Reading to your child from the Bible is one of the most important things we can do as parents. However, if you have been following our lessons starting in Genesis, you will have stumbled through some of the outrageous and adult-themed mistakes of our beloved Bible heroes.
Perhaps you are discovering these stories for the first time yourself and wondering how you will explain to your child that adultery, incest, and mass murder are common sins in the Old Testament. Do not panic I am going to share with you how to navigate difficult Biblical passages with your preschooler.
Age Appropriate Bible
One of your greatest tools will be an age appropriate Bible. Just because something is in the Bible does not mean it is appropriate for your preschooler. It is perfectly acceptable, and I recommend, starting with a preschool Bible. You can graduate your child to older levels when they are ready.
The Beginner’s Bible is one example of a Bible that is age appropriate for your preschooler. While it doesn’t cover chapter and verse, it does cover many Bible stories and it does not shy away from the topic of sin but presents it in a way your little one can understand and ask questions. There are many great Bibles that have different age levels so your child can level up using the same version. I recommend visiting your local Christian bookstore where they can help you find the right Bible for your family. Another alternative is to paraphrase the story from your Bible in a way that is acceptable for you child. In the downloadable lesson on our site, I have included a simple short story for each lesson which is age appropriate.
Reading the Bible from cover to cover is a daunting task for an adult. It’s a good idea to follow a plan or start with stories in the Bible that you know your child they can understand. There is nothing wrong with leaving out David’s complicated story of murder and adultery that resulted in the death of his son. Instead tell stories of his faith, song writing, and courage.
Remember the Main Message.
It is more important that your child learns the Bible’s main messages rather all the specific details. Bible is not a book of fairy tale stories with happy endings. The Bible reminds us that we all have a problem with sin. God is not surprised by this, He meets us in the depths and shows us the way out. These are the key messages you want your child to learn from stories in the Bible.
- God created us and everything on the Earth.
- All people have sinned. God is holy and He can not live with someone with sin in their life.
- God loves us so much He created a way so we could live with Him.
- He sent His Son to pay for our punishment and, if we believe in Jesus, He can live in our hearts.
- The Bible teaches us how God wants us to live. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self control, love God with all your heart, and love others.
- All God asks is that we are honest, confess our mistakes and ask for forgiveness.
These key messages can be found in every Bible story.
Focus on Age Appropriate Sin
Most of our Bible heroes were deeply flawed but, rather than identify all their sins in your stories, focus on sins your child can relate to in their own life. For example, focus on the sin of lying, pride, or stealing rather than adultery.
Some stories in the Bible are filled with violence. You can still tell the stories of how God helped the Israelites battle their enemies by using words like “fight” rather than “kill”. Discussing with your child that there are times when we must fight against those who are evil. It is a theme you can introduce to your preschooler just avoid the “how” of the fighting.
Know Your Child
Knowing your own child is the most important part of sharing these stories. Every child is different and will be ready for more mature themes at different ages. Introduce these themes slowly and prayerfully. Let your child lead with the questions they ask. When your little one has devoured the preschool bible, knows the stories by heart, and then begins asking for more detail you will know they are ready for more.
IIt can be daunting to teach your child the Bible but remember their theology at this age can be as simple as “Jesus Loves Me” or “God is Big” and there is nothing wrong with that.