Often when children and teens attend Bible classes, the Bible stories are told to students rather than read from scripture. Or a student struggles to read through a passage while other students fidget or daydream. By the teen years, teachers may even just casually refer to passages of scripture assuming the students are familiar with them.
There is actually quite a bit of value in students being read to from the Bible by their teachers. Even secular educators are now encouraged to spend part of class time reading aloud to older elementary and teen students.
How can reading the Bible aloud to your students be helpful to them?
- Students will be more engaged with the scripture. As an adult, you are familiar with the difficult words and can add emphasis and other things that hold a listener’s attention. Even a student who reads well is generally unable to do this when asked to read a passage in the moment.
- You can help students with critical comprehension skills. The Bible is translated from other languages. This makes it more difficult to understand than a text originally written in English. The Bible is also full of things from cultures that are totally foreign to your students. You can pause as you are reading and ask questions or give explanations that will give students tools to use in their own Bible reading.
- You can ensure no important details are omitted or added that change the intended meaning of the passage. Curriculum writers with the best of intentions can sometimes accidentally add false teachings or mistakes by the way they present Bible passages in their “own words”. Often these little tweaks are so subtle, they are missed by teachers reading these summary passages or stories. The students, however, are exposed to these mistakes multiple times in different ways and they can become rooted. Reading from the Bible lessens the chances something will be left out or added to the original story.
- Studies have shown reading aloud to kids and teens lowers their stress levels. Wouldn’t it be great to have them associate that feeling of stress relief with being read to from the Bible? We all know God’s Word has that power, but our students may not unless they experience it for themselves.
- It allows you to stop at key points and discuss application principles. Some Bible stories have multiple application principles in them. Instead of waiting until the end of the story to discuss them all, why not pause from time to time and help students find, understand and think of applications to their lives for the principle in that part of the scripture?
- It allows you to ask those deeper, thinking questions students need to be considering to take true ownership of their faith. Have you ever tried to answer test type questions after just reading a summary of the plot of a book? It’s almost impossible, because there is a lot of valuable information in the details. The Bible is even richer than novels. Asking deep, thought provoking questions after summarizing a Bible story or passage won’t give them enough information to give truly informed answers.
- It gives you an opportunity to show your students your love for God’s Words. If you read with the excitement and love in your voice that you feel when you read the scriptures, your students may just catch some of your enthusiasm, too.
Reading Bible passages aloud to your students may feel uncomfortable at first for you and your students. If you take the time to use the extra tools it can give you though, you may just find it becomes a crucial and loved part of your class routine.