I've recently been writing posts about what strategies we have been using to teach our children about our faith. Here's what we've discussed so far:
Family Devotional Time.
We'd already been in the habit of reading Bible stories and books of a wide variety to our children. But we were feeling the need to be more deliberate. We wanted our kids in the habit of reading the Bible every day long before it became a struggle to fit it into a busy life.
So, when our eldest was about 4 years old we started reading a devotional book together as a family. We typically read it at the beginning of dinner, before the prayer. This seemed to be the most consistent time when all of us were together and reasonably focused (Mommy is not really awake in the morning - just functional). It didn't take very many days before our son was reminding us, "Devotion! We have to do our Devotion!"
The first book we used was "The One Year Book of Devotions for Preschoolers." (You can find it in my righthand sidebar under "We recommend:"). I really liked this one because it seemed to fit our kids needs at the time very well. Each day includes a short story, Bible Verse and a short directed prayer for each day. It's easy to use and not too long for short attention spans. The stories in it are not Bible stories, but are everyday situations a preschooler would experience, but with a Godly perspective and in kid language. For us it was a great beginning.
When we finished that book we went through several different Bibles for Young Children. But, honestly for that age (2-5), we just didn't like them as well as we had the Devotions for Preschoolers, so we decided to do the same book again!
Recently, we found a similar book that's for slightly older children, "Day by Day: The One Year Devotional for Young Children" It's perfect for our 5 & 7 year olds. Each day includes a Bible Verse, short description or discussion related to the verse, a question to discuss together and a short directed prayer. I like this one for this age because our children have (slightly) longer attention spans and are more able to answer open-ended questions, like those in the book. Each day prompts a bit of discussion of applying a Godly principal to our lives.
Now that our eldest is reading on his own, we'll begin encouraging him to read the Bible independently. We're currently looking for a good child-friendly translation. Anybody have a recommendation?
We have enjoyed this gradual age-appropriate entry into the Bible with our kids. I love watching them gain new meaning from a verse I know they've heard before.
We're still trying to figure out the next step. I'd love to hear from some moms of children a bit older than ours. What do you do to encourage your child to read the Bible independently and regularly?