Reading Scripture is an essential part of being Catholic and an integral part of any catechetical program. In this article, you'll explore simple strategies and printable resources that will enliven Catholic Scripture study for children in your religious education program. Plus, all downloads are available in English and Spanish.
Also referred to as Sacred Scripture or Scripture, the Bible is God’s Word, written by human authors inspired by the Holy Spirit.
The Bible has two parts: the Old Testament, which tells the story of God’s relationship with the people of Israel, and the New Testament, which is the story of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and his followers. The Bible is comprised of 73 books, which are divided into chapters, which are divided into verses.
Strategies and Resources That Will Bring Scripture to Life
Reading Scripture is an essential part of being Catholic and an integral part of any catechetical program. Go beyond the basics for children at home or in your religious education program with storytelling strategies that enliven studying and sharing Scripture in the home or religious education classroom.
Strategy 1: Scripture Theater
Readers Theater is an instructional approach that develops students as fluent readers through fun and engaging collaborative experiences. In Readers Theater, students have a script in which they assume roles, practice lines, and perform for classmates. This approach does not require costumes, a stage, or props, but is simply an opportunity for students to practice and refine reading until they are ready to orally perform and bring a text to life for their classmates.
Readers Theater has researched benefits. Repeated reading improves reader fluency and comprehension. Motivation and engagement increase through this highly interactive, fun approach to reading both independently and within a group setting. Borrowed from academic settings, Readers Theater can be a powerful catechetical tool.
Using Readers Theater as “Scripture Theater” can become a catechetical tool to engage children in a deeper experience of Scripture.
Download and share a seasonal Readers Theater script for the liturgical year in which children take on reading roles to retell the story of Jesus feeding five thousand people from Matthew 14:13–21.
Strategy 2: Storytelling
Jesus was a master teacher. He knew how very important the experiences of his listeners were. One way that Jesus taught was by using parables—stories that touched on the daily life experiences of his listeners. These parables helped Jesus’ listeners understand the meaning behind the stories. Through recorded over several centuries, these stories resonate with today’s reader and can touch on the daily life experience of the children and families in your religious education program.
To help young children come to know and love the stories of our faith, including Jesus’ parables, catechists and parents can implement some simple strategies to enliven Catholic Scripture study.
Storytelling is a powerful tool in educating children in the truths of the faith. Like the parables Jesus taught, good stories can help children connect to their own experience and the world around them. Stories inspire and entertain while they inform. They encourage empathy and exploration of important feelings and concepts, and develop social and emotional skills as well as language.
How can stories be included effectively in Catholic scripture study? They can be used to begin, develop, reinforce, or conclude a lesson. Stories can provide information, emphasize lesson themes, and help children make connections and discover insights into what they are learning.
Be sure that parents and children know how to navigate the Bible. Provide this simple how-to to share the basics of Bible reading and referencing. When you share Scripture stories together as a class or as a family, reinforce Bible searching and referencing skills by reminding students of the book and chapter of the story you’re sharing.
STEP 1: Ask children to locate a book within the Bible. Students should be able to use their Bible’s table of contents to figure out the name of the book if it’s abbreviated.
STEP 2: Next, tell children to find the start/beginning page of the book assigned to them. This information will also be found in the table of contents.
STEP 3: Instruct children to go to the page number found in the table of contents. Point out that they are now at the beginning of the book assigned to them.
STEP 4: Ask students to turn to a specific chapter in the book.
STEP 5: Once students have turned to the chapter, instruct them to locate a specific verse.
STEP 6: Read the verse.
Once children know the basics of navigating the Bible, they’ll be able to utilize these skills to search digital versions of the Bible, which can sometimes be found online.
For ten helpful tips on reading the Bible, visit this list published by the United States Conferences of Catholic Bishops. You can also purchase a copy of the NABRE here or explore a teen Bible here.