If there was ever a time when kids should be reading the Bible, that time is now. The direction of the next generation is hinging on the spiritual formation of this generation. Our kids live in a world where they are bombarded with deception and temptation at every turn. If we want them to be able to spot counterfeit or to discern between truth and error, they need to to be familiar with the authentic Word of God! One of the most difficult spiritual practices for adults is often maintaining a consistent Bible reading habit. Because of this, I want to find ways to help our kids develop this habit. Below are some of the ideas that have worked in our family as we have learned how to help kids develop a habit of reading the Bible.
Video: How to Help Kids Develop a Habit of Reading the Bible
#1 Read the Bible to Them
The more you engage with something new, the more your appetite grows for that concept or skill. Each new time you approach it, you will understand a little more of it. The same is true of the Bible.
I remember learning in college Psychology class about the pathways between neurons in the brain. Every time a baby has repeated experiences, the pathway between those neurons becomes stronger. This is why little children want you to read the same book over and over again. It is also why pediatricians suggest you try a new food several times when starting a baby on solids. It takes repeated encounters to develop a taste and appetite for certain foods.
This concept applies to the Bible as well. The more kids hear the stories of the Bible and the style of the text, the more familiar it will be to them. Reading the Bible regularly to kids is a similar illustrations to what scaffolding is to a building. It helps prepare them for reading the Bible on their own. It will build a basic framework in their minds.
When you read the Bible or Bible stories to your kids, beware of the temptation to sermonize the reading. The purpose of reading is to feed their spirit. Trust the Word itself to work powerfully in their hearts.
Just as it is our duty as parents to protect, nourish, and care for our children, it is our duty as Christian parents to spiritually feed and equip them. Let’s “wash them in the water of the Word” and feed them with the “bread of life.”
In our home, we read the Bible to our kids morning and night. I read a chapter from A Child’s Story Bible at breakfast. (You can read more about how I Teach Bible in Morning Time here.) In the evening, we read a passage of Scripture together around the table after dinner. This is a short ritual that we have built in to our family life. Since it can be hard to gather everyone (especially in a large family), it’s easiest to read to them when we are already together like we are at mealtime. This practice is not something we are rigid about practicing. We miss readings from time to time, but it’s something we always come back to so that it has become a tradition in our family.
After sharing this practice with others, I once had someone ask me, “Are you afraid your kids are getting too much Bible?” My answer is this. A reading takes about 5-10 minutes. With all the other endeavors we make time for in our day, is that really too much?
#2 Approach Personal Bible Reading as a Habit
I approach personal Bible Reading the same way I approach other habits that I want my kids to learn, for example, brushing their teeth or making their beds. I know that brushing their teeth is a habit that will secure good health for my kids for a lifetime, so I am not ashamed to expect them to do this as a daily practice.
The strategy that has most helped our kids develop a habit of reading the Bible, is to put it on their daily checklist with the rest of their school work. As soon as a child is able to read independently, reading the Bible is the first item on the list. This way when they look at their checklist every morning, they know it is the first task to complete.
When they sit down to read the Bible, the intent is simply for them to read the content, nothing more, nothing less. The purpose is not for them to have an experience of some sort. If God convicts their hearts in some way or if they respond to the reading with private prayer, that is between them and the Lord. It is not expected. I cannot overstate that the task is very simple: read the Word. That’s it!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it legalistic to require kids to read the Bible everyday? If we tell kids how important it is to read God’s Word everyday, but don’t help them in forming a habit, I think that this could more easily lend to a failure mentality than if we treat it as any other habit we want them to establish. It is against a child’s nature to attempt to perform habits on their own. Small children need accountability, structure, and repeated encounters to establish habits. If we require them to do other subjects daily like math, writing, and history, why not Bible?
Does putting Bible Reading on a checklist turn it into a rote task to accomplish rather than a meaningful quiet time? That is a result that can happen, of course, but if the purpose is solely to spiritually nourish our kids with the Word, simply reading will do that. We can trust the pure Word of God to work mightily in their hearts.
#3 Give Them a Progression of Bible Reading
It has helped my kids to develop a habit of reading the Bible by progressing through different story Bibles until they are able to read the literal text. The ultimate goal is for them to be able to comfortably read the actual Bible. This is always what we are always working toward even as we give them simpler Bible storybooks. Here is a sample of the progression we use.
As soon as kids can read on their own, I give them The Young Reader’s Bible. We found an old copy at a book sale and it is now almost falling apart after having gone through all of our readers. Often the child who is reading this book will read through it 2 or 3 times before moving on to the next more difficult story Bible.
When they finish the Young Reader’s Bible, I have them move next to The Action Bible by Sergio Cariello. This rendition still has illustrations, but more written text for each page. Our kids have enjoyed how this book is written in comic book style with colorful pages and word bubbles with dialogue to tell each account.
The final book our kids read in this progression is The Child’s Story Bible by Katherine Vos. This book has chapters that are about 2 pages in length with large text and (almost) no illustrations. The chapters are written in a style that is easy to understand although some of the English words are a little older. This is the same book I read to them in Morning Time so that also helps it to be easy for them to read it. (They read at their own pace in a different section.)
#4 The Holy Bible
After this progression, our kids are usually ready (and excited!) to read the “real” Bible for themselves. This can be a special time to reward them with a new Bible of their own.
Bible Reading Plan
Sometimes it can be hard to read through certain books of the Bible and adding variety can help kids break this up. I have used a 4 day rotation with our kids to help them read through different sections of the Bible. I pencil this out on a sticky note that goes in the front cover of their Bibles.
- Day 1: Read 2 Old Testament Chapters
- Day 2: Read 1-2 Psalms
- Day 3: Read 1 New Testament Chapter
- Day 4: Read a Proverb
Scriptures to Inspire Us to Read the Bible
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
“The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.” Psalm 12:6
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
“Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day… I have more understanding than all my teachers…I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts…How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your precepts I get understanding. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119, various verses
“Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.” Proverbs 30:5
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What successful strategies have you used to help your kids develop a habit of reading the Bible? Leave a comment below and share the ideas with others!
Hi, I’m Sheri! I am a Christian saved by grace, married to my high school sweetheart, and a thankful mom to ten incredible kids. I’m a former public school teacher who never thought I would someday be a homeschool mom! Drawing on 13+ years of homeschooling experience, follow along to find help for getting started, tried and true homeschooling advice, life skills learning, simple Morning Time ideas, and interviews with everyday homeschool moms just like you!