Book review: Handbook offers helps and new tools for 'Teaching the Book of Mormon'

By Cecily Markland

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Sept. 7 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

TEACHING THE BOOK OF MORMON, Part One: 1 Nephi-Alma 16,” by John S. Bushman, Reed Romney, John R. Manis and Curt R. Wakefield, Cedar Fort, $24.99, 344 pages (nf)

“Teaching the Book of Mormon, Part One: 1 Nephi-Alma 16,” is designed to provide comprehensive, helpful resources for Latter-day Saint teachers — whether teaching in a church class or in the home.

“Teaching the Book of Mormon” is a compilation of ideas from four authors — John S. Bushman, Reed Romney, John R. Manis and Curt Wakefield — all instructors in the church’s seminary and institute program. The introduction says the book is designed “to help overcome obstacles inhibiting … teaching others the principles of the gospel.”

The authors encourage use of official curriculum of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the complete content of the Book of Mormon is included. From there, they offer a wealth of additional resource materials and lesson guides.

“A teacher may choose to utilize an entire lesson plan from this book or may simply glean questions, object lessons, or activities to enhance plus adapt church curriculum,” the authors write. They suggest that “ ‘Teaching the Book of Mormon’ may also be an excellent study aid for personal scripture study.”

Even a quick perusal shows a well-organized format, with the scriptural text alongside lesson notes. Life-changing principles are highlighted, and icons are used to identify specific types of lesson helps.

For example, a heart icon identifies “ideas that help plant the principles deep in class members’ hearts,” while a lightning bolt points to lesson-starter ideas. Other helps include suggestions for group work, writing exercises and more. Quotes from prophets or other church leaders are also included.

The questions are phrased to elicit personal responses and to foster application. For example, in the discussion about Jacob 3, which describes the “pure in heart,” the manual suggests asking students: “Why is it that receiving these blessings is contingent on the purity of our hearts and not outward circumstances?” Then, follow-up questions would be: “Which of these blessings would you most like to receive? Why?”

Taken together, the many resources in this book make it a unique and powerful tool.

With it, teachers can do more than simply share scripture stories, they can help their students understand and make these lessons a part of their own lives.

Cecily Markland is a freelance writer, book editor, publicist and author of "Hope: One Mile Ahead" and the children’s book "If I Made a Bug." She owns Inglestone Publishing and produces cecilymarkland.com, a calendar of LDS events in Arizona.

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