There actually isn’t a great deal to be said on this subject that hasn’t already been said elsewhere. The same principles that apply to all other areas of learning apply to daily Bible reading with the littles, it is just that we are so afraid of doing that one wrong that we take ourselves a little too seriously, and we forget that the Bible is very capable of doing its own work as long as we are taking the time to present it.
The Equuschick does Bible reading with the littles at lunch. This gets messy (yes there is spaghetti sauce all over one little person’s Bible in particular) but it is necessary for her because She Can’t Do Mornings, and because in order for her to remember to do important things at all, she needs to anchor them to other important things. Like eating. It has also served the pleasant purpose of helping The Equuschick remember to do her children the compliment of sitting and eating with them. She is often tempted to sit on the couch and read her own book while they are happily distracted by the spaghetti, but it is better this way.(For one thing, less of the spaghetti ends up on the ceiling.)
Anyway. They were reading about Jonathan and David. Some days The Equuschick is very prepared and other days not so much. This was a not so much. She had one picture, and then she just read the text and elaborated as necessary. (From the NIV, if anyone’s interested. But for not any more particular reason than this was the version at hand at the moment.)
The children were not just squirrley that afternoon. They were RABID SQUIRRELS.
It was terrible. There was no evidence whatsoever that either of them was interested in a single word. Chaos. The Equuschick was convinced she had been wasting both her breath and her time.
During naps The Equuschick spent her own Bible reading time going through Nehemiah and devising an elaborate Bible study plan for preschoolers that would involve blocks, marches, visuals, and legos.
Hours later, as they were getting read for bed, The 2 year old Ladybug brought The Equuschick the self-same NIV Bible, dropped it on her lap and said “Wead to me about JonfanDavid.”
So. How to study the Bible with your children: Read it to them. They will listen. The End. The Equuschick could end her post right here.
However, because it is fun for the grown-ups to compare the tools of the trade and because it is fun (but not necessary) for the children to have pictures to look at, here are a few of the books in the Bible box on the dining room table.
*The Beginner’s Bible: Timeless Children’s Stories
This was a baby shower gift for the Dread Pirate Grasshopper, with a very precious inscriptions from an excellent older woman.
*The Beginner’s Bible for Toddlers (Beginner’s Bible, The) This is almost an exact duplicate of the above except that it is a board book style, which makes it very handy for when you’re trying to read the Bible to a 2 year old and a 4 year old and the baby keeps wanting to swat the pages.
Now, The Equuschick uses the above resources. She is not really opposed to them on a deep doctrinal level, but she’ll be honest. They often get under her skin and they disturb her sometimes. She can’t decide if she is just a Snob or not, but the fact remains that the Bible is neither a cartoon ‘nor a comic strip, and she doesn’t think it can be entirely a good thing to present it as such to small children. (Who usually have much better taste than they’re given credit for.)
For that reason, The Equuschick was delighted when she came across The Jewish Children’s Bible: Exodus at a used book store once, quite by accident.
From The Equuschick’s non-Jewish point of view it requires editing (all picture book bibles do, in her opinion) but the tone of the text and visuals are amazing and what The Equuschick had been looking for, for at least two years. The text is child-friendly while still linguistically pleasing and intelligent, and the visuals are stunning. Without being too terrifying, they still convey to small children the strength and power of what things like the crossing of the Red Sea and the smoke on Mt. Sinai must have really been like. Cartoons, they are not. (There’s evidently a whole set of these, and The Equuschick is going to work on accumulating all of it.)
Speaking of art, actual classical Art with a Capital A can be another fabulous Bible study tool for small children. If you must have visuals, you might as well use ones in good taste.
Music is of course another excellent Bible study tool, and that can also be done without resorting to what are basically cartoons-set-to-music. Currently, when they’re not singing regular hymns, The Equuschick and Shasta are using African-American spirituals.
But when all is said and done, all of the above tools are simply a sideshow. The Book is what matters. Read it to them, and read it often. Read it whenever a conflict arises where a bit of wisdom might come in. Have scheduled Bible readings, and unscheduled Bible readings. (The other day the 4 year old was on the couching screaming to The Equuschick “I AM IN CHARGE!”, and this called for an impromptu study of Eph. 6:1.) Read the Proverbs, again and again. Read the Psalms. Read them for Bible study, read them for poetry.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Heb. 4:12
If your read it, they will learn it.