Encouraging reading the Bible

As you’ve probably discovered by now, this year’s particular Family Formation focus is on becoming more comfortable with reading Scripture.  Besides being our Challenge topic, it was the theme of our October classroom time and three of this month’s Home Lessons, including the one you’re probably doing this week.  There are so many ways you can encourage your family to read more Scripture and I’ve listed a few guidelines below:

For your youngest kids, I’d recommend just starting with stories.  There are many, many resources for this age group from inexpensive individual stories (paperback for about $2 each) to children’s Bibles, stories on CD and DVD, the list goes on!   At this age, there’s probably little value for trying to present the Bible as a unified plan (in my opinion).  Preschoolers like to know that “God always has a plan” but making sure they understand the details of salvation history is probably too much information – it’s much better to just help them become familiar with Adam, Noah, David, Joshua, Paul, and of course, Jesus.  (They can put it all together later.)

At the next stage, their attention level is longer and they’re more capable of making connections.  This is a good time to re-read that story Bible, this time from begging to end.  The stories are still written simply and the pictures are helpful, but it’s at this stage that kids will start to understand the big picture from Original Sin to redemption.  While earlier they were just able to accept the fact that Jesus was born, now they’re old enough to question and start to understand the why of  His birth.  It’s more important at this stage (especially when you get to the New Testament) to make sure you have a Catholic Bible.

Finally, your kids will be at the stage where they can study the Bible and use it as a tool for personal prayer.  Presumably they are competent readers now and would greatly benefit from owning their own copy of Scripture.  There are many translations available, but if you want one to follow the readings at Mass, the New American Bible is closest.  Whatever translation you choose, it is critical that it have an imprimatur.*  Not only does this mean the translation of Scripture has been reviewed and approved, but so have all the footnotes and comments.  An imprimatur is the best way for Catholics to know their reading time will lead them closer to Christ through His Church.

There are many ways to approach reading the Bible at this stage (cover to cover, Bible Timeline or other thematic studies, randomly open and read, etc.), but one I always recommend is to simply read along with the Universal Church.  Every day of the week is assigned particular readings that, over time, can give you an excellent Scriptural education and it’s fun to know that every Catholic in the world will be hearing the same verses proclaimed at Masses that day.  You can always find these readings online, but it may be more convenient to simply find where they’re listed in the Sunday bulletin, cut out that section and tuck it in your Bible for daily reference.

Whatever methods you choose, combined with a little daily perseverance, are going to help you grow in holiness!

*Found near the front with the copyright information, an imprimatur is the official declaration by a bishop that the translation has been reviewed and is approved.

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