How Do We Engage Kids With The Bible?

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

The KidzMatter Blog/Spiritual Formation/How Do We Engage Kids With The Bible?

Nothing changes our lives like being consistently engaged with God’s Word. And as parents, ministry leaders, and volunteers, one of the most important things we want is to help kids learn to read and study the Bible regularly on their own. But knowing where to start is challenging sometimes.

Is there an ideal translation or edition of the Bible to use? What kind of tools would be most helpful? How do I help my kids want to read the Bible in the first place? Here are three principles to guide you as you help kids engage with the Bible.

Model regular Bible engagement

So much of the Christian faith is caught rather than taught. That’s especially true of Bible reading. If we believe that reading and studying the Bible is important for kids, then we need to make it a priority in our lives. That doesn’t necessarily mean doing daily intensive studies or working your way through a rigorous family reading plan (though these are great things to do!). Modeling regular Bible engagement can be as simple as reading a Psalm or a chapter of a book and sharing one thing that came to mind as you read.

Choose an age- and experience-appropriate translation

When it comes to English Bible translations, we have an embarrassment of riches available to us. All are beneficial, but not all are equally accessible to all readers—especially children. Preschoolers and emerging readers may need a different translation to help them understand the Bible than preteens, high school students, or young adults.

For example, the International Children’s Bible (ICB) translation is ideal for younger children and emerging readers. The ICB is a complete translation of the Scriptures from the original languages developed specifically for children. Because it is written at a third grade level, this translation can easily be read by a seven year old on his or her own. By using short, uncomplicated sentences and language simple enough for children to understand, it is perfect for introducing Bible reading to the youngest in our homes and ministries.

For upper elementary ages, translations that will carry them into adult life are ideal. The New English Translation (NET) is a more recent complete translation of Scripture that balances accuracy to the original languages and readability for modern readers. Similarly, the New King James Version (NKJV) offers a faithful reading experience that also captures the poetic beauty of the King James tradition. Both translations are written at a seventh grade reading level, which means the average 12-year-old will have no trouble understanding them.

But those are only a few of the many options available. Whatever translation you choose, make sure it is age- and experience-appropriate. If it is, your kids are more likely to read it and understand what they read.

Share Bibles with entertaining and educational extras

When we think about “extras” in our Bibles, we adults typically think of different study tools like concordances, commentary, and devotionals. We focus on education, which is right and good, of course. We want resources to help us understand Scripture on a deeper level. But when we’re helping kids—especially younger children—we don’t want to forget another important aspect: we want them to be entertained as they read Scripture. Activities, illustrations, discussion questions, and memory verses all serve to help children enjoy the experience of engaging with the Bible, especially as they’re just getting started.

One great option for younger kids is The Garden Children’s Bible. This Bible features illustrations and stories by award-winning illustrator Butch Hartman (creator of “Danny Phantom” and “The Fairly OddParents”), along with Scripture-based prayer prompts, easy-to-understand applications, and activities. It’s a great edition to help kids develop a lasting love for Scripture!

A second option is the NKJV Study Bible for Kids. This is an ideal first study Bible for kids aged 8–12. All the study notes in this edition were written and designed specifically for kids—helping them to lay a firm foundation to grow in their faith as they discover and apply the important truths of Scripture.

A third option is the Foundations Study Bible. This Bible is an excellent edition to offer beginners and more experienced readers because it contains all the key features of a study Bible at a portable size. Older kids and teens looking for a Bible with more of a grown-up feel will love it!

With patience and prayer

Helping our kids learn to engage with the Bible isn’t easy; there is no magic formula or silver bullet. But as we do what we can—modeling regular engagement, opting for appropriate translations, and sharing Bibles with entertaining and educational features—we do so with patience and prayer, trusting that God will grow a desire to know Him and His Word in their hearts.

Aaron Armstrong is a Marketing Director with Thomas Nelson Bibles. He is also the author of multiple books, documentaries, and Bible studies, including I’m a Christian—Now What?: A Guide to Your New Life with Christ. A Canadian living in the United States, Aaron serves at his local church in kids ministry, a small group leader and as a part of its preaching team.

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