A Window into Life in the Suburbs

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Luke 12:27 (NIV)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Integrating the Bible In Our Family Life (2)

It's tough, no doubt, to maintain a consistent habit of daily Bible reading for oneself.
Years ago, I attended one of those time management seminars and one of the things I learnt at this seminar was that to form a habit, one needs to engage in that activity for 21 days. It's probably true to some extent but it doesn't take half as long to undo a good habit unfortunately.
I'm scarcely a model of perfection in that area but I've come to the conclusion that doing it imperfectly is better than not doing it at all. It's hard with small children to be consistent with anything. There's always something to distract or interrupt. However, let me suggest that instituting a regular Bible reading routine for our children can make a difference not just for their edification but for our own spiritual maturity also.
Like everything else about parenting, determination is really the key to making it work.

There are plenty of resources out there. Really, in our part of the world, we don't suffer any lack of children's bibles.
For after dinner readings, I use the English-Chinese version of The Big Picture Bible to expose myself and the children to bible words and ideas in two different languages. The 3 year old is taken with the pictures and is happy to point to different things on the page when asked about them. The most obvious thing about this version is it's emphasis on the fulfilment of God's promises or covenants with the patriarchs and the nation of Israel throughout history.

We also read from Our Daily Bread, which is more for mine and the husband's benefit but the 9 year old seems to follow along quite well.

The 3 year old's personal favourite is The Beginner's Bible mainly because it's hers and hers alone. The big sister has not attempted to lay claim to it and so the 3 year old knows it's hers. There's a lot more emphasis on well-known Bible characters and stories here, stuff one would most likely go through in a Sunday School curriculum for the year. We've lost a couple of the early pages through toddler vandalism. What I do is read it to her some time during the day and we talk about the pictures and the feelings of the characters in the story. Then when we finish, she grabs it off me and goes through the story again on her own and flips through the rest of the book making up as she goes along in her irrepressible Tower of Babel style.

I also like the look of The Jesus Storybook Bible, which focuses on the centrality of Christ in Scripture. There's also an audio version that features David Suchet of Hercule Poirot fame doing the narration.

The 9 year old has her own devotional book which (I hope!) she's reading everyday.

We are huge fans of Colin Buchanan's "Baa Baa Do Baa Baa" at our place. It's a fantastic way to get children to memorize verses from the Bible in a fun, exuberant fashion. Most things by Colin are great teaching resources anyway.


Well, this is the tricky bit, isn't it? I'm not sure meal times work for everyone especially if there are crochety toddlers involved. With older children that would probably work much better.
We used to read Bible stories to the 9 year old before bed time and it seemed to work so well that she would hold us to account whenever we forgot or was trying to hurry her off to bed.


Using pictures -- point and ask
Q & A -- just the main facts, mam...
Memorizing Scriptures -- short and sweet but don't underestimate the kiddies
Using songs, hymns

It seems to me that we need to be realistic about what we or our children can achieve. As Buzz Lightyear pointed out to the daycare mafia, it all needs to be age appropriate.
What do you do with your family?


  1. This is something I've really been thinking about lately. We have had regular bible reading before bed since all the kids were babes. Once a week we try & have a devotion/activity (like an object lesson). I'm finding that we either need to do bible reading straight after dinner or make it the first book we read before all others before bed. Otherwise the kids get really restless and I get frustrated....which isn't a great example!

    Thanks for the reminder and some inspiration!

  2. Use the materials you have to open the door for everyone to a relationship with God. That he is not just in stories but alive, active and working asserting himself in our world.


Let me know what you think!