Our oldest children are 9 and almost 7, and both have professed a saving knowledge of Jesus and have been baptized. We are seeing fruit in their lives that only the Holy Spirit can produce: more love, joy, patience with one another, kindness, and an increasing desire to know God.
While we've practiced family devotions for years, our ultimate desire is for our children to have the tools to follow God beyond their time in our home.
So where do you begin?
I want to share the resources we currently use (and love) for encouraging independent Bible study for kids!
For our 9-year-old:
+ Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids by David Murray
(ages 6-12): You can use this guide alongside any version of the Bible and it offers a short passage to read daily, some simple questions, a place to jot down prayers, and a "map" or overview of what is being read. I love that this resource can be used entirely independently, and it only requires a few minutes a day.
+ One Big Story Bible (CSB)
: This is an unabridged but very readable version of the Bible that includes engaging illustrations, "Christ connections" which help kids understand where Christ is found throughout Scripture, and many other features to help kids that want to dig a little deeper. Both of our kids have this Bible and I highly recommend it!
Liam has made a habit of sneaking out of the room he shares with his siblings before they wake up and going into another room to read his Bible (using the Exploring the Bible guide), answer the questions, and pray. This wasn't something we ever required of him; he saw it modeled in our home and we simply provided the resources he needed to make it a habit. There are days I ask him what he learned and other days, I don't. I never want his time with the Lord to feel forced or coerced.
For our 6-year-old:
+ Learning God's Story Bible Reader by My Father's World: This is the perfect Bible for beginning readers, and even includes black-and-white coloring pages throughout. Lanie reads this Bible during her afternoon rest time and I've been amazed by how much she has understood and referenced when we do our family devotions.
+ Meeting with Jesus: A Daily Bible Reading Plan for Kids
by David Murray (ages 6-12): This is a similar resource to the Exploring the Bible guide (same author, same format), and focuses on the life and ministry of Jesus. We plan on purchasing this once Liam finishes his first guide. Each resource is one year long.
+ Kaleidoscope books
: My friends at Kaleidoscope are doing incredible work by publishing chapter books that chronicle each book of the Bible. Our son has loved reading these books before
he attempts reading the books from his Bible to gain understanding. These books are the perfect bridge between storybook Bibles (like the Jesus Storybook Bible) and an adult translation of the Bible.
- If you're just introducing the idea of independent Bible study for your kids, it's helpful to set a time and place for them. Is there a quiet time of day and a cozy chair they could use? Depending on the season you're in with other children, perhaps they could do their Bible study while you do yours. Even 15 quiet minutes would be a wonderful start.
- It's important to give your children an example of having a daily quiet time with God. But if they've never seen you reading the Bible, don't let that discourage you! It's never too late to start. Why not start a new habit together?