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Why Bother Reading Christian Books to Toddlers?

 
Carl Laferton | February 19th 2021

“I can’t remember a day I didn’t know about Jesus.”

That’s the aim for every Christian parent with little children. We cannot form faith in our kids—that’s the role of the Spirit—but we can show them Jesus. If the Spirit could prompt John the Baptist to leap in Elizabeth’s womb when the unborn Jesus came close to him (Luke 1:44), then He can cause your toddler to love the Son of God when the gospel of the Lord Jesus is heard by them.

Why bother reading Christian books to toddlers? Four reasons…

1. The Gospel is Powerful

Timothy learned the gospel from his mother: years later, when he was a pastor through whom God was accomplishing great things, Paul could say “from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures” (2 Timothy 3:15). The word of God is “alive and active” (Hebrews 4:12) and it is the way that God saves people (Romans 1:16). There’s no lower age limit for that to be true: you can, as it were, be born again very young (it seems that John the Baptist was born again before he was born!) So, read Scripture to your toddler. (I know someone who read Luke’s Gospel to their child while he was in the womb.)

"Many wish they’d started Bible reading with their kids earlier; no one wishes they’d started later."

Read books that teach Scriptural truth to your toddler. It’s (very) unlikely that they will jump up and, after giving a five-minute exposition of Christ’s penal substitutionary sacrifice on the cross, pray a long prayer of repentance. It’s pretty unlikely you will be able to see what the gospel is doing in their heart. But you can tell them the gospel, and pray for them, and know that you are giving them all they need to respond with a toddler’s faith and have eternal life. 

2. You’re Making Learning about Jesus a Part of Normal Life

If you don’t start when they’re babies or toddlers, the question is: when will you start? It’s not hard to find parents who are trying and battling to get their five-year-old, or ten-year-old, or 15-year-old, to start doing Bible times with their family. Many wish they’d started earlier; no one wishes they’d started later.

Many wish they’d started Bible reading with their kids earlier; no one wishes they’d started later.

If you start the habit of reading a Bible-based story (or the Bible itself) to your kids before they can remember, then you’ll never need to start when they’re older. (That’s not to say family Bible times will be easy when they’re older. But they’ll be easier.) Our faith is for all of life, for the whole of life, and it’s never too early to show that to our kids through what we choose to do and read to them as we spend time with them.

The Garden, the Curtain, and the Cross Board Book

The Garden, the Curtain, and the Cross Board Book

$9.99 $8.49

Board book for toddlers that introduces them to the big story of the Bible and why Jesus died and rose again.

3. They Understand More Than We’d Think (and they’ll catch up with the rest)

Just as a toddler learns language by listening to what they don’t yet understand, so with Christian truth. We’re giving them a framework for life and biblical concepts that they won’t fully grasp, but that they will increasingly grasp as they grow. Their level of understanding will catch up with what they’re hearing.

This isn’t an encouragement to read Calvin’s Institutes to a two-year-old; we need to work to find books that present the truth of the Bible faithfully and as simply as possible. But if they don’t “get it”, that’s ok. They will. And often, little kids “get it” more than we anticipate.

I remember reading my book The Garden, the Curtain and the Cross to my two-year-old when it came out. It has a four-line rhyme in it that sums up the gospel. To my amazement, after a few read-throughs from me, she could recount the lines. That’s why I’ve included that rhyme in the new board-book version for toddlers. Let’s not expect too little from our kids, and leave them only in the company of Peppa Pig. Let’s give them Jesus.

4. Books for Toddlers can Fire up Parents’ Faith

The gospel is pretty simple as well as mind-blowingly profound. It’s great to plumb its depths; it’s also wonderful to splash in the shallows. Sometimes, a very simple line that we read to a toddler can bring us up short with a refreshed appreciation of a simple truth. I died on the cross to forgive your sin, says Jesus. We never grow out of needing to hear that. We must never grow beyond being amazed by that. So read Christian books to your toddlers not only for their sake, but for yours!

Carl Laferton

Carl Laferton is EVP Publishing/Editorial Director at TGBC. He is the bestselling author of the kids' books The Garden, the Curtain and the Cross and The God Contest, and also serves as series editor of the God's Word For You series. Before joining TGBC, he worked as a journalist, a teacher, and pastored a congregation in Hull. Carl is married to Lizzie and they have two children, Benjamin and Abigail. He studied history at Oxford University.

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