One of the most important goals of any class teaching Bible to kids and teens is to convince them reading the Bible is enjoyable and helpful. Unfortunately, many Bible classes do things that unknowingly make reading the Bible seem unappealing or even painful.
If you really want to encourage students to read their Bibles independently, keeping these tips in mind will help you be more successful.
- Have NIrV Bibles available in class and encourage parents to purchase them for their children. I know we emphasize using the NIrV Bible a lot at Teach One Reach One, but there is a very important reason. It is the only translation I have found thus far that is written on a third grade reading level (I am against paraphrase Bibles.). Any other translation is written on a middle to high school reading level or above. This means for any child (or adult) reading below those levels, the Bible becomes a frustration text for them. Which means every time they try to read their Bibles, they are frustrated because they are unable to read the words and/or comprehend them. Giving students Bibles that are easy to read will make reading them more enjoyable.
- Never call on specific students to read from the Bible. I have met quite a few adults who hated Sunday School because they were struggling readers. It became pure torture for them to attend class, because they spent the entire time worrying they would be called upon to read out loud. Don’t let reading the Bible become associated with embarrassment or other negative emotions that are unnecessary.
- For children under fourth or fifth grade, strongly consider having only adults read the Bible out loud. Even if a younger child can read the words, they are usually not fluid readers. When reading stories from the Bible, they won’t be able to add expression and other elements of engaging reading to the text. An adult can easily take Bible stories and add interest for the listener by changing voices, adding expression and other storytelling skills that will draw students into the Bible. The Bible is full of amazing true stories. Make sure they are presented that way.
- Explain Bible verses as you read. Bible reading comprehension is a slightly different skill set from regular reading comprehension. There are special religious terms that are used. Often we believe our students understand them because they can use them properly in sentences. In reality, most of them have no idea what many of these terms actually mean. The Bible was also originally written in languages other than English. Which means for most people around the world, their Bible is a translation of the original languages. If you have ever seen instructions translated from another language into English, you know sometimes the wording is a little awkward. To help your students become comfortable with the language of the Bible, they need practice in interpreting what they are reading into language they understand. Much of the Bible is easy to understand once you understand the flow of the language in it.
- Help students understand and appreciate the amazing wonder of the Bible. The Bible is without a doubt the coolest book ever written. Share with your students how God’s Plans are consistently woven throughout over thousands of years and dozens of authors. Show them how God’s wisdom is wiser than man’s even in our modern world. Show how God’s prophecies all come true. Teach them how to find life’s answers within its pages. Give your students a passion for reading their Bibles.
Changing a few things about how you use the Bible as you teach children or teens can help them become people who love and treasure reading God’s Words. It is one of the greatest legacies you can have in the lives of your students!