Using the Psalms with Kids

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The Calvin Symposium of Worship’s theme this January is the Psalms. Why should we worry about teaching kids and teens the Psalms? They already know Psalm 23. We sing songs based on the Psalms like “Create in Me a Clean Heart”. Besides, kids like stories. Kids need stories.

Yes, kids and stories are important. Kids need to know the stories of God’s people. But kids also need to know that God’s people experienced life just like you and me. They were sad, anxious, lonely, depressed, joyful, happy, and celebrative. All these emotions are in Psalms.

The Psalms also show us how to talk to God. Psalms give us permission as well as the words to express our feelings to God. We can come to God when we are happy and excited and when we are depressed, lonely, anxious or sad. Psalms tells us that God will take us as we are; sinful, mixed up, people.

Learning about Psalms is also important for kids and teens being raised in a postmodern culture, a culture where sometimes facts take a back seat to feelings. Much of teenage life is about how they feel. It wasn’t so different for adults like me, who grew up in a more modern era (as opposed to postmodern) but these kids don’t have the same cultural safety net that we might have had. Our kids and teens need to know that they can bring their emotions and their responses to God in an appropriate way. Look at Psalms. Check out Psalm 13.

Sometimes, in our effort to be good Christians, we give the impression that God only wants us to come to him when we dressed nicely and looking good…like when we attend worship. But our God knows what we are like. We see that in many places in scripture but especially in the Psalms.

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Community Builder

Laura, I agree Psalms are wonderful for kids as well as us "grown-ups." I wonder if you have any resources you can recommend to use with kids? Our small group is using Eugene Peterson's Psalms, Prayers of the Heart. It's excellent and could be used by young adults. But maybe you or others know of materials for using the Psalms with younger children?

Community Builder

Hi Marvis,  I am not aware of many resources.  My husband Bob and I are working on this for a project.  Eerdman's has a great picture book called Psalms for Young Children by Marie Helene Deval.  Here is also a list of other Psalms picture books from the Calvin Institure of Christian Worship web site.  Maybe other people have suggestions I'm not aware of..  

Admin

We also use Psalms for Young Children with our three little ones and it's great. The kids browse through and each pick a Psalm to read (usually based on how the artwork fits their mood that day - which is itself illuminating). I've even used it for council meeting devotions - just for something less wordy and more visually rich. It's beautiful and helps the Psalms come alive in a new way.