Every year part of our third-grade curriculum includes teaching children how to look up a verse in the Bible. In the past I’ve used fortune cookies with a verse from Scripture as the “fortune” to make the learning fun.
We started out this class by handing out a Bible to each child and showing them the list of books of the Bible in the table of contents and finding where the Old Testament ends and the New Testament begins. Then we slowly went through looking up our first Scripture verse—by book, chapter, and verse. It was extremely helpful to have a couple of aides in class to assist in looking up the verse. When we all had found the verse, one of the children read it aloud. Then I selected another child to read the verse aloud from another Bible. They were surprised when the verses didn’t match exactly. Then I read the same verse from our classroom children’s Bible. They all agreed the version from the children’s Bible was much simpler to understand, both in words and context.
This was a great jumping off point to ask the students what type of Bible they had at home. A few enthusiastically raised their hands and told us about their favorite book of Bible stories, the special Bible they received for First Communion, or their own children’s Bible with pictures. Unfortunately, I was not surprised at how many of them told me they didn’t have a Bible at home or one they could read. Several of them said their grandma had a Bible or that there was a special family one on the bookshelf.
As we looked up and read more Scripture verses and familiar Bible stories, I asked them if they would like to be able to read the Word of God at home on their own. Everyone nodded enthusiastically. They seemed encouraged to learn that reading the Bible wasn’t just for grown-ups, and that they should also be reading the Bible at home as well as in church.
I recommended they ask their parents to get out a Bible at home to read, and if there isn’t one at home for them, they should ask their parents to help them get one. The next day I sent an e-mail to the parents of my class telling them of our excitement looking up Scripture and how their children were happy to show off their new Bible skills at home. I encouraged parents to find a children’s Bible or a book of Bible stories their child could read on their own or that the family could read together. As an aid, I also included a link to a review of children’s Bibles that I had written.
It is vital to nurture the students’ excitement for reading Scripture. When I learned that many of my students didn’t have a Bible at home, my heart broke. However, I’m hopeful that they will each gain access to a Bible so they can read Scripture on their own and draw closer to Christ.