Children's Interest In The Bible
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
CHILDREN up to eight or nine years are more interested in the portions of the New Testament which give accounts of the birth and childhood of Jesus. They enjoy also Old Testament stories relating to the childhood or youth of characters like Moses, Samuel, Joseph, and David. This suggests that children of this age should be given instruction in the Bible from the viewpoint of the childhood of the Bible, beginning with Jesus and using the others for purposes of comparative study. . Around this as a nucleus could be grouped material derived from studies in nature, art, industries, and other departments of human life, so presented as to give the children a religious outlook upon their environment.
From nine to thirteen or fourteen years children are more interested in the Old Testament. This interest shows itself in a fondness for the historical, literary, and prophetic books, and the heroic and dramatic elements generally. Religious instruction during this period should occupy itself with the history, geography, literature, prophecy, and general moral and religious content of the first division of the Bible. It would coincide with the grades of public school work above the primary and below the high school, in that it would deal essentially with fact-studies. The order of material would be : (1) history and geography, (2) literature, and (3) prophecy. The moral and religious elements would be involved throughout. Much might profitably be made of the manners and customs and the social life, especially as reflected in the industries, religions and political ceremonials, and feats of arms. Sacred art might be brought into requisition to aid in the study of characters and customs. This is the period for memorizing selected passages of Scripture..
Children in the adolescent period show interest in the New Testament, especially in the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. They show special interest in Jesus and the principal disciples. This suggests that the material of instruction for adolescence should be derived largely from the New Testament. It would center in Jesus and his teachings, the principal disciples being studied incidentally. The study of types of character and the development of Christian thought and institutions might be extended to the later history of Christianity. Side-lights of history, literature, art and science could be utilized in revealing the ideals of Christian manhood and Christian society.
At all ages children feel more interest in persons than in any other elements of the Bible. Even Bible scenes and stories appeal to them mainly through the man, woman, or child that is the center of the scene or the principal actor in the story. This suggests that the Bible should be given to Raising Children, of all ages, through its personal element. Thus the Bible should be given to the young child mainly through the child Jesus. It should be given to children from eight or nine years, on to thirteen or fourteen, through the heroes of the Old Testament. These may be selected with reference to their importance for history or prophecy, or with reference to their moral and religious example. When such a selection of heroes has been made, their characters, deeds and sayings may become the media through which the children shall be taught Hebrew history and geography, moral and religious principles, and anything else that the Old Testament can supply for purposes of instruction. Finally, the Bible should be given to adolescents through Jesus as an adult, and incidentally through the Disciples and Apostles who have interpreted his character and teachings.