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Top 5 Tips for Lenten Reading With Your Children

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For children, Lenten discipline is often confined to giving something up, such as candy or TV. But Lent should be a time for developing good spiritual habits as well.

One of the best spiritual habits is reading the Bible every day. Spiritual Reading for Lent provides an easy way to do this, using scriptural readings that the Church has chosen for us.

Reading these selections as a family takes a little planning, but it is well worth the effort, because it helps our children (and us!) develop a familiarity with Scripture and come to a deeper understanding of Lent. Here are a few tips to make the process easier.

1. Choose the Right Bible

Choose a translation of the Bible that's age-appropriate for your children. It doesn't need to be "dumbed-down"; but younger children might be more comfortable with the language of a modern Catholic translation, such as the New American Bible, than with an older one with more elevated language, such as the King James Version or the Douay-Rheims (which is the version used in Spiritual Reading for Lent).

2. Be Consistent

Try to do the readings at the same time every day. They won't take long—the longest will take three or four minutes. Reading them at the dinner table each night, right after Grace After Meals, works very well.

3. Recap the Action

Remind your children of "the story so far." The first four weeks of Lent are the story of God delivering Israel out of Egypt and Israel's exodus to the Promised Land. Take 30 seconds to recap the story before reading each day's selection.

4. Draw Out the Themes

After the reading, briefly discuss it so that your children can understand that the story isn't just an historical one, but a spiritual one as well. The reflections offered in Spiritual Reading for Lent will give you ideas for each daily reading, but there are some overarching themes to keep in mind: Israel of the Old Testament is the model of the Church of the New Testament; Egypt represents the darkness of sin, and the Israelites' slavery is our slavery to sin; the Promised Land is Heaven; the Exodus represents our struggle to free ourselves from sin so that we may enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

5. Make Time for Questions and Answers

Ask your children a few questions about the details of the readings. Make this quizzing fun, and they will be eager to try to answer your questions. That means that they will remember the readings long after Lent has ended. And make sure to ask them if they have any questions for you, too.

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