Why I Quit Reading Bible Story Books

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A nightly event in the Beck household is reading. It doesn’t matter how early or late, my kids know that Mom will always read to them before they fall asleep. About a year ago, we made a stark change in our nightly reading routine. It’s been so effective for us, I wanted to share it with you, too.

We always read something entertaining, interesting, or intriguing at night, often historical fiction. But regardless of what “chapter” we’re on in our current book, there is always something that comes afterward.

For years, that “afterward” was a chapter in a Bible story book. We have shelves full of different Bible story books, because as soon as we finished one, we’d purchase another. I desire for God’s word to be the last thing my kids think about before falling asleep. So book after book we read. I must say, my kids know their Bible stories very well.

But I was noticing two things: my youngest daughter was not falling asleep, no matter how long I read. And then when she did finally sleep, she almost nightly awoke with night terrors.

Oh my.
Talk about making it tough on this mama.
Something had to change.

For me, change happens second because prayer needs to come first. Change on my own, means mess. Change through God’s direction is the only way.

So, about a year ago we changed our reading regimen. We still have a chapter book going. We’re currently on book six (of 8) in the Anne of Green Gable series. We’re also reading about the Civil War time period using Daughters in Time books.. But those books are meaningless compared to what comes next. We’re no longer reading Bible story books. We’re now reading the Bible. The straight, inspired Word of God. Bible stories are gone. Scripture is in. For the past year, it’s been Genesis, Exodus, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and so on.

So, why is that a big deal? I am not opposed to Bible stories, as long as they stay true to the word of God. BUT…I can’t find another book that has the same effect as the Bible. In my home, this is the kind of effect I have seen:

1. My youngest child almost every night now falls asleep while I am reading the Scriptures. She’s wide awake during the other stories, but once I start reading the Bible, I recognize a sense of calm rush over her. And I see peace on her face.

2. The night terrors have almost completely ceased. In the past year, I can count them on one hand. And when one comes, I quote scripture and my daughter almost immediately relaxes.

3. My kids ask me to read the Bible. Regularly they stop me in my chapter book to ask me to read the Bible. It amazes me that as they start to get tired, on their own, they have decided they don’t want to miss hearing the Word of God.

If they find themselves in fear, they ask me to read the Bible. I never tire of the sweet feeling that comes when I hear that request from their sweet voices.

So, what is the point of this message? Do I want to brag on my kids? No. It’s hard for me to even talk about them.

Do I want to ban Bible story books? Absolutely not.

But amazing things have happened in our home since we started reading the Scriptures. So amazing, that I want you to experience them too.

I encourage you to put the Bible on your non-negotiable list. Enforce a rule on yourself that you are going to read the Word of God every day. If you have children, you are going to read it to them. If you are married, you’re going to find a way to read it with your spouse. And you’re going to promise to read it every day yourself. Don’t feel you have to finish it in a year, or even two years. But commit to reading every day. I know that it will impact your life in a way that no other book can.

And when it comes to your kids, you might think the “real Bible” is a bit advanced for them. Or maybe you think the stories in the Scriptures are too long and Bible story form is better on the attention span. I challenge you to just “try it.” (Choose wisely, of course. Don’t read about Ahab and Jezebel or other similar stories.) But start reading different chapters in Matthew or Mark, or even Genesis, and see what happens. Because remember, “All scripture is inspired by God, and is useful for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16) Yep- there’s just something about reading Scripture that puts it in a category of its own.

And one more thought, before I sign off…reading Scripture before bed works for adults, too. If you ever find yourself unable to sleep, start reading the Bible. I pray right now that through doing so, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7) will bring peace and understanding to you and those you love.

You can never go wrong by reading the Bible. If you’re not doing it now, start with a few verses. I am praying for you because its an experience I don’t want you to miss.

-Jennifer Beck

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