The secret is out. Knowing how to teach a child to read the bible is the most effective tool in your children’s discipleship is Bible reading. Since you are the father, you are responsible to shepherd in this practice. Fatherhood is an assignment for which you will ultimately answer to God (Eph. 6:4).
Why is it critical to expose your children to the Word and get them reading? Let’s discuss why it’s so critical and what resources will help you.
Bible reading is critical to discipling your child.
Scriptures brings your children to Christ and can transform their heart (2 Tim. 3:15-17). That’s the primary message of Scripture—God’s plan to restore people to a right relationship with Himself through Jesus’s death and resurrection. The power of the Word of God can do what you can’t (Heb. 4:12). God uses His Word to convict your children of sin and draw them to Himself.
Once your child comes to Christ, the Bible is still more important to their soul than food is to their body (Matt. 4:4). You have the privilege of bringing them to God’s Word and teaching them the discipline and skills necessary to grow in their relationship with God.
Start by modeling daily Bible reading yourself.
If you struggle, invite a more spiritually mature man to speak into your life and hold you accountable. After all, how can you lead for God if you are not putting yourself in position to listen to God?
In the preschool years, read to your son daily. It’s best to pick a time and stick with it as much as possible. From the womb until age 5, he’s dependent on you to read to him. As he starts learning to read around grade 1, still, read with him daily. Again, be consistent with the same time each day.
By 3rd grade, expect him to read by himself. You should still read to him and with him (especially for family devotions), but it’s important for him to start taking responsibility to read for himself. Help him pick a plan or lay one out yourself. He should be able to read at least a paragraph—if not a chapter—per day through a book at a time.
Make sure he knows how important his daily Bible reading is to you. It’s more important than screen time, meal time, game time, or even homework time.
Make sure your child has a Bible.
One way to impress on him the importance is by presenting him a Bible at each stage with hand written notes inside the front cover or on the blank pages from you, your wife and any other godly and influential person in his life (grandparent, teacher, coach, pastor).
Here are examples by age:
- Ages 0-4 — The Big Picture Bible Story Bible
- Ages 5-8 — ESV Action Bible Study Bible
- Ages 9-11 — ESV Following Jesus Bible
- Ages 12+ — ESV Student Study Bible
Most of the above Bibles come in various covers from leather to hardcover and for boys and girls. The point is to make this a special, intentional moment in purchasing a Bible based on your child’s age and stage. Make a big deal of it—because it is!
With Bible reading, follow up is key.
Don’t miss the opportunity to have follow-up conversations about what they’re reading. It could be part of a weekly one-on-one time, a car ride, meal time, or group-sharing time during family devotions.
The last place you should be negligent in making disciples is your own home. As your children learn how to fix their eyes on Christ through daily Bible reading, they will grow as you disciple them in learning how to focus their steps to be like Christ. A transformed heart by the Word will lead to a transformed life according to the Word.
What’s the point in all this Bible reading?
Through time in God’s Word, your child will know the joy of better understanding God’s great love and growing more in love with God. They will be prepared to fight temptation and the daily battles they will face. They will be able, through their relationship with Christ and the equipping of the Word, to do what God put them on earth to do—to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever. And they will be prepared for the ultimate day when they stand before God.