If you have a child or you teach children, you’ve probably read countless reports and stats on why reading to kids beginning at a young age is so important. There is no doubt that reading is, in fact, fundamental. Words are the building blocks for a child’s vocabulary, worldview, relationships, and success in all areas of academics and life.
But what about faith? How does reading stories (other than those found in the Bible) help kids grow in their understanding of and relationship with God?
For those that homeschool, this may be a no-brainer. Faith and Bible teaching are often considered a priority subject added to everyday curriculum. But for other parents, the connection isn’t easily attained.
If we include faith and God’s Word in the valuable knowledge we want our children to grow in, we need to look for ways to incorporate conversations and experiences around this foundational subject into our everyday life.
One of the easiest ways to do this is through story time. Yes, it will naturally happen when reading the Bible or a Bible storybook with your child but faith-building moments can be cherished in the midst of any story—those overtly about God and values, and even those that are not.
5 Ways to Turn Story Time into Faith-Building Moments
- Look for value and character lessons. Whether you are reading Goodnight Moon, The Pout-Pout Fish, or a book that clearly points to God, look for specific value and character lessons as well as ways to relate the story and characters to the Bible.
- Stop and ask/answer questions. Sure, more often than we’d like to admit, we’re simply trying to get through the book before our tired and heavy eyes close. But when we stop and ask questions or answer any questions our child may have, we open a line of communication that might not otherwise be there.
In an insightful article on the American Psychological Association website, Jamie Chamberlin wrote, “Parents, teachers and others who read to children must also engage young children with lively, enthusiastic recitations that bring characters and plots to life, and pose open-ended questions that spark children’s comprehension, vocabulary and interest.”
Spark. What a powerful word when considering what story time can do for the little hearts we’re impacting everyday. When we refocus our story time conversations on God, we spark our child’s interest in Him and associate their spiritual development with precious family moments and delightful stories.
- Apply the story to a real-life situation. When possible, think about ways to connect the dots for your kids by applying the story, value lesson, and characters to their own life. A child will come alive thinking of themselves within the story and start to understand what he/she can learn from it.
- Keep the conversation going. Whether you read before bed or on a lazy Sunday, don’t let it end there. Bring up the story, the characters, and the lesson again throughout the week to continue to help your child grow in understanding.
- Use books that have an overt message. You don’t always have to use “Christian” books for family story time but make it a priority to look for some that include whimsical stories centered around solid, foundational teaching. (Yup, you guessed it . . . we just happen to have a few suggestions. Don’t mind us, it’s what we’re passionate about!)
We recently launched Minno Press, a brand-new children’s book imprint in partnership with FaithWords. We are so excited to finally bring God’s Story to life in book form for our children. We’ve spent months (years even!) praying about and planning all of our books for kids so that families have access to whimsical, practical, and useful resources to help guide their family faith while connecting through story time. You can find all of our new releases right here in the store.