The Old Testament contains 39 books from Genesis to Malachi. Churches and Sunday schools across the country employ creative methods from memory games to songs to help children and adults learn the names of these books as part of their Christian education.
Songs are a popular way to remember lists of items, including Bible books. The “Bible Rap” is a popular one. Using different, otherwise familiar children’s tunes like “Ten Little Indians” or “Turkey in the Straw” with the books of the Bible names worked into the melodies is a useful and fun technique to remember the titles in order.
Write a list of the book names in order. Read through the list out loud. Then, on a new sheet, using your written list as a guide, write only the first letter of each book in order in a column. This is a prompt to help you remember the names. Read the full names list aloud on more time. Now cover up the full list and see how many names you can fill in on your first-letter page. Compare your answers with the full list and repeat the process until you can list all 39 books.
Break the 39 books into five categories and concentrate on memorizing one category at a time. This actually follows the books in order starting with the five books of Moses, then 12 historical books, five poetry books, five major prophets and 12 minor prophets. Learning more information about the books, including similarities like their category groupings triggers our mind by connecting related items.
Using a tool like a Bible book cube or index cards with the categories list helps you focus on just one section at a time. Learn the categories out of order and then practice putting the list back together in order by adding one category at a time, repeating the previous categories each time as well.
Group Interactive Games
Try a round robin verbal game that starts with everyone sitting in a circle with their Bibles open to the index list. One by one, take turns reading the names of the Old Testament books in order. Read through the entire list two or three times. Then have people close their Bibles and see how far down the list the group can get by memory. If one person can’t remember the next book in order, he can ask for a “hint” (give the first letter), “look” or “pass” to the next person.
Use flash cards, Books of the Bible bingo, singing song versions together and out loud practice to help nail down the items our memories are taking in. These double practices reinforce our cognitive learning by visual and aural means. Seeing and hearing the names along with reading them silently actually can cause us to learn the list more effectively and remember it almost permanently.