These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 (NIV)
I was recently reminded in a friend’s blog that lifelong habits are caught and not taught. No amount of clever ideas and media will share God’s Word and love with our children nearly as clearly as our own life and behaviour. So, when I was reading a short Bible verse on my phone a few mornings ago and my daughter, Gabriela (3), asked me what I was doing, I resolved to instead read a physical Bible in front my children each day.
There are a multitude of wonderful resources to help us build on that most important step of our children seeing our own lives and daily Bible reading habits. Here is a short description of four resources I am enjoying using at the moment and a list of suppliers and resources your can consider investigating for your family.
1. The Beginner's Bible
This is my favourite toddler's Bible. Some nights Gabriela can’t get enough of this book: We will have finished 10 stories and she will be asking for more! It is simply worded, not lengthy and the illustrations are bright, clear and helpful. The stories flow well so they don’t feel like completely separate stories but rather build up if you follow them in sequence. A slight oversight is that some characters’ faces seem to be slightly recycled so the disciple John looks a lot like Zacchaeus, a story Gabriela particularly likes. So when I am explaining the group of disciples she gets quite upset when I say it is John and we have to agree to disagree in order to move on.
2. The Jesus Storybook Bible
This is also a great book. We're not quite ready for this in our family as the images are a bit complex and the text too wordy for a 1 – 3 year old. The back cover recommends 4 – 7 years which I think is accurate, and this is the book we'll move on to when Gabriela is ready.
3. 365 Activities for Kids
I recently purchased this book for breakfast time. It is a desktop calendar-type book. Each day it gives you a Bible verse reference you look up and read with your child before completing an associated activity. These can include join the dots, spot the difference, colour in, puzzles etc. Admittedly, many of the activities are a bit advanced for Gabriela so I do simplify them for her and support her through those, but I'm also happy to have a book I know she can grow into. The book is also organised well with one day flowing from the next, so I tend to go back a day or so and recap what we learned the day(s) before which is helpful for Gabriela.
4. Read and Share Bible DVD
Children today are used to seeing things on a screen, and it's important to us that our children encounter God's Word in many different formats. This is an easy to follow, simple and interesting and both our children enjoy watching it.
At the end of the day, the right resources are the ones that work for you and your family. If these particular resources don't work for your child, don't worry about it. There are a huge range of options to explore together. If you have a tight budget, other mums at church may have resources they could lend you, or on Amazon many books and DVDs are available secondhand for a few pennies plus postage.
Here's a list of other resources you could explore:
- The Big Picture Story Bible (6 – 9 years)
- Stories Jesus Told (3 – 6 years)
- Ten Girls Who Used Their Talents (7 – 11 years)
- Ten Boys Who Used Their Talents (7 – 11 years)