Last summer, I took my children to one of our public library’s special events. It was a storyteller. I didn’t think much of it, but thought it might be a fun thing for us to attend together. It turned out so much better than I had expected. He was great! He owned that room of teeny tots through parents. He was so engaging in his stories that you felt as though you were there.
Why can’t we do that with the Bible in our classes?
It almost seems as though we rush through the story so that we can get to the “good” and “fun” part of the class…the activity. We are doing a disservice to the children in our classes as well as to God’s Word. We are undermining the very reason we are teaching in the first place.
These “stories”, as we call them, are actual accounts that actually happened. Do our students get that? These things are not just fun little stories that don’t have to be remembered. They are actual events that regular people lived through.
I try to bring the art of storytelling into my classrooms. I like to read through the story directly from the Bible first and clarify any confusing parts. Then I put down my Bible, leaving it open for reference, and retell the account that we just read about. I make sure that I’m standing up and using as much expression as possible. I use facial expressions (when appropriate), hand gestures, and help from the kids, if necessary. I want them experience the “story” and not just listen to it. When they are a part of the account, they will remember it better. I know with my own children at home, when I just read them a story it’s a good time while we are going through it. But do they remember it? It depends on the story and how engaged and they were with and how much they were interested. But, when we discuss the story and talk about the feelings of the characters and make them put themselves into the shoes of the characters, they internalize the story and make it their own.
That’s what we want to do with the Bible accounts that we go through in class, isn’t it? I mean, that’s the point, right? We want them to internalize it. Psalm 119:11 says, “Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.” A great way to get the children in your class to treasure God’s Word is to give storytelling a try.
Make a big deal out of these amazing accounts. Help the children to understand these were real people, just like them. They had problems, they had triumphs, they had failures. Express that through storytelling. Act out the story…have them act out the story with you.
Tell the story, don’t just read it. There is a difference.