How King James Can Boost Your Student’s Reading Skills

As your students move toward the high school years, reading skills become increasingly important. Not only does your student need to boost vocabulary in preparation for the SAT or ACT, he or she needs to be able to read and comprehend the kind of literature that is taught in high school and college.

Based upon my own experience in many literature classes and test-taking situations, the single most helpful thing your student can read to build understanding of vocabulary, syntax, and literary context is the King James Bible. I grew up on it, and the rhythm and cadence of King James English permeated my thoughts and literary imagination from very early in life.

This doesn’t mean that I think in thee’s and thou’s, or use words like “verily” or “thence.” It means that when I encounter King James English in a Shakespearean play or Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” it seems both clear and familiar, making it much easier to focus on the story or on literary analysis. It means that when I encounter references to Jonah, a lion’s den, or a “Gadarene rush” in a newspaper editorial, I can easily identify the allusion and understand the point of the argument.

How and when is the best time to introduce your children to the King James Bible? We started very early with our family, just as our parents had started with us. We read stories, and sometimes the boys would act them out, or illustrate them. This helps them to internalize the story, especially when they memorize portions to share with others.

During the years when they were learning to read and write, we used a more current translation for reading practice and copywork, so that they would learn current punctuation and spelling conventions, but we kept reading from the KJV for many years. I know that it was a big help to me in college-level literature courses, and I believe it’s been a big help to the boys as well.

The KJV is unique among books. It can transform hearts, as well as reading skills, and that can’t be said of very many books. I recommend it as an indispensible part of both life and school.

6 Responses

  1. Debbie says:

    I could not agree more. I started homeschooling two years ago and we read directly from the King James Version together. Some have told me that they do not want to read from the KJV to their younger children because they will not understand it. I told them that when we learn anything, it seems foreign to us at first, but as we continue to use the new information, it becomes so much clearer. It is the same for the KJV. One great item that we must not forget is that the Lord gives us the knowledge we need if we ask. He’s promised us that.

  2. Gerald (Jerry) Landis says:

    There are “church wars” on which local assembly
    is the best or most Scriptural! There are “Bible
    wars” on which translation is the best.

    I learned to read using the King James when my
    father and mother used it in family prayer and
    Bible readings.

    Certainly it is an excellent translation and a
    good standard and I believe we should use it
    as much as possible.

    Haaving a multitude of translations in a local
    church or Bible study group can cause confusion.

    Yet, I willnot choose to war with another brother
    who chooses to use another translation.

    Blessings .. when we get to heaven some of
    our little wars and battles as to what is right
    and wrong will soon be forgotten when we are at the that special place with our Lord Jesus Christ.

    • You are right — there is no theological reason to divide from others over translation. I recommend the KJV for literary value and beauty, but use other translations, too. Thank you for the comment!

  3. Jena says:

    When I got to college literature classes, I had a definite advantage over my classmates because I’d been reading the KJV for about 5 years (because I didn’t know there were any other translations out there!). I breezed through all the “difficult” language of the 16th and 17th Centuries because I was used to it.

    I’m glad I found your blog. I’m homeschooling high schoolers too. I’ll have to spend some time going over your archives. And thanks for installing my Daily Quote Widget.

  4. Tom Smedley says:

    All of our children were put to bed listening to an Alexander Scourby narration of the KJV. By the time they were six, they were assembling sentences rich in grammar, and elaborate in syntax. In casual conversation.

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