passive scripture memory with little ones

If you want evidence that children have better memories than adults, try learning a second language when you're in your mid-twenties. Then watch carefully as your four year old is immersed in the same language you've been toiling away at learning, and is bilingual within a matter of months. This is the truth and the tragedy that youth is wasted on the young. What I wouldn't give to absorb information like my sponge-like children! How I wish I could have learned French as a young child and not now, as a preoccupied, flustered mom of three in her almost-30s.

Recently I was talking with a friend about different ways we're shepherding our children to know and love Christ. She shared about how they are doing large pieces of scripture memory, because why not? Their brains are like sponges right now, so lets fill them with God's word! It was so simple and true and convicting. My kids (ages 4 and 3, the 1 year old isn't memorizing anything yet!) have memorized the entire Madeline book, word for word. But we had only done a handful of short Bible verses up until that point. We decided to give it a try.

We starting making passive scripture memory a priority with our kids, daily. I say passive, because it wasn't about quizzing them or prompting them or putting them on the spot. I simply read the same portion of scripture to them every night and they listened, like they would to a book. After a few weeks, they started joining in as I was reading, and after a few months they had memorized big chunks of God's word!

It's lead so such rich discussions, too. We carefully chose chapters and verses that encompassed the gospel in detail and that highlighted different facets of the gospel message. Right now we're memorizing 1 Peter 1:3-9 and right away the kids needed clarification. What's a living hope? What does it mean for hope to be imperishable? We can help them understand these concepts in kid lingo, but it's important to us that they memorize the verses as they're written. After all, we already have a lot of Christian resources aimed at helping children understand the faith, but what we were lacking was a true understanding and knowledge of God's word with our little ones.

And hello, it's been amazing for ME. I used to be really into scripture memory, but in recent years it has become less and less of a priority. This project with the kids has been incredible because we are all memorizing scripture and as such we're talking about God's word more. It's on our lips, it's on our hearts, it's on our minds.

I shouldn't be surprised that my kids can memorize these large pieces of scripture, because they have no trouble memorizing songs and books, but yet it always blows my mind hearing them recite and find joy in the Bible.

Here's what we've been working on for the last couple months:

Romans 5:1-11
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

1 Peter 1:3-9Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Amazing, right? With so much clamoring for our children's attention, it's easy to think that scripture knowledge and memory are too much for them, but it's not! Little ones are so capable, in fact, more capable than adults, at memorizing. We have dabbled in catechism questions with the kids, but it always felt a little forced and difficult. But reading straight from the Bible has become a beautiful tradition, and as a result our kid's have memorized rich and delightful pieces of God's word. 


  1. Anonymous16.7.15

    Thank you so much for this! You mentioned that you were working on Scripture memorization with them in an earlier post and I wanted to ask you specifically about what you were doing. I was envisioning something going on at the dinner table, which is always a mess in our home. Anyway, this is great! We read from The Jesus Storybook Bible every night, but we want them to *know* the Word, too. Adding-on the reading of Scripture like this is perfect. Thank you, again! Really appreciate this!


    1. I love the Jesus Storybook Bible! but yes, it's just a tool, not the Bible itself, right? You are so encouraging, thank you for sharing! xo

  2. Thank you for sharing this! Scripture memory with my daughter has been on my heart recently and it's so true- these little ones can memorize so much more than we realize.

  3. Anonymous16.7.15

    We did this when our kids were young too, Em! It's such a gift you're giving them. My favourite was when they would rattle off the passage, "when I was a child I would speak like a child..." I would giggle every time!

    1. hilarious! how did you chose what verses to memorize?