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Tips for Reading the Bible with Children

Children’s literacy begins early in life with an immersion in language, and biblical literacy begins in the same way. As you read Bible stories to a child, your dedicated time says, “I value you and want to spend time with you.” Your voice transmits meaning. Your eyes express feeling. And while you are reading God’s Word, the Holy Spirit is at work to nurture faith—yours and the faith of the child you love.

Read to Me (Ages 2–6)

Reading Strategies

When you think of this kind of reading, imagine a big old chair with a child on an adult’s lap. As you read, your voice plays an important part in transmitting the meaning of the text. It can be loud or soft, fast or slow, high or low, but it must not be overdone or singsong. The eyes contribute too. They can be wide with surprise. They can be narrow with fear. Readers, like pictures, communicate the hidden meaning of unknown words through expression or explanation.

When you finish, close with awe and wonder at who God is and what He has said. Ask questions to review the text. Share your faith. Close with prayer.

Characteristics of this Age

• Likes to look at books with Jesus and Bible characters
• Loves to sit on a lap and hear stories
• Memorizes words
• Recognizes the Bible as “God’s Book”
• Retells Bible stories with some accuracy
• Can focus on one thing for three to six minutes

Read with Me (Ages 5–8)

Reading Strategies

It is so exciting when children begin to recognize words and then string them together in sentences. Once this happens, involve them in reading the Bible stories. While reading, children recognize sight words and use what they know about phonics to “download” the letters of unfamiliar words into words that make sense to them. When they encounter a problematic word, they look for picture clues and search their experiences for a word that makes sense. Encourage attempts to read new words and supply help when asked. It is also important to share the reading duties.

When you finish, compliment your child’s effort and talk about a favorite part or character. Share how the story is meaningful to you. Take time to pray with and for your child.

Characteristics of this Age

• Recognizes the Bible as a special book that tells about Jesus
• Visualizes Jesus as a person
• Enjoys the repetition of songs, prayers, and Bible words
• Understands that the OT comes before Jesus and the NT talks about Jesus
• Can focus on one thing for five to eight minutes
• Prays for the needs of others

Hear Me Read (Ages 7–8)

Reading Strategies

Gradually, your child will read Bible stories without much help from you. What a milestone!

At this stage, you are the listener, giving full attention to your reader. You provide help with words when asked. You explain difficult concepts. You make connections between God’s Word and your family or events of the day. You share your faith and, when finished, pray with and for your child.

Characteristics of this Age

• Can understand that God gives us everything
• Can understand that Jesus is God’s Son and that He died on the cross for everyone
• Shows trust in God
• Can focus on one thing for five to ten minutes
• Prays for others
• Begins to understand his or her personal history and biblical chronology

This article is adapted from The Story Bible, pages 10–12 © 2011 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.


For even more helps on reading the Bible with kids, check out the Bible reading issue of LutheranLife magazine.

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