We have a bedtime routine in our home that involves reading (several) books, singing some songs and praying before it’s time to lay down and (hopefully!) go to sleep.
But you know what I’d been missing in that routine?
The golden opportunity to walk through Scripture and commit it to memory.
We usually read individually from an age-appropriate Bible storybook or devotional and often do our family Bible time in the evenings too. And we do lots of memory work for Sunday school and just in general, so I pretty much thought I had it covered.
Plus, maybe our children can’t absorb anything else at night because they’re so tired–right? I was wrong!
I did a little research into what makes a good bedtime routine (for my kids and myself) and learned some fascinating things in particular about reading before bed!
5 Amazing Things That Happen When You Read to Your Child Right Before Bed
1) They will sleep better because reading helps a child wind down better than TV (which you probably knew!)
2) Their stress level reduces by as much as 60 percent (wow!) because your body is focused on what you’re reading/hearing rather than other stressors (and we all know our children sometimes struggle with anxious thoughts!)
3) Words, especially poetry (like the book of Psalms), boosts memory, because it links to the right half of the brain, which regulates emotion.
4) Sleep forms new connections, and the things read right before bed will be retained significantly better than things read earlier in the day
5) Your child’s dreams will likely be sweeter, because they are often influenced by what we’ve most recently thought, talked or read about.
So I decided to incorporate some psalms with our bedtime routine, and the kids have really enjoyed it so far!
It’s been a good motivator to spend just a few minutes with each of our four kids by themselves….I feel like they learn and listen better that way at the end of the day, rather than trying to do this all in a group.
You can do this too!
Reading and teaching our children Bible verses, even at night, will stick with them for a lifetime.
Here are some ideas for you to get started reading the psalms with your kids at bedtime (or any time!), including specific psalms, their meanings, and how to learn them together based on the age of your children.
I hope this can help you in your bedtime routine with your children too!
9 Psalms to Read with Your Kids at Bedtime
“I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you O Lord make me dwell in safety.”
This is a favorite of our kids and we say it together every night, when our youngest was two she had this verse memorized! If you want, you can expand on it for older kids with verses 4-8: “Be angry and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord. There are many who say, ‘Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!’ You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”
This is a short psalm that is easy to memorize and is a reminder for our children how God is always watching over them and that He does not sleep or lose sight of us. It’s an encouragement for when we feel alone or worried.
“He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.” (vs. 3-4)
I honestly don’t recall having heard this verse before a couple of years ago when I found it in one of my daughter’s bedtime books. I think it’s a great psalm for nighttime because we can look at the stars with our kids and remind them of God’s personal involvement in creating them and the entire world.
“He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.”
A simple paraphrase of this verse says “God counts the stars and names each one.”
If you want, you can have your children learn more of Psalm 147, the words are wonderful for declaring the power of God.
This psalm is about the omniscience of God, meaning that he is all-knowing. For believers, this is a comfort! And so my husband and I like sharing these words with my children because it reflects the truth that God is taking care of them and knows all about them.
I like the way the NLT has verses 3-5: “You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.”
At nighttime, those verses are perfect for memorizing. Try working on the whole psalm with your family!
As a grown woman, I’ve come to the painful realization that life is hard. It’s not always easy to believe the promises of Scripture when you are going through an extremely difficult time, but in the end, the truth about God that I learn from the Bible is what I cling to. I wish I had memorized more verses as a child, even when my worries were really small compared to what I go through now.
Because of that, I strongly believe that teaching our kids what Scripture tells us about God as they grow up (even when they are very little!) is going to continually be to their benefit! The whole Psalm 42 is great to read and learn with older kids, but for younger children, this is a good verse to use at bedtime:
“The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; and His song will be with me in the night, a prayer to the God of my life.” Psalm 42:8
This psalm of protection has been so helpful for my 5-year-old, who struggles with being scared at night.
“For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” Psalm 91:11
Sometimes at night, it’s hard to fall asleep. My mind is full of everything but peace and calm. My children, especially my 8 and 11-year-old, struggle to go to sleep some night as well. What a blessing it would be if we could fall asleep thinking about the Lord instead of our troubles (or our to-do list!)
“Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches. Because You have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.” Psalm 63:6-7
Here are a couple more psalms that are perfect for bedtime:
Psalm 3:3-5 – “But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the One who lifts my head. I was crying to the Lord with my voice, and He answered me from His holy mountain. I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustains me.” NASB
Psalm 130: 5-7 – “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than the watchmen wait for morning, more than the watchmen wait for morning. O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord, there is steadfast love, and with Him is plentiful redemption.” ESV
——-> CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A PRINTABLE WITH THE REFERENCES FOR THESE VERSES, SO YOU CAN REFERENCE THEM AT A GLANCE WHEN YOU READ THEM WITH YOUR KIDS!
Ideas for Helping Your Kids Memorize the Psalms at Bedtime
- For young children, have them repeat very short phrases from the psalm verse or verses back to you. You can also put them to a song. For instance, Psalm 4:8 can be found on Steve Green’s Hide Em in Your Heart, Volume 2, along with many other Scripture memory songs! Pretty soon, they will know how to say the verse all by themselves!
- As your children get older, they can repeat longer phrases of the psalm with you or journal the words. My 8-year-old likes to write down the verse she is learning and then add colorful pictures or colors in the letters. My 11-year-old is not into art ;) so he would rather just say the verse out loud back to me a few times and then we say it together at night after he learns it. (Side thought: Here’s a Scripture coloring and activity book that our kids love!!)
- Print out some of the verses you are learning and hang them in your child’s room! This is a very visual way to be reminded of the verses and you can easily switch them out. They weren’t all psalms, but this is what we did in our son’s room when he was younger:
Want a simple resource to teach your children a variety of Bible verses in fun and engaging ways, in just 10 minutes each day?
Check out my printable Scripture memory program, God’s Word in My Heart!
Available in four translations (KJV, ESV, NASB and Variety) for only $4.99, this resource will help you:
- Teach your children A-Z Scriptures
- Teach Bible verses about sin and salvation to help lead them to Jesus
- Implement our list of fun ideas for learning and memorizing Scripture for toddlers on up to upper elementary!
- Have the flexibility to learn the Bible together as a family, even with multiple age kids!
- Find specific songs to pair with the Bible verses your kids are learning (singing helps greatly with memorization)
Yes! I want to help my kids learn God’s Word!
I hope this post has been helpful for you!