My kids love to be read to – non-fiction or fiction doesn’t matter, so long as the story is a good one. They like short books, letter books, Berenstain Bear books (those are some of their favorites) and even novels. But it often takes us longer to get through books than most people. We don’t just read these books to our kids. We use them as teaching tools.
Reading is part of every childhood. Whether for pleasure or necessity, reading is something all kids learn. But have you ever thought about using them to help teach Biblical Character to your children?
While we are very careful and conservative about the types of books our children read, we do allow them to read “non-Christian” books. We do this for several reasons. First, there are many great writers out there that are/were not Christians, but their stories do not go against our beliefs or values. Second, as our children get older we use them for evaluation and report purposes. Third, they can be a great tool to teach them Biblical Character.
What is Biblical Character? Biblical character is built upon the Fruit of the Spirit – Love – and summarizes our walk with Christ. It can grow and shrink based on our growth in Christ. Character is what others see as an outward expression of our walk with Jesus Christ.
5 Ways to Use Storybooks to Teach Biblical Character
- Focus on one Character in the story. Whether they are good or bad doesn’t matter. Focusing on one character throughout a story can show you how “good people” make bad choices and how “bad people” can make good choices. Explain to your children that good and bad doesn’t matter if they don’t follow Christ. Everyone makes mistakes, but following Christ is the only way to guarantee our eternal salvation.
- Find the moral of the story. Every story has a lesson that can be seen, learned and taught. Some are more obvious than others, but they are there. This is a great exercise for older students as they evaluate and begin to analyze stories, but can easily be adapted for younger children with your help. It helps tie the story together for them and is another great way to teach Biblical character.
- Look for integrity in the characters. Integrity is something that can’t be learned from a set of standards, but must be taught. It isn’t easy to explain it without examples, so use characters from the book to show and teach integrity based on their actions throughout the story. This helps kids see and begin to understand what integrity really is from an outside perspective.
- Use the characters’ attitudes to your advantage. Our attitudes play a huge role in Biblical Character, but it is often hard to demonstrate or teach our kids without them seeing both sides. A storybook is a great way to see different attitudes from the characters in the book. You can do this by observing just one character throughout the book or taking several to compare and contrast. This is another great exercise for older students as they learn to analyze stories. We have often read books where characters were mean and disrepectful on purpose to talk to our kids about their attitudes toward us or a specific person or situation. This may seem strange, but it gets our kids to think about how they act and treat others when they see what it looks like from the outside.
- Filter everything through Love. Believing that Biblical character is built on the Fruit of the Spirit – Love – we can teach our children to filter everything through Love. God is very specific in how Love manifests itself – joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control. Have your child(ren) read the story by focusing on one character and how they exhibit those traits throughout the book. They can do this for several characters or for each character as you go along. It is a wonderful way to show them how our actions can tangibly be lived out and exhibit Biblical character.
What ways do you or can you use storybooks to teach Biblical Character?