Family Summer Reading

A great family activity is to read the Bible together during summer vacation. Maybe pick up a more modern translation of the Bible to help promote understanding and discussion.

By Caryl W. Krueger

Categories: Family, Summer

Summertime for youngsters is synonymous with good, old-fashioned fun: camp, vacations, freedom, adventure, and testing the limits. Summertime for parents can be synonymous with loosening the apron strings, trusting in God for safety, experiences that bring both joy and learning. The question is, how do you bring this all together with a limited amount of time? Let the Bible be your guidebook.

Now that the first flush of freedom from school has faded, it's time to subtly bring a small amount of structure to this full month of summer. One basis for adventure is a Bible written in contemporary language. If you don't already own it, get a copy of Eugene H. Peterson's "The Message." This book may very well become fascinating summertime reading for you, so remember that the primary purpose this month is to introduce it to your youngsters.

An exciting story - and thus a good place to start your family reading – is with the adventures of Paul and his friends. This begins on page 1993 (chapter 13 of Acts of the Apostles) with the section titled "Barnabas, Saul, and Doctor Know-It-All." Here is the "Star Trek" of New Testament journeys as Paul embarks on years of adventure, taking the message of the Christ to previously unknown venues. You might also like to use a Bible map to track his travels around the Mediterranean.

Grade schoolers and teens (yes, teens will enjoy this. See editor's note at the bottom) can read The Message on their own, easily covering a chapter a day. For younger children, you may want to read it first yourself and leave out what seems inappropriate for their age. You'll enjoy intriguing sub-heads added by Peterson, such as "To Let Outsiders Inside," "Beat Up and Thrown in Jail," and "Witches Came Out of the Woodwork." The book carries right on with the plots against Paul, a huge storm and shipwreck, snakes in the wood, and finally, Paul's days in Rome - the end of the book of Acts. Although the text is quite different from the King James version, it is factual and makes fascinating reading.

To tie-in with summer adventures, here are some mottoes - one for each week. Post the weekly motto where it will be seen often: on the fridge, the bulletin board, or the exit door. (The supporting quotations from The New English Bible are worth discussing.)

WEEK ONE: God keeps all of us safe.

  • " ...the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls, playing in the streets."(Zechariah 8:5)
  • "Then the wolf shall live with the sheep, and the leopard lie down with the kid; the calf and young lions shall grow up together, and a little child shall lead them; the cow and the bear shall be friends, and their young shall lie down together." (Isaiah 11: 6-7)

WEEK TWO: God helps us to be happy and have fun.

  • " You shall indeed go out with joy and be led forth in peace." (Isaiah 55:12)
  • " thy presence is fullness of joy, in thy right hand are pleasures for evermore." (Psalm 16:11)

WEEK THREE: God shows us how to get along with everyone.

  • " O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor are my eyes haughty:" (Psalm 131:1).
  • "How blest are the peacemakers: God shall call them his sons." (Matthew 5:9)

WEEK FOUR: God makes learning new things fun.

  • ....."do not forget my teaching, but guard my commands in your heart; for long life and years in plenty will they bring you, and prosperity as well." (Proverbs 3:1-2)
  • "Do not neglect the spiritual endowment you possess,..." (I Timothy 4: 14). Yes, neither child nor parent should neglect the endowments (abilities, blessings) we possess as children of God. This is a good month to make this point...with joy, with trust, and with love.