To develop a biblical worldview, we need to saturate our minds in Scripture. This requires repeatedly reading and engaging with the Bible throughout our lifetime. The earlier we begin reading the Bible the more time we have for God’s Word to seep into the marrow of our souls. That’s why helping a child to develop the habit of Bible reading is one of the greatest gifts we can give them.
Numerous Bible reading plans are available that can help older children read through Scripture in a year. But as many adults who have tried such plans on New Year’s Day can attest, they are difficult to follow consistently and are usually abandoned by Valentine’s Day. We miss a few days, try to catch up, and eventually give up out of frustration.
Here’s a simpler, three-step approach that is ideal for helping children read large sections of the Bible.
Step #1 — The Chart
Take a two-sided sheet of paper or poster board and in the top corner of one side write “Old Testament” and on the opposite side write “New Testament.” Write out each book and the corresponding numbers of chapters for that book (see below for the numbers). For example, since Genesis contains 50 chapters, beside the word “Genesis” you’ll find “1 2 3 4 5 . . . 50.”[i] You can also download a copy of a reading chart here.
Step #2 – The Pattern
Read one chapter a day in the following pattern (the number of chapters are in parentheses):[ii]
Sunday: Poetry [Psalms (150); Proverbs (31); Ecclesiastes (12); Song of Solomon (8)]
Monday: Pentateuch (Genesis (50); Exodus (40); Leviticus (27); Numbers (36); Deuteronomy (34))
Tuesday: Old Testament History (Joshua (24); Judges (21); Ruth (4); 1 Samuel (31); 2 Samuel (24); 1 Kings (22); 2 Kings (25))
Wednesday: Old Testament History (1 Chronicles (29); 2 Chronicles (36); Ezra (10); Nehemiah (13); Esther (10); Job (42))
Thursday: Old Testament prophets [Isaiah (66); Jeremiah (52); Lamentations (5); Ezekiel (48); Daniel (12); Hosea (14); Joel (3); Amos (9); Obadiah (1); Jonah (4); Micah (7); Nahum (3); Habakkuk (4); Zephaniah (3); Haggai (2); Zechariah (14); Malachi (4)]
Friday: Gospels and New Testament history [Matthew (28); Mark (16); Luke (24); John (21); Acts (28)]
Saturday: New Testament letters [Romans (16); 1 Corinthians (16); 2 Corinthians (13); Galatians (6); Ephesians (6); Philippians (4); Colossians (4); 1 Thessalonians (5); 2 Thessalonians (3); 1 Timothy (6); 2 Timothy (4); Titus (3); Philemon (1); Hebrew (13); James (5); 1 Peter (5); 2 Peter (3); 1 John (5); 2 John (1); 3 John (1); Jude (1); Revelation (22)]
You may want to modify this plan for younger children, leaving out some sections (such as the Old Testament prophets) until they are older.
Step #3 – The Checkmark
After the child reads each chapter, have them check it off on their paper/poster. When they complete an entire book, highlight it so it stands out on the page. Marking off the chapters will give them a sense of accomplishment.
And that’s the plan—it’s that simple.
The Key to Success
The key to success is flexibility. If the child misses a day, just have them move on to the next section. If it takes longer than a year, don’t sweat it—there’s no rush. Be persistent but easy-going, encouraging rather than demanding. The goal is develop in your child the habit of wanting to read the Bible. Even if the child isn’t able to complete the entire reading program in a year (or two), if they follow the plan regularly they’ll have read large sections of Scripture and laid a solid foundation for future engagement with God’s Word.
[i] This step is adapted from Don Whitney’s “Bible Reading Record.”
[ii] This step is adapted from “The Bible Reading Plan for Shirkers and Slackers.”
This article is based on an excerpt from Joe Carter’s new book, The Life and Faith Field Guide for Parents: Help Your Kids Learn Practical Life Skills, Develop Essential Faith Habits, and Embrace a Biblical Worldview (Havest House).