, I see the process of reading the Bible together with them similarly.
They are learning to not digest the interpretations made for them from the Word of God. They get to learn to eat from the actual food in digestible chunks to prepare them to taste and savor the richness of God’s treasure available to us through His Word in the Holy Scripture.
If you’d like to ease into reading the Bible together, check out my Bible reading plan that goes through the book of Mark! Each day’s email contains a reading, family-friendly questions, and a devotional for the parents. Sign up here or click on the picture below!