USA (MNN) — Summertime for kids means visions of swimsuits and sunshine, melting popsicles and bonfires, and days off and relaxation. What they’re not thinking of? Schoolwork.
However, it’s important for schoolchildren to maintain skills like reading during the summer.
Cue Keys for Kids Ministries’ free summer reading program, “WORD with Zach”. This program not only gets kids excited about reading, but also grows their faith and gets them thinking about how Scripture applies to their lives.
“WORD with Zach” is available in written form and on the radio. Kids follow along with Keys for Kids’ character Zach as he shares a short daily devotional encouraging them to be in God’s Word.
Greg Yoder, executive director of Keys for Kids, says, “We’re hearing from kids,… ‘I don’t really even like to read or I don’t necessarily even do this very often, but I just got so used to doing it last summer, that now [I’m] doing it every day.’ It’s just become a habit for many of these kids.”
This is the second summer Keys for Kids has offered “WORD with Zach” since they were blown away by the response last year.
“We just didn’t know what to expect. We thought we’d have a couple hundred families sign up. Well, it turns out we had almost 2,500 families sign up last year and about 5,500 kids!” Yoder says.
Once again, this year exceeded expectations. There are now almost 8,000 kids reading “WORD with Zach” representing over 3,000 families in 37 countries.
Kids who are consistent in their “WORD with Zach” reading are rewarded for their success!
“If they read every day for the month of June, they’re going to get a prize. If they read throughout July, they’re going to get a prize. If they read [throughout] August, they’re going to get a prize. So [there are] potentially three prizes.”
Additionally, if a child completes all three months, they are entered in a drawing for a Kindle Fire. They can also earn a bonus prize by listening to Keys for Kids Radio for keywords. Click here for the Keys for Kids Radio program schedule.
We may be over halfway through June, but Yoder says it’s not too late to start “WORD with Zach”! Kids can go back and read past devotionals from the start of June to catch up and earn this month’s prize. Or, if they just want to do the daily devotions from today onward, they can still earn a prize for reading every day in July and August.
“We’re not trying to create rules that prevent people from participating, because the reality is we just want people to read their Bibles and read Keys for Kids.”
Parents can read or listen along with their kids, which prompts great family discussion about biblical truths.
“You can decide to have [your] kids do it on their own if they want — which really helps them in their personal walk with the Lord and the personal devotion time — or do it as a family. You can get questions answered and really help disciple your kids in their walk with the Lord.”
Yoder says “WORD with Zach” devotionals are having an eternal impact. “We’re hearing kids that are giving their heart to Christ. [They may be] growing up in a Christian family, for example, and thinking that they’re believers — but yet reading the stories, [they start] understanding, ‘Well, wait a minute, this isn’t about teaching morality. It’s an actual relationship with Jesus and having the Holy Spirit fill you in your life.’
“In fact, as moms and dads are reading through these with their kids — especially from non-Christian families — we’re even hearing about adults that are making decisions for Christ and we’re thrilled about that. So be praying about that.”
If you want to support your child’s walk with the Lord, you can sign up for “WORD with Zach” here!
“WORD with Zach” is a free program available to families, but it’s not free to produce. Yoder estimates it costs the ministry about $10 per kid. If you would like to support “WORD with Zach” so more kids can have their lives eternally changed, click here to give!
Finally, Yoder asks for your prayers. “We just want people to be praying for the young people that will be reading ‘WORD with Zach’ and their devotionals, because…the Holy Spirit can do a mighty work in the hearts and lives of kids and families.”
Header image courtesy of Keys for Kids Ministries.