About nine months ago I started reading the Book of Mormon to my young boys, then three and five years old. I wasn’t sure if it would last, but it has. We just finished the Book of Mormon and are about to start on the New Testament.
Here are some things I learned.
1)They actually look forward to scripture study time. Not every day, but when I say it is time to read the Book of Mormon, they come running. Our 18-month-old hops in my lap and says, “Jesus!”
2)The 18-month-old can only sit there for about five seconds before he then runs away to tackle the cat.
3)I place the other boys, now four and six, sit on either side of me. They must put away all toys, games, etc. The TV must be off. They must pretend to listen. They pretend to listen very well for about five seconds.
4)Sometimes it helps if you punctuate different points with tickles and primary songs. “Follow the prophet” (tickle), “follow the prophet” (tickle), “don’t go astray” (hold down and tickle).
5)My oldest boy couldn’t read when we started and now he recognizes many of the smaller words. He can read a few sentences now.
6)Summarizing some chapters is your best bet. The olive tree chapter is simply too much for young kids. Isaiah is lost on them, although I will read a few verses aloud so they hear the poetry of the language.
7)We had a lot of fun with the battle scenes, taking out fake swords and shields. That really helped with the “armor of God” motif. I explained what a “buckler” was. I would play the “Living Scriptures” movies that were appropriate for the story they were reading about.
8)Reading the Book of Mormon is kind of like “a vocabulary word a day” for young kids. “Contention,” “iniquity,” “abomination” — these are words they are not likely to hear anyplace else. I avoided the word “whore,” which I will have to save for when they are older.
9)I discussed repentance with them about 100 times. They really liked the phrase “broken heart and contrite spirit,” although I can’t promise that they remember what “contrite” means.
10)Reading the scriptures brings a beautiful spirit to the home. I have noticed that we all get along much better, not that we didn’t get along before, but now it is even better. The boys love to hug me after we read the scriptures and pray. My wife and I are having a love-fest (that is NOT TMI — we are having a scripture love-fest!). If you haven’t started reading the scriptures to your young kids, I really recommend it.