I believe a tremendous parenting tool, often overlooked, for instilling in our kids a love for reading the Bible later on in life is to read to them out loud now while they are young, and not only Scripture, but other literary children's classics as well.
God gave us his Word in written form for a purpose, and for parents to cultivate a love for, and not a fear of, this form of media, it can do wonders for their spiritual life.
Middle school Andrew would have never guessed that adult Andrew would even buy a book, let alone begin to read it, and actually finish it. "Only by God's grace, my awkward, gangly, younger self!"
Having quality, wholesome books available to me as a child fostered an appreciation for it, even if this appreciation went dormant during schooling years when reading was required.
Looking back now, of course, I regret not reading every title I was ever assigned.
Just recently I finished a long book I began in February of last year. That was definitely perseverance supplied by the Holy Spirit. (And to any wise-cracking friends, it was not 'Bedtime for Francis', or some other children’s book!)
In My Kids
Having seen a glimpse of the spark it can create in my three oldest kids (8, 5, 3), I encourage parents to minimize screen time (make it a privilege, not a right) and get into some good books with your kids, even just a short book a day to start!
The local library is an incredible resource. You can check out books for free every week, exploring new genres and themes. When you find certain books your child really loves, buy a copy for yourself and add it to your own family library. I am surprised at how often a child will pick a book off their shelf to read on their own. It has been a wonderful option for them alongside their various toys.
Here are just a few of the many classics our family has enjoyed:
Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink
Homer Price by Robert McCloskey
The Bears on Hemlock Mountain by Alice Dalgliesh
The Billy and Blaze series is also popular in our home as well as a few younger children’s titles like Froogy Went-a-Courtin’. and the Tractor Mac books. The favorites change often.
A wonderful devotion read aloud we started for 2016 is Billy Graham’ s God’s Good News Bible Storybook.
Through the wonderful morning routine my wife has devised for our kids, another benefit I have witnessed is how much Scripture a child is able to memorize by having one verse a week read to them (and repeated back) for less than five minutes time. Try it for one month and you will see for yourself! Having the capable ones read aloud to the parents, and younger ones doing their best, will boost their reading and comprehension skills as well.
I encourage both parents to take part in this activity. Dads, don't leave it to the mom.
One 2008 family study showed that children with an actively involved father in the home had higher IQ’s.
As a father, I love giving the characters foreign accents. Who knew the bridge troll in Three Billy Goats Gruff was Russian?
For older kids perhaps Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia series, Shakespeare, or Homer's Odyssey might pique their interest.
Obviously I cannot say this will work for every child, but give it a try and find out.
No matter how old your kids are, if you can get them to sit and listen, read to them.