Maybe eight or nine years ago my Grandmother, who has a very deep love for the Book of Mormon, challenged her children and grandchildren to read the Book of Mormon again as a family. I had one reader and one non-reader at the time and thought, ugh, the stories of the BOM don’t always make sense to me, how on earth can I read this to my children and have them get anything out of it??
I have a deep love and respect for my grandmother and I just could not ignore her challenge. My husband suggested we start reading together before we put the children to bed. That lasted maybe a week before we switched to reading in the mornings. By the time bedtime rolls around I am so ready for everyone to GO TO BED AND LEAVE ME ALONE, that I really struggled with putting on a good face and reading the word of God to my kids.
We started reading two, maybe three verses every morning before the kids went to school. I would read the verses to them and then we’d talk about what we read, I would try to summarize it in a language that they would understand. I’d relate the wars to the people of Tempe feeling like they didn’t have enough land, so they started a war with Chandler to take over some of their land- anything to help bring understanding to my kids.
Our reading has evolved over the years, I think it took us something like five or six years to finish the book as a family, and then we started over again. These days, with three kids and only one sort-of not quite a reader yet, our mornings look something like this:
6:45 am my alarm goes off, I literally drag myself from slumber and shuffle down the hall to open the doors to my children’s rooms where I mumble something like “Rise and Shine” but more like “get up”. I usually have to sit down in the girls rooms and rub their cheeks to get them to wake up and then we all shuffle to the living room. My daughters take up the couch, my son is buried in a blanket on a chair, while my husband and I take the two remaining chairs.
My husband who is infinitely more alert in the mornings than I am, opens his scriptures and reminds all of us what page/verse we are on. This is the moment where it dawns on my kids that they need to have their scriptures with them- so then there is a slow stumble to the book shelf to collect the books. Then my patient husband has to tell us all again about ten times what page/verse to turn to.
We each take turns reading a few verses of an entire page. My husband, the alert one, will sometimes ask questions to see if the children understood what they read (um, we didn’t even try asking during the Isiah chapters of 2 Nephi).
Then, in theory, we all kneel together around the coffee table for family prayer. What it really looks like is my husband kneeling at the coffee table with one daughter perched on his back (as if he were giving her a horse back ride), my son, still covered in a blanket kneeling at the chair, the other daughter curled up next to me, while I get as close to the floor as I can without actually looking like I am laying on the floor- and then we pray.
Its a whole lot of effort- especially for someone like me who is not a morning person, but I know that it makes a difference in our daily lives. It helps my children think beyond themselves, it helps them to put their problems into perspective, and I know when we invite God into our home we are kinder to one another.
King Benjamin (in the book of Mosiah) had three sons Mosiah, Helorum and Helaman, whom he taught the language of their fathers- which was Egyptian. He wanted his children to know Egyptian so they could read the records of their people-which were the plates passed down from Lehi. If they couldn’t read and understand Egyptian they wouldn’t be able to (as Mormon writes) ” read and understand His (God’s) mysteries, and always have his commandments before our eyes”. Benjamin didn’t want his sons to grow up and raise their children in unbelief, he wanted a faithful posterity. I have the same hope for my posterity, and I know if I don’t teach my children to understand the language of the BOM (and the Bible) then they will not be able to understand the mysteries of God.