In my quest to be better at story time read alouds, I realized many of the tips found in read aloud handbooks are actually a perfect fit to also make Bible time more memorable. These tips have really helped me and I hope you find something useful below.
- Before you begin ask your children where you previously left off. Ask the children to give you some highlights from the previous day’s reading. This will rejog their memory as well as get them interested right away instead of trying to figure it out while you start reading.
“But for this book we could not know right from wrong.”― Abraham Lincoln
2. Ask questions during your reading. As adults, we have the attention span for continual reading, but kids need a little help sometimes to stay engaged. I like to pause when I start to feel like I am loosing them and ask questions such as, “What do you think is going to happen next?” “Do you think this will be a bad king or a good king, why?” “Who do you think wrote this book of the Bible?” etc. I find this instantly engages them again and who doesn’t like to vote or give their opinion.
3. End the reading on a suspenseful part. I use the One Year Bible and the passages are marked for me and they do a good job of ending on a point that makes sense. However, sometimes I like to scan a little bit ahead or a little before and stop on a suspenseful part. The kids undoubtably will be more eager to find out what happens the next day and you might even catch them reading ahead on their own.
4. Encourage participation. I mentioned this in my Bible video, make sure every child has a Bible and stop at certain key words, pausing to let the kids say the word out loud. You could also call on a child to read the following verse and keep them on their toes calling on them throughout the reading.
5. Use your voice. This is the same advice from the reading magic book review I did. Just like you would with read aloud books, avoid using a monotone voice. Speed your voice up in dramatic parts, slow down during sad parts and when the mood turns. Change your pitch for different voices and don’t underestimate the impact of dramatic pauses.
6. Slow it down. Sometimes as a parent you are thinking of all the things you have to do or places to get to and you might read through the Bible quickly without even realizing it. Reading slowly enough for the children to build mental pictures of what they are hearing is important. Reading quickly also will hinder your ability to do the previous tip of using vocal expression.
7. Act it out! This is one of my favorite things to do when we have the extra time. Assign parts after you are finished reading and let the children recreate the scene. If you have an extra 5 minutes you could all probably whip up some props or even costumes. This is one way to really have the stories sink in, young and old.
8. Be a good Bible coach. So many of these tips are great for read alouds and the Bible. When we get to a character that I know will be important later on, I pause and say something like, “Mmm, this (person/place/thing) could be important later on.” That way when it is, I can remind them of the previous marker when it was first introduced.
9. Answer questions. I realize this is something that you have to keep in balance or else Bible time will last all morning. I encourage the kids if they have a question during the reading to raise their hand. If they hold all questions to the end, after a lengthy reading they might have forgotten. Some of our best conversations happen as a result of a Bible question. It’s ok if you don’t have all the answers and search for the answer together. Think of the interruption as an opportunity to expand the child’s biblical knowledge.
10. Don’t confuse quantity with quality. Even on a bad day if you can only manage a chapter or 10-15 minutes, if they are 15 minutes filled with full attention and enthusiasm, they will last longer in a child’s mind than 2 hours of Bible cartoons.
Do you have any tips for me? Please leave them in the comments below!