As Christian parents, one of the most important things we can do for our kids is get them in the habit of reading God’s Word daily. However it can be hard to know where to have them start, or how to set up Bible reading plans your children will enjoy.
(This is an article that my son wrote about his desire for his children not only to READ the Bible, but also to ENJOY reading it.)
As a father, I am gripped by two main thoughts regarding my children reading the Bible.
1. I want my children to read the Bible.
As a father of three children, of which the oldest is six, I have already come to the very clear realization that (naturally speaking) I am incapable of raising godly children. I am constantly blown away by their brazen, unabashed selfishness, and to be perfectly honest, the simple fact is that at least my two older children have inherited their father’s bullheaded stubbornness.
There have been more than a few times that I’ve looked at one of my kids as they were fighting over something totally stupid and thought, “I have no idea how to ‘fix’ you.” Have you ever been there?
There have been times I’ve explained to my daughter why something is wrong, and yet, when I’m finished, it is so obvious that she would still do it in a heartbeat if she thought she could get away with it.
There have been many times I’ve gone to God in frustration and asked, “How do I get my kids to desire the right things? How do I change their selfish thinking?”
And that’s when God reminds me, “Mike, you can’t raise godly kids using natural means. Raising kids for Me is a supernatural work. You need to use the same thing that changed your life, your goals, and your desires. It is my Word that changes lives, not your logical explanations.”
I’ve come to the conclusion that the Word of God is my only chance to turn out godly children. I cannot tell you how badly I desire for my children to read the Bible, and I suspect that most of you who are parents feel the same way.
2. I want my children to enjoy reading the Bible.
Just as badly as I want my children to read the Bible, I want them to enjoy doing it. I don’t want Bible-reading time to be a drudgery for my children. The Bible is not a boring book, but most kids, growing up in our media-dominated world, don’t know that!
When my daughter reached the point where she was able to begin reading the Bible, I really struggled with where to have her read each day. There are so many great stories in the Old Testament: Genesis is absolutely loaded with great stories, but it also has a lot of really heavy reading. The same thing could be said of Exodus, Joshua, Judges, and every book from I Samuel to Job.
If you look at the New Testament, the Gospels look more inviting for a six-year-old reader, but then you run into the genealogy of Christ in the first chapter of Matthew. In John you have some awesome stories, but they are surrounded by long wordy debates between Jesus and the Jews.
The result of all this is that Beth and I usually ended up in Psalms which is obviously a great place to read, but I just felt like Beth was missing out on so many great stories, and the honest truth was, she didn’t like reading her Bible.
And being the “shy, introverted” person that she is, on more than one occasion, she looked at me with one of her dramatic expressions and said bluntly, “I just don’t really like reading my Bible.”
Somewhere during that time, I got the idea of just picking a different story from the Bible each day, and having Beth read that. I quickly discovered that that is much easier said than done. Bible-reading time then became a burden on me.
I would pick a story, find it in my Bible, and then realize that it was much longer than I had previously realized, or it was much heavier than I was expecting.
After a little while of trying to read Bible stories, Beth and I ended up back where we had started… in Psalms.
Now, obviously, I’m not being critical of the Word of God. It is perfect and powerful, and it has exactly what my kids need. I’m simply trying to illustrate that it can be very challenging to keep your kids excited about their daily Bible reading.
Now I certainly understand that there is something to be said for developing the character to just push through and make yourself read the more challenging passages of Scripture. However, I don’t believe that should begin when a child is just starting to read their Bible. I want my children to look forward to and enjoy their Bible-reading time, and that simply was not happening in my home.
As I struggled with Beth’s Bible reading, an idea slowly began to form in my heart and mind. Could I use a monthly-goal model for a children’s Bible-reading plan that is based on stories instead of entire books of the Bible?
It was a daunting task, but I’ve never been smart enough to realize when I’m about to get into something that is way over my head… So I jumped in.
It took way longer than I anticipated, but starting in Genesis, I worked my way through the major story-telling books of the Bible and broke each story down into bite-size chunks. The story “chunks” vary in length from 2 to 24 verses.
The biggest struggle was finding good stopping points as I worked my way through each story. Some stories are completed in a single “chunk” while others are broken up into dozens of “chunks.” The story of David’s life, for example has over 50 “chunks.”
When it was all said and done, I had 679 story “chunks” to use in my children’s Bible-reading plans… Yes, I decided as long as I’m putting so much work into breaking the stories down that I might as well create more than one children’s reading plan. I have created four levels that I’d like to make available to anyone who would like to use them.
THE FIRST LEVEL requires an average of 3 verses per day (around 90 verses per month). Approximately 30 of those verse will be in Psalms and the rest will be Bible stories in fairly small “chunks.”
I believe the largest “chunk” for this level is 12 verses. In the case of a “chunk” of this size, I as the parent just determine how many days we will take to work our way through it in Beth’s Bible reading.
Needless to say, I could not break each story down into 3-verse segments. Simply put, you as the parent will need to be involved, and if I may be frank, if you don’t want to be involved, it doesn’t matter what Bible-reading program you choose, your children are not going to read the Bible faithfully.
You will have a monthly structure to help you, but you will also have tremendous flexibility. You can read a story chunk the first day or spend a day or two reading through one of the Psalms assigned to the month. The order doesn’t really matter except when you are reading through a story that has multiple “chunks.” Obviously, it would make sense to read that kind of a story in chronological order.
Ultimately, you can really do whatever you want. Personally, I like giving my daughter some options to choose from. She enjoys having a say-so in her daily reading, and it’s good for her to be learning to make decisions within boundaries.
THE SECOND LEVEL requires an average of 5 verses per day (around 150 verses per month). Approximately 50 of those verses will be in Psalms, and the rest are Bible story chunks.
THE THIRD LEVEL requires an average of 10 verses per day (around 300 verses per month). At this level we introduce the child to Proverbs while continuing to read in Psalms. Approximately 150 verses each month will come from Psalms and Proverbs. As you can see, I am slowly trying to stretch their reading into different areas. Also at this level, some of the stories will be a little more challenging.
THE FOURTH LEVEL requires an average of 20 verses per day (around 600 verses per month). At this level the child will read through the entire book of Psalms once and through the entire book of Proverbs twice within the course of the year. In an average month about 350 verses will come from Psalms and Proverbs and the rest will come from story “chunks.”
Once again, you can see that I am trying to stretch them in their reading. If I child completes this level, I would think that he is more than ready to try a teen and adult-level Bible-reading plan.
As of right now, my daughter is working her way through the first level. Because of her reading level, Beth is moving through level #1 much faster than the recommended 3 verses per day. Beth is enjoying it, and Ruth and I absolutely love it! It has helped us so much, and I honestly believe that it could be a real help to you with your own children.
If you would like one or more of the Bible reading plans, just sign up below for this subscriber freebie. You will receive an email with the links to all four of the plans, and you can download the ones you want to use with your children. Get your kids excited about reading God’s Word!