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.