When we were homeschooling, I learned a trick for teaching my daughters math. If they were struggling to solve a problem, I would wait until I was tempted to answer for them . . . and then I would slowly count to three. My daughters usually solved the problems during that window, when I was fighting the urge to say, “Thirteen! It’s thirteen!”
As it turns out, this is great advice for raising teens (and almost-teens), too. When my daughters are tackling something new, I hold back as long as I can and fight that mom urge to just do it for them. It’s not easy. Sometimes I have to do deep breathing. But those extra three seconds are often just enough time for my daughters to do the thing themselves and emerge victorious, with that sense of confidence because they figured it out on their own.
So it is with Bible study. We still read the Bible together as a family, but I’ve also been trying to nurture in our older girls a desire to study Scripture on their own. These habits aren’t easy to build, but this is another place where I find I need to hand them good tools, set up their workspace for success, and then step back and pray silently over them as they do the actual work on their own.
And so, here are a few resources our family has found helpful in different stages as this particular plane makes its way down the runway. (Has it fully lifted off yet for anybody? No. But it’s pulling away from the airport!) I’ve ordered this list to start with resources for the youngest readers before moving on to resources for teens.
A Full-Text Kids’ Bible
Of course, a full-text Bible for kids is a great place to start. There are lots of options out there, and the best ones feature a few tools that help kids connect with the text and understand what they’re reading. Some of our favorites over the years have been the ESV Seek-And-Find Bible, the ESV Big Picture Bible, and—most recently—the CSB One Big Story Bible.
These Bibles hit that sweet spot between story Bible and the Bible itself. Each volume features a paraphrased version of a book of the Bible, perfect for readers who are comfortable with chapter books but not quite ready to navigate Leviticus alone.
Exploring the Bible, by David Murray
This is a fabulous Bible study for kids that gives them a survey of the whole Bible, one short reading at a time. Our family did this together one year and found that it helped our daughters fit the individual stories of Scripture into the larger narrative of the whole Bible. Murray’s Meeting with Jesus is excellent too. (Read the full review.)
Best News Ever, by Chris Morphew
This Bible study takes middle school readers through the book of Mark with short readings and deep questions. (Read the full review.)
Draw Near, by Sophie Killingsley
Draw Near is a sort of pre-made bullet journal, with cleverly illustrated habit trackers and study guides that help readers young and old make Scripture reading and prayer a daily part of their lives. (Read the full review.)
Head Heart Hands, by Linda Allcock
This trio of Bible studies takes teen girls through the gospel of Matthew, inviting them to answer thoughtful questions and take what they learn about Jesus to heart.
Teen Study Bibles
We haven’t dug into many of these yet, but I have long been a fan of the ESV Journaling Bible, which allows readers to process their reading with a pen in hand (this is how I do my best thinking). Our eldest daughter uses the NIV Bible for Teen Girls, which contains devotional readings on a wide range of topics (including sex, so give this one a pre-read). The ESV Student Study Bible is excellent too, and I’ve heard great things about the CSB Seven Arrows Bible.