Helping Your Struggling Reader Get Into the Word

Read this article for practical suggestions on how to help struggling readers with Bible reading and memorization.

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As Christian parents, one of our greatest desires is to see our children develop their own personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We want them to read the Scriptures on their own and to apply God’s Word to every area of their lives.

What happens, then, when the thought of reading the Bible scares our children and threatens to get in the way of their relationship with Jesus? How can we help those children who struggle with reading fall in love with the written Word of God?

This is a question that I deal with as I have two children with dyslexia. (You can find our story here). I can talk to them all I want about how important it is to read the Bible, but I will lose them as soon as I mention the word “Read”. To them, reading is a struggle and reading the Bible on their own seems like an impossibility.

But it is NOT impossible to help struggling readers learn and apply Scripture to their lives. There are ways that we as parents can help the Scriptures come alive to our reading-challenged children.  Today I will share five simple ways to do that, along with ten ways to help your struggling readers memorize Scripture.  That’s a lot to cover — so let’s get going!

Helping your Struggling Reader Get into the Word

1. Find a version that is easy to read.

The fact is, if you want your reading-challenged children to eventually read on their own, you are going to have to provide a version that is read-able for them. Find a version that is translated solidly but that also uses words that are easy for a struggling reader to decode. Large print versions can help, too.

2. Read to your child.

This is the perfect solution when your children are young, but even older children and adults benefit from hearing the Word of God read out loud. Find a reading plan and read as a family during the day, or read from the Bible or a Bible storybook before your child goes to bed.

3. Utilize audio books.

It did not take me long to discover the importance of audio books for my dyslexic children. They love listening to books and audio books allow them greater independence in their reading. Find an audio version of the Bible and challenge your child to “READ” his Bible on his own every day.

4. Play Scripture songs.

Music helps us remember things more, and setting Scripture to music will help your child learn and memorize it. Jumpstart 3 and Seeds Family Worship are two great resources to use if you are looking for good songs.

5. Help your child memorize verses.

I am often amazed at the memorization ability of my children with dyslexia. When given the proper guidance, they are able to memorize almost anything!

Side note: This year I have been going through the book of James with my boys. Our goal is to memorize the entire book by the end of the year. So far my 10 year old with dyslexia has both James chapter 1 and James chapter 2 memorized. I say this not to brag (although I do have to admit that I am very proud of him), but as an encouragement. Many kids with dyslexia have a wonderful ability to memorize. We can help our children get into the Word by helping them memorize as much as they can when they are young.

So how do we help our struggling readers memorize Scripture? Let’s look at 10 possibilities. . .

memorizing

10 Ways to Help Your Struggling Reader Memorize Scripture

NOTE: While these ideas are written with children who have reading disabilities in mind, these ideas can work well with ALL children, as all children benefit from using a variety of learning styles when memorizing Scripture.

1. Use motions.

Motions aid memory, and having your child create motions for the words of the verses will help your child memorize them. I do this with my Sunday School class often. It is fun to watch them recite the verses . . . if they get stuck, I start doing the motions and they immediately remember what the verses say.

2. Draw pictures.

This works especially well for children who are strong artistically (and many children with dyslexia are). Read the verse to your child and then let him illustrate it, or give your child a white board, read a longer section of Scripture and let him draw as you read. He can then share what he drew with you and explain how it ties into the verses read.

3. Draw using different mediums.

Let him draw the verse in flour, shaving cream, with sidewalk chalk, paint or markers.  Use whatever medium you can think of!

4. Use music.

As mentioned earlier, putting Scripture to music helps aid memory. It also helps if your child puts his own music to the verses. Have him take a song he knows well and replace the words with the words of the verse. Then have fun singing the new song together!

5. Get moving!

Some kids have an incredible need to move around. Take advantage of that need by using it to aid memorization. Have your child jog in place while reciting the verse, challenge him to see how many sit ups, push ups or jumping jacks he can do while you say the verse, or throw a ball back and forth while taking turns reciting.

6. Play a game of “echo”.

Read the verse a phrase at a time, pausing to have your child echo back exactly what you said and how you said it. Do this normally at first, and then start using different voices. It’s fun to do this opera style, rap style, football style, quietly, loudly, or with a different accent. Be creative, have fun, and watch your child enjoy the process!

7. Make a video.

Older children who are skilled with the computer will enjoy using these skills to create a video teaching these verses to others. A project like this will also help the Scripture stick in their memories for years to come.

8. Create snacks.

The kids in our children’s ministry LOVE to do this. Any time we do a food craft, we know they will leave remembering at least part of what we talked about that day. If you are stuck on what to do, simply give your child a variety of snack items and tell him to come up with a snack that represents the Scripture.  You might be pleasantly surprised at what he creates . . . and it might taste good, too!

9. Play “erase-a-word”.

Write the entire verse down ahead of time on a white board. Then after reading the verse together, let your child erase one of the words.  Continue this way until the whole word is erased and the verse is memorized. Many kids will memorize the verse long before the last word is erased. This has the added benefit of helping your struggling reader learn to read the words in the verse as well.

10. Let your child teach you the verse.

Read the verse to your child and then give him the task of helping YOU memorize it. Allow him to use whatever means he desires and then sit back and see what happens. Chances are you will both learn the verse, and you will discover what method of memorization he enjoys the most!

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

I mentioned above that my boys have been memorizing the book of James.  When we get a chapter memorized, we have been taking a day and making a video of the chapter.  (I say “we”, but my kids are really the ones doing all the work.)  I put our videos below for your enjoyment and, hopefully, encouragement!

And now it’s your turn!  What would you add?  How do you help YOUR struggling reader get into the Word?

Corbans book

Author: Cheri Gamble

Cheri Gamble is a minister's wife and mom to five boys who lives in Southwestern Lower Michigan. She and her husband, Tom, have been married for over twenty years and they have been involved with vocational ministry for just as long. Cheri enjoys working with the children and youth at her church as a Sunday School teacher, children's worship leader, and children's music and drama leader. She also serves as a volunteer consultant at the local Pregnancy Resource Center and works part time as a Youth Services Team Member at her local library. In her free time, Cheri enjoys reading, writing, working on her blog, and watching football with her boys.

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