Today, I want to offer you 7 suggestions for ways to use Bible story books with your young children.
(1) Read to them.Duh, right? But if you're like me and have oodles of Bibles and Bible story books on your shelves and aren't reading them, why not? Some days I let them pick out a Bible story from each of their books and we'll read them at breakfast time. I've found that reading while the kids are eating ensures their attention because (1) they have food to occupy (and quiet) them and (2) they can't get up and move around.
On days when Mama needs to eat too, we will have a Bible devo time after breakfast when we read from the Bible story book, sing, and pray together. Find what works best for you in your current season and go with it!
Okay, so if you have really young children who can't yet read, this mean seem ridiculous, but honestly, my 4- and 2-year-olds LOVE to "read" to their baby sister and me. At this point, they know a lot of the basic Bible stories and simply repeat them, and the ones they don't know, they make up, using the illustrations as a guide in telling the story.
I love it too because (1) I see how much their little brains have retained, (2) they get such a sense of pride in "reading" to each other, and (3) some of the stories they come up with are downright hilarious (not biblically accurate, per se, but funny and allow for discussion).
(3) Use to teach a character lesson.We've been having some issues with anger and jealousy lately, and I've found the Bible story books very helpful in identifying stories to share what God has to say about those character flaws. The Beginners Bible has a topical index, so I just have to search "anger" to find 10 different stories I can read to them.
(4) Have kids illustrate a story.On days when the kids want to draw or paint, I might have them pick out a Bible story and get their artistic juices flowing while listening to it. Giving them something to do while listening helps them to (1) sit still and (2) express creatively what the story means to them. Plus, we've had some excellent artwork come from this exercise.
(5) Practice sitting still & being quiet.As I've mentioned in a previous post, our church doesn't offer children's church, so it's imperative that our kids learn to sit quietly and still. To teach them this necessary skill, I have the girls spend a few minutes sitting quietly on the couch with a Bible story book to look at. They can "read" quietly or flip through the pages.No talking or moving around is allowed.
The Bibles (1) give them something to focus on and (2) keep their hands occupied for the set duration.
(6) Dramatize the stories.We have only done this a handful of times, but acting out the Bible stories--with or without costumes and props--is a good way to imprint the story in their minds. My oldest has fond memories of dramatizing David & Goliath over and over and over again, and she learned more about the Bible characters through role-playing. We definitely need to do more of this!
Our kids imitate what they see. When my darlings wake up early, they sometimes see Mama reading her Bible and praying. If it isn't too early, then I ask them to sit quietly and look at their books while I have "my Bible study time." So, it wasn't surprising when I caught my eldest having her own Bible study time "just like Mama." Be still my heart.
Now, if a child wakes up when I'm still reading my Bible, she knows she can get her own Bible out and have quiet time with God.
How do you encourage your kids to delve into God's Word when they aren't quite reading yet on their own?
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