When I was a child growing up, it was common for families to read aloud from the Bible every day after the main meal. Beginning with a story Bible full of pictures, I was gradually exposed to the wide sweep of Scripture—from the pen of Moses to John’s visions in the Revelation. There is no substitute for this Story.
Though my husband and I carry on this practice with our own children, we’ve noticed that family Bible reading has become one of the casualties of busy schedules. I’d like to suggest that reading Scripture after a meal is more than a dry tradition. In fact, I can think of at least 10 benefits of reading the Bible together on a daily basis.
- It underlines the importance of the Bible apart from all other books.
- Hearing Bible stories often allows them to become a part of us. Internalizing the essential stories about God’s dealings with his people grounds us firmly in faith.
- The shared activity of reading the Bible together builds a bond between all who take part in it.
- It gives children a greater awareness of history in general and of ways of life that preceded cars and computers.
- Bible reading naturally leads into a discussion of what we believe and how we live it out in our daily lives.
- The Bible contains a rich and unique vocabulary. Parents can explain unfamiliar words so that they become part of a child’s own vocabulary.
- Children will be able to understand the biblical references that occur throughout Western literature.
- Bible reading exposes children to different cultures and helps them to appreciate the variety represented by various biblical characters.
- The Bible does not hide real-life problems and issues. Reading it together as a family will help children overcome the stereotype that the Bible is simply “a book of rules” or a fantasy story.
- Reading Scripture sets a model of literacy at home. Children see that reading is valuable and when fluent enough can be asked to take a turn as well.
During a summer road trip, our family tried audio versions of the Bible and listened to a narrative chunk each day while driving. Using innovative formats of Scripture now and then, including the film The Gospel of John, The Singing BibleCDs, or dramatized audio versions will accomplish most of the same goals as reading, as long as listening to them remains a shared activity.
When the family is pressed for time, I urge you to skip dessert—not Bible reading!