KEYWORDS: bible, stories, children, reading, pictures

Bible Reading for Children

David Berg

—By Father DavidMODFO No.687

1. I NEVER GOT INTO MOTHER GOOSE RHYMES very much, they didn't make sense. I could hardly understand them. I think Mother Goose rhymes are really too deep for children. They're like cartoon poems and had political significance in their day. They're just too deep for kids. (Do you think for our children we should rule out fairy tales and just stick to the Bible?)

2. WHY USE FAIRY TALES WHEN YOU'VE GOT SO MANY TRUE BIBLE STORIES? You'll never get done telling them all the Bible stories there are, why use fairy tales? Now we've even got MO Letters besides, and some of them are about as wild as fairy tales!

3. ARE WE USING THE ABUNDANCE OF BEAUTIFUL, AVAILABLE BIBLE STORYBOOKS, picture books printed for children? There are lots of good Bible storybooks about Jesus, every page a picture just like the Sunday School calendars. Until we develop enough of our own literature we need to use them. I don't see anything wrong with those old Bible storybooks.

4. A LOT OF THE PICTURES WERE MADE BY THE MASTERS, by talented and famous artists and are really good. I mean as long as they're true and true to the story and they don't make Jesus look too sissified, as long as they have the usual conception of Christ and the different Bible characters, I don't see why we can't use them.

5. I CAN REMEMBER READING THE BIBLE TO THE CHILDREN WHEN THE LITTLE TINY ONES, HO AND FAITHIE, WERE ONLY ONE AND TWO. Of course they couldn't understand an awful lot so the littlest usually dropped off to sleep first. But they sat there and listened, and God only knows how much they absorbed or what they understood.

6. THEY'D SIT THERE OR THEY'D LIE THERE IN THEIR LITTLE BEDS AND THEY'D LISTEN TO DADDY READ THE BIBLE. And because the other kids showed interest, the little ones showed interest.—They really imitate their elders. I don't know if they always got a lot out of it.

7. BUT I KNOW FAITHIE AT THREE AND FOUR UNDERSTOOD EVERYTHING and wanted me to read the stories to her. (Maria: A regular King James Version?) I would read it‚ then I'd translate it.

8. I'D TAKE THE KING JAMES VERSION AND I WOULD TRANSLATE IT INTO THE DADDY VERSION, about every verse, almost every phrase you'd have to explain exactly what was happening. I'd read each verse and translate it, then I'd act it out, and they were just fascinated, even without pictures or anything.

9. IF YOU CAN FIND A PICTURE OF THE MAIN EVENTS, which a lot of Bibles have, or if you get a Bible storybook that's got good pictures‚ then you can show them the pictures and read to them from the Bible.

10. IT WAS IMPORTANT FOR ME TO HOLD THE BIBLE IN MY HANDS, one that the kids knew was a Bible. They knew that when I read from that book I was reading from the Bible, the Word of God, and what it said was authoritative. They expected that whatever it said was true.

11. I LOVED THE TEXT OF THE KING JAMES BIBLE. It's old English but it's simple English and it's beautiful English, and it's classical English. (Maria: But do you think it's simple enough for two-years-olds?) Yes, if you explain what isn't simple. When I told my stories to my children I tried to tell them so the youngest child understood it.

12. I ALWAYS LIKED TO GO IN AND TELL THEM A STORY WHEN THEY WERE GOING TO BED.—It was the last time of the night and they could think about it all night long. I'd pray with them at the same time. (Maria: Did your father read the Bible to you when you were little?) Yes,

13. I KNOW THAT IT WORE GROOVES AND CHANNELS IN MY BRAIN that were never erased, thank God. That constant reading of the Bible itself does take ahold and you remember, and they will remember.

14. EVERYTHING THEY HEAR STICKS IN THEIR HEAD!—Why give them somebody else's little jingles? All these things can be very very impressive.—Too bad they couldn't have Bible storybooks with the Scripture itself. There must be some. (Maria: So in reading them, stick with the King James Version.) I would say so.

15. I AM TOTALLY SOLD ON THE KING JAMES VERSION as being the most accurate, the most inspired, the most fundamental, the most beautiful, most classical‚ the most well-known and the most authoritative, the best recognised—it's got everything going for it.

16. (MARIA: DO YOU THINK THAT TO SHOW THE PICTURES FROM A BIBLE STORYBOOK WHILE YOU'RE READING THE SCRIPTURE FROM THE BIBLE WOULD BE GOOD?—Or aren't they realistic enough?) This Archbook art, for example, is certainly not very realistic—that ark doesn't look 400 feet long or big enough. Why do they always show something like this little cockleshell when it was at least as big as the Queen Elizabeth? These are almost caricatures, cartoons almost making fun of it! Why not have realistic pictures?

17. BUT THE BIBLE ITSELF, THE PHRASEOLOGY AND ALL‚ WILL STICK WITH HIM if you begin to plant it in him right now—I know it will stick with him. I'm sure that's why I know so much Scripture and I can remember what it sounds like, because I began so young.

18. THEY LOVE TO SEE THINGS ILLUSTRATED, BUT, BELIEVE IT OR NOT, A SMALL CHILD'S MIND CAN ILLUSTRATE THINGS BETTER than you can draw pictures. He can visualise things and imagine them, just through having the story told him. Well, it's a problem we really need to deal with‚ that's for sure, because here our children are coming up and I don't think they get enough Bible.

19. WE'RE VERY BUSY MOST OF THE TIME‚ but we try to see Davidito at least one hour a day. He likes to see us and know that we still love him, and one hour a day we sit here reading him Bible stories or something. By the way‚

20. I WAS PRAYING ABOUT THOSE ARCHBOOKS LAST NIGHT—I DON'T LIKE THEM. I'll tell you what they do, and they even make me do when I'm telling the Bible story: if I follow those words, it literally gives a comic book atmosphere and flippancy to the Bible story, like it's supposed to be funny. And they bring in a lot of untrue things which aren't in the Bible.

21. I USED TO TELL MY KIDS THE BIBLE STORIES STRAIGHT FROM THE BIBLE—I didn't have any felt-o–gram pictures or anything! But I kept their attention, even Faithie, two years old, because I told it dramatically and I explained it to them. I really had to pour on the action, but I kept them interested.

22. WHEN I WAS READING DAVIDITO THE BIBLE STORY FROM THE ARCHBOOK, I THINK HE WAS MORE INTERESTED IN ME than he was in the pictures. (Maria: Well thank God he doesn't like those pictures, because some of them are horrible!) I don't like those Archbook pictures and I don't like the flippant air of those jingles.

23. I'M BEGINNING TO THINK WE SHOULDN'T EVEN TELL OUR KIDS OLD TESTAMENT BIBLE STORIES. (Maria: Davidito's gone through a phase where he would frequently talk about killing.) One night after hearing all these Old Testament Bible stories about killing he said, "Well, I'm going to kill Baba because she's always grabbing my toys!" (Maria: And another night he said, "If somebody takes Baba I'm going to kill him!") This killing business,

24. WE KEPT TRYING TO TELL HIM, "Well you don't kill anything but mosquitoes and flies and bad bugs, honey. We don't kill people!" But then we turned right around and read Bible stories where everybody's killing everybody. It's horrible! I don't think this is the day for that.

25. KILLING WAS PART OF THE OLD TESTAMENT DAYS and that's done with. Today is the day of love. Jesus taught, "Love your enemies" which is totally opposite from the "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" thing.

26. I THINK WE OUGHT TO STICK MOSTLY TO JESUS AND THE NEW TESTAMENT IN OUR BIBLE STORIES FOR OUR KIDS, except for a few stories which you might be able to cull out from the Old Testament‚ like the story of the call of Moses or Creation or Jonah and the Whale and a few things like that.

27. WHY DO THEY HAVE TO MAKE SUCH A BIG THING OUT OF THESE KILLING STORIES? The people who made those books revel in those more than any others. Now the one about the Rich Fool, that's not too bad, he just died in his sleep, nobody killed him, although Davidito said he'd like to kill him because he wouldn't let the birds have any grain!

28. WHERE DOES HE GET THIS KILLING IDEA? Well my Lord, you read him the stories about little David. He killed the giant and chopped off his head!

29. I REMEMBER WHEN I FIRST HEARD ABOUT LITTLE DAVID KILLING GOLIATH with those stones. The first time I ever heard about him going up there and chopping off his head with his own sword, I was really repulsed! It was gruesome!

30. THEY WERE PRETTY BLOODTHIRSTY PEOPLE IN THOSE DAYS! Well, I guess maybe they had to be, they dealt with some pretty bloodthirsty people. But I think we ought to stick to the New Testament Bible stories for our kids and teaching love‚ the message of Christ.

31. THE OLD TESTAMENT STORY HAD ITS PLACE, BUT IT'S DONE WITH. The law's done with, the whole Old Testament history is done with and it's over. If anything, it just shows how bad things were and how bad people were and what a helluva mess God's people were as well. And we're not to be like that any more.

32. LET'S GET AWAY FROM THOSE KILLING STORIES. Let's get rid of those Archbooks. I just read two or three of them to him and it gets you into a flippant attitude about things. I prefer the Word of God itself, the straight Word. They make fun of it!

33. I THINK THAT THE KING JAMES TRANSLATION IS THE MOST POWERFUL English translation. It's the most recognised. I think it was the most inspired, the most fundamental, the most beautiful and the most widely accepted‚ and so it's the best to use, for adults and children alike.

34. THE MORE YOU READ THOSE VERSES OVER AND OVER TO CHILDREN the more they begin to really absorb them. Their minds are just like a little sponge, a little tape recorder, a little calculator, a little computer, they just sop it all up, and they're sopping up all that slop from those books which I don't like!

35. I'D RATHER LET THEM LOOK AT ONE OF THE BEAUTIFUL BIBLICAL PICTURES in that big Bible picture book and let them study that picture while you tell them the story or read them the story straight out of the Bible.—Or even some of those Bible story-books are better than those Archbooks—they're from our arch-enemy!

36. SO THAT'S MY FEELING about telling or reading Bible stories to children. But when it comes to small children who are learning to read and want to read for themselves instead of being read to so much, the King James Bible is not a children's reading textbook and they have a need for carefully selected simple children's illustrated colour Bible storybooks for their own reading.

37. WE CANNOT TOTALLY SHUN SYSTEM BIBLE STORYBOOKS, for if we do, our children will be sure to be reading books on every other subject in their unsatisfied curiosity and insatiable thirst to learn. It is better for them to be reading good System Bible Storybooks, even the paraphrased or condensed, than no Bible at all!—Amen?