The Importance of Teaching Kids About Bible Characters

Scholastic's latest "Kids and Family Reading Report" surveyed children ages six-to-17-years-old to find out what they wanted to learn from reading about characters.

The study revealed that 36% of kids want characters that are smart, brave and strong.

30% of those surveyed like characters who face and conquer challenges.

Just over 25% of kids look for characters that are similar to themselves.

40% of kids say they have learned a life lesson from either a fictional character or one based on a real person.

Parents also want more from characters in books.  Here are some of things that parents want their children to learn from characters.

50% say they want the characters their children read about to be brave, smart and strong.

47% say they want the characters in their children's stories to be smart, brave and strong.

37% want characters that will help children learn to understand people who are not like them.

29% want characters who are culturally and ethnically diverse.

27% want characters that are like their child.

24% want characters that will break stereotypes.

6% want characters that are LGBTQ.

32% are not concerned about the characters as long as the story is good.

95% of parents say they want characters that can help their children develop good character traits like honesty,  kindness, self-confidence, etc.

As we look at this data, it's encouraging to know that kids love to connect with and learn from characters, both fictional or nonfictional.

The good news is we have dozens of characters in the Bible that kids can learn from.  Here's a few examples.

David - courage

Moses - God can use anyone who is surrendered to Him

Mary, mother of Jesus - obedience to God's will

Esther - help others no matter the cost

Paul - be a bold witness for Jesus

Simeon - be faithful to God

Peter - get back up when you fail

Joseph - trusting God and His plan

Daniel -  endure peer pressure

Noah - obeying God no matter what

These are just a few of the Bible characters that kids can learn from if you will be intentional about sharing about their life.

As you teach about these and other Biblical characters, here is a few tips to keep in mind.
  • Explain that characters in the Bible are real people who actually lived.  It's important to help kids understand the difference between a made up character like Spiderman and a real character found in the Bible.  
  • Let kids know the characters in the Bible are not perfect.  Obviously be age-appropiate when sharing the stories of Bible characters.  But share with kids some of the ways these characters failed in their walk with God.  And then how they accepted Jesus's forgiveness and came back strong and ready to do God's work.
  • Show kids how God can use anyone if they will surrender to Him and make themselves available.  The best ability is availability.
  • Help kids learn from each character and apply it.  Ask kids what stood out to them about the character.  Then help them apply the teachings gleaned from it.
  • Dress up and act like you are one of the characters while teaching.  This will really bring the story to life.   An example would be Jonah.  Grab some seaweed or other stringy plants and wrap "Jonah" as you or share about him.

Your turn.  Do you teach kids about Bible Characters?  What approach do you take?  Any ideas or suggestions for teaching this?