One of the things that has given me the most joy as a parent is to have my 1st and 2nd Grade sons show a desire to read God's Word at their own initiative. My prayer is that their growing appetite for the Bible is a small spark that God will one day ignite into the fire of their salvation. While I'm so thankful for the abundance of Jesus-centered children's Bibles that have been published in the past several years--my kids are learning better biblical theology than I did until I got to seminary--children's Bibles are no substitute for the real thing, so I want to encourage them in their reading.
They've recently been asking what they should read, so I pointed them to the gospels. They love reading about Jesus--his life, miracles, crucifixion, and resurrection--but they are now asking if they can just start at Genesis and read the entire thing.
My first inclination is to respond, "Yes! Go start at Genesis 1 and soak it up!" But then I hesitate for two reasons:
I remember setting out to read the entire Bible when I was in the 3rd Grade, and I made it to somewhere around the middle of Exodus. That was the end of that. Now, I realize that, as adults, many of us have done the same thing--we make it to the giving of the Law, we either get bored or confused, and then we quit. To adults, I'd say, "Persevere! Our God doesn't waste words, and you can't understand the fullness of the answers in the New Testament unless you first understand the depth of the questions in the Old Testament."
But to a six-year-old? "Buddy, I get it. At this point in your life, your imagination is captivated by narrative, not logic. I want you to begin to understand the grandeur of the biblical storyline now as a six-year-old, so that by the time you're a teenager you will love Leviticus and Ezekiel."
I'll admit it. When one of my sons said that he wanted to start reading Genesis, the first thing I thought of wasn't that he would learn of the unrivaled glory of God who is creator and sustainer of His people and the cosmos. It was Sodom and Gomorrah. And Lot and his daughters. And Judah and Tamar.
While we've begun to have very rudimentary conversations about the differences between boys and girls and how God has created them distinctly different to complement each other to the glory of God, we haven't yet had the talk (that will likely come at some point this year with our oldest). The reality is that much of the Bible is Rated R, while my kids have barely seen any movies above PG. Again, we won't appreciate the Light of Christ unless we first understand the deep darkness of the world which He came to save, and I look forward to walking through these difficult passages as well as the accompanying theological and philosophical difficulties that come with the reality of terrible evil. But not quite yet.
So because of these reasons, I googled "Bible reading plan for kids", but I couldn't find quite what I was looking for. Everything I found either cost money, was a kid-friendly paraphrase of the Bible, or short and book-specific ("Read John over the summer"). So I just decided to make one for my kids.
I've tried to include the essential Old Testament narrative from Genesis to Kings, as well as Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, three Gospel accounts, several shorter New Testament epistles, and the last four chapters of Revelation.
If your kids end up using this structure, I hope that it helps to develop a life-long love for the Scriptures as well as cultivating more frequent conversations around the house about God's saving work through Christ and the effects in all of our lives.
Sola Scriptura, Soli Deo Gloria!
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