How to Read the Bible — as a Family

By Janine Petry
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
One activity that doesn’t naturally rise to the top in most homes is reading the Bible together. Here is an idea for how to find the time for this activity.

Whether it’s pizza-and-movie Friday, game night or outside play on a long evening, families find things they enjoy doing together. And my family is no different. We’ve got our favorites, but there’s one activity that doesn’t naturally rise to the top of our list: reading the Bible together.

The one activity we know to be vital, Bible reading, is met with more resistance than we’d care to admit. And if you’ve ever tried to start a family Bible reading routine only to shelve it for another year — until your children “are older” — you’re not alone. But my family is beginning to see the value in a simple, guiding principle: Read the Bible anyway. 

The principle seems too simple, doesn’t it? But we’ve practiced daily Bible reading, whether we are able to do it creatively or not. When we don’t feel prepared for family Bible time, we read the Bible anyway. When no one’s excited about Bible time — we read the Bible anyway. Whether we had a great morning or a rough evening, or we still have too much to do — we read the Bible anyway. 

This phrase frees us to stop looking for the perfect setting, time, book, behavior and attitude — things we won’t ever find — and keeps us coming back to what matters most: an intentional focus on God’s Word. For us, it just doesn’t happen any other way.

Although there is no perfect “formula” for establishing a Bible-reading time, the following suggestions might be helpful as you make time to read the Bible with your family: 

Set expectations

As we read the Bible, my husband and I first make our expectations clear. We require every family member to treat other members with respect and courtesy, and pay attention. Paying attention and respecting authority are disciplines children need to learn. Part of loving one another means that we are respectful of others’ responses and exercise self-discipline during Bible time so everyone feels comfortable sharing and exploring the Scriptures.

Read right from the Bible

Some families choose to supplement their devotional time with resources that keep everyone interested and engaged. Although there is value in these books, it’s also important to read directly from God’s Word. To begin, especially with young children, work through one book of the Bible, and start with just a few verses a day. Since young children like repetition, you can repeat the selected verses many times during a single day — once in the morning, at lunch, after school, at dinner and then at bedtime. If it’s a short selection, your children may be able to repeat it with you.

Let them play

Preparing a selection of “Bible-time” toys or picture books for smaller ones can be helpful when you have a mix of younger and older children. Allowing children to quietly examine toys or look through Bible-story illustrations can help them participate in a way that is suitable for them when you are reading a longer Bible passage. But don’t forget them. Even with a longer passage, pick out a short verse that they can act out or repeat after you. In other words, set aside time to engage them, even as they play alongside.

Ask questions, and let your kids ask questions, too

Questions are “meeting places,” allowing the family to interact with one another and the Word. For older children, ask a question about a passage you’ve read, and listen carefully to their answers. Give your children a space to ask questions, too. Sometimes they will have questions, and sometimes they won’t, but they will know that there is an opportunity for them to ask. And when they ask, even if the question is simplistic, respond thoughtfully, without a lecture. A short answer will encourage them to ask more questions later. If you don’t have a clear answer, research the topic together and pray for God to reveal the answer. 

Explore different learning styles

Instead of always reading the Bible while your children listen, consider having older kids dramatically read the words of those who speak while you narrate the passage. Or pass the book around and have each person read one verse or one line or even one word, if your children are able to connect to the Word in that way. 

When you are able, take the next step and begin a more thorough examination of Scripture together. But even when you don’t have a formal study, you can connect with each other and God by encouraging a full range of creativity, whether illustrating, retelling or acting out a Bible story. Or if your family needs to relax, play Pictionary together, taking turns drawing and guessing familiar Bible verses. When you encourage everyone’s participation, you give family members active roles and help them connect directly to the Word while reinforcing their value and unique contribution to your family’s Bible time.

Copyright © 2013 by Janine Petry. Used by permission. 

Share:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

About the Author

Janine Petry

Janine Petry is wife to one remarkable husband, homeschool mom to four precious kids, and caretaker of one resilient aloe plant. Janine’s served as a writer and editor in Christian publishing for more than 10 years. She’s worked on the staffs of several Christianity Today International (CTI) magazines, including Today’s Christian Woman and Virtue, and as the assistant editor of …

You May Also Like

Thank you [field id="first_name"] for signing up to get the free downloads of the Marrying Well Guides. 

Click the image below to access your guide and learn about the counter-cultural, biblical concepts of intentionality, purity, community and Christian compatibility.

(For best results use IE 8 or higher, Firefox, Chrome or Safari)

To stay up-to-date with the latest from Boundless, sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter.


If you have any comments or questions about the information included in the Guide, please send them to [email protected]

Click here to return to Boundless

Focus on the Family

Thank you for submitting this form. You will hear from us soon. 

The Daily Citizen

The Daily Citizen from Focus on the Family exists to be your most trustworthy news source. Our team of analysts is devoted to giving you timely and relevant analysis of current events and cultural trends – all from a biblical worldview – so that you can be inspired and assured that the information you share with others comes from a reliable source.

Alive to Thrive is a biblical guide to preventing teen suicide. Anyone who interacts with teens can learn how to help prevent suicidal thinking through sound practical and clinical advice, and more importantly, biblical principles that will provide a young person with hope in Christ.

Bring Your Bible to School Day Logo Lockup with the Words Beneath

Every year on Bring Your Bible to School Day, students across the nation celebrate religious freedom and share God’s love with their friends. This event is designed to empower students to express their belief in the truth of God’s Word–and to do so in a respectful way that demonstrates the love of Christ.

Focus on the Family’s® Foster Care and Adoption program focuses on two main areas:

  • Wait No More events, which educate and empower families to help waiting kids in foster care

  • Post-placement resources for foster and adoptive families

Christian Counselors Network

Find Christian Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, Psychologists, Social Workers and Psychiatrists near you! Search by location, name or specialty to find professionals in Focus on the Family’s Christian Counselors Network who are eager to assist you.

Boundless is a Focus on the Family community for Christian young adults who want to pursue faith, relationships and adulthood with confidence and joy.

Through reviews, articles and discussions, Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live.

Have you been looking for a way to build your child’s faith in a fun and exciting way?
Adventures in Odyssey® audio dramas will do just that. Through original audio stories brought to life by actors who make you feel like part of the experience; these fictional, character-building dramas use storytelling to teach lasting truths.

Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored all-inclusive intensives offer marriage counseling for couples who are facing an extreme crisis in their marriage, and who may even feel they are headed for divorce.