The importance of reading the word of God is something many Christian faiths will agree upon. It is through the scriptures that one can learn of Jesus Christ and find a way to attain eternal life (John 5:39).
Now try telling that to a 4-year-old. Your same conviction may be there, but it may not translate. Is there anything in the scriptures that kids can understand?
Reading the scriptures can be difficult and discouraging for families with young kids, but the messages found in the scriptures are relevant for all ages. Jan Pinborough, editor of The Friend magazine, explained that many scripture stories are interesting and exciting — the key is how the story is told.
"Scripture reading needs to happen in the home," Pinborough said. "But it needs to be adapted to the appropriate age."
The Friend magazine has incorporated scriptures throughout the magazine. Each article is based on a scripture, includes different stories about Jesus and a poster is found each month titled "Bright Ideas" that has an easy scripture for children to memorize.
Shannon Foster, a seminary teacher of 13 years and writer of The Red Headed Hostess blog, talked about when to start scripture reading with your children.
"It is never too early," Foster said. "I read to my daughter as she is falling asleep in her crib. There are age-appropriate activities and ideas for every child."
Foster has created several helps for others to study the scriptures and has listed them on her blog. In order for children to easily follow the different stories in the Book of Mormon, Foster created a guide that lists a one-sentence summary for each page in the Book of Mormon. A .pdf version can be found on her website under scripture study tips.
Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve also explained the importance of including small children when reading scriptures. He described a young family's experience:
"Two out of their four children are not old enough to read," he said in a general conference talk in April (“In Tune with the Music of Faith”). "For the 5-year-old, they have five finger signals to which he responds in order for him to participate fully in the family scripture reading. The signal for finger 1 is for him to repeat, 'And it came to pass' whenever it appears in the Book of Mormon."
In this month's issue of The Friend, Elder Kent F. Richards shared a similar experience his family had with reading the scriptures. Because the children were allowed to participate, Elder Richards explained things took a little longer: "It took us five years to read the Book of Mormon for the first time as a family, but we never quit."
It doesn't matter which way your children like to learn about the scriptures — find something that works and make it a habit, Pinborough said.
"It's by example that they will learn best. ... Parents need to model the process. They can't treat reading the scriptures like a reading assignment you have to get to."
Foster explained that if scripture study is viewed as something that is fun, children's attitudes about the scriptures will be positive.
"Helping our children see the scriptures as something that is fun and important in their lives, rather than a duty for grown-ups, is something that will take a lot of effort, thought, creativity and inspiration," Foster said. "But it is worth every second of time and energy, and they will thank you for generations to come."
President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, emphasized in an article in the July 2005 Ensign that the parents’ example is critical (“A Discussion of Scripture Study”).
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