Establishing good reading habits is a parenting "must do"! The Bible is full of great stories to read, discuss, and become so familiar with that we can turn to them for inspiration and guidance.
One of the best activities that parents can encourage is reading. The youngster who reads, or is read to, moves most easily back into the learning track in the autumn - or after any school break. So, a wise parent sees that kids have at least 30 minutes of reading time each day. Knowing your children best, you know how to encourage, reward, appreciate, even subtly legislate reading for enjoyment. And, while you're promoting reading, consider the Bible one of your key books. In it are stories of valor, intrigue, trust - even disobedience - intriguing stories that make an important point.
Depending on the age of your children, you will want to read the stories from a reliable children's Bible, the Living Bible, or another translation. And after having read them, it is fun to sometimes retell them in round-robin style (each participant adding a sentence) or act them out with each youngster playing a part.
Here are a baker's dozen stories worth reading. You'll note that there is a suggested point to make when considering each story:
- "Creepy, Crawly Creatures" (Genesis 1: 20-25, 30-31). Count up the creatures mentioned and ask how many the child has seen. Point out the unique nature of God's creation - each different, each special, each essential.
- "The Trickster" (Genesis 27: 1-43). Talk about how Jacob actually punished himself for his trick. You may want to read the companion story of forgiveness (Genesis chapters 29 through 32).
- "Big Bad Brothers" Deceit, loneliness, wisdom, and forgiveness are focal points in the story of Joseph. (Genesis 37: 1-4, 23-28; 39:1-3, 41: 41; 42: 1-2, 29-30, 43: 1-17, 23; 44: 1-13, 18, 33, 34; 45: 1-5). It's long but worth it!
- "Moses and Murder" (Exodus 2: 11-23). When Moses acted without God's guidance, what did he do? Did God abandon him? Ask if kids know what Moses does after this story?
- "Stuck in the Mud" (Judges 2: 6-18; 4:1-10, 12-14; 5: 1-12). In this story of Judge Deborah and Barak, which side appeared to be stronger in this battle? What did they have on their side? Ask what youngsters have to support them in "battles."
- "No Hamburgers!" (Daniel 1: 1-20 and also Daniel 6: 1-22, 25-18). Talk about how one feels when taking an unpopular stand. Ask if kids have ever felt the nearness of God.
- "No Way, No Way!" (Jonah 1: 1-17; 2: 1-2, 9, 10; 3:1-4, 11) . Find out what happens to a man who is disobedient and says "NO" to God. Was Jonah quick to learn what to do?
- "Kill the king!" (II Chronicles 22 & 23) . How can a baby king be hidden from enemies for six years? Find out how baby Joash was saved. What should be our reaction to so-called evil people?
- "Who's Calling?" (I Samuel 3: 1-10) . Was a frightened little boy, living far from his parents, hearing things? How can we listen for messages from God?
- "A Boy Gives Up His Lunch." (John 6: 1-13). Do you think Jesus' friends ever got hungry? Read what happened when they had no food to share. What do you think the boy told his parents that night?
- "The Tree Climber" (Luke 19: 1-10). Are you tall or short? Can you climb a tree? Can you change if you've done things wrong? Find out in this story.
- "The Two Hikers" (Luke 24: 1-3, 13-36). Two men go walking, feeling very sad, when suddenly something amazing happens that changes their lives. What can we do to make our lives better?
- "The Big Oops" (Acts 20: 7-12). Do you think that other people in the Bible can heal? Read what happens when someone "drops in" on Paul? Have your prayers been answered when you had a problem to solve?
Let youngsters choose which stories to read or hear by giving them just the title. Explain big words. Go over the story and the points it makes. Occasionally mention the "title" and see if the youngster can recall the story and the message.