The Guardian found out that only half of young children are read to daily. With the Bible a key guide to Christians, Fiona Lloyd asks how we can encourage our little people to read.
As a child, I spent most of my free time with my nose buried in a book, so I was saddened to come across a recent Guardian article saying that in 2017, only 51 per cent of pre-schoolers were read to daily (down from 69 per cent in 2013).
Being a modern parent is a tough job. When our children are small, we find ourselves counting the hours until they’re all safely tucked up for the night and we can snatch a few minutes’ peace before crawling – exhausted – into bed ourselves.
Our lives consist of a never-ending litany of tasks: there are meals to make, baths to be run and clothes to wash. Work and church responsibilities have to be slotted in somewhere too, so it’s not surprising that reading to our children can end up feeling like an extra chore to be added to the list.
As Christians, we recognise the value of studying the Bible regularly. I guess if we’re honest, though, most of us find this difficult at times, particularly if we’re a sleep-deprived parent. The key here is to be creative about how we spend time with God. One way to do this is by reading the Bible with our children.
Even if our kids are very young, it’s never too early to start sharing our faith with them. And if we can view it as an opportunity, rather than a duty to be marked down on our schedule, this will save us from the guilt-swamp that so often engulfs us as parents.
Reading the Bible with our kids brings huge benefits for both our children and us. Having to explain spiritual concepts in words our children can understand challenges us to think more deeply about what we believe and why. A solid grounding in the Biblical narrative helps all of us – young and old – see how to live out our faith.
There are lots of fantastic resources available to help with this, such as children’s Bibles which cover key stories and themes in age-appropriate language. Look for “action” books which encourage children to get involved in the story by clapping, chanting or making funny noises, as even very small children can access these. And while electronic media have their place, there is something particularly intimate about sitting and reading a book or a magazine with your child.
Clearly, cash is often in short supply once children come along, but it’s worth investing in new reading material periodically if at all possible. (If not, maybe you could arrange to borrow some from your local church.) Choosing a new book together and then setting aside time to read it strengthens parent-child relationships and promotes an air of excitement around Bible-reading – which has to be good for all of us!