December 31st, 2016, at around 10pm our family finished reading the Book of Mormon for the third year in a row. Four years ago I wouldn't have thought it possible.
We had been reading a few verses a night to the children for years, but had never made it even halfway into the book. I was talking with my mom one day and she pointed out that all four of my children could read, and that it might be time to change how we were doing family scriptures.
It was almost the New Year (2014), so we planned to delay our start until then, with the goal of reading a chapter a day until we finished the book. Our first year we finished in late October, then started over again in January each year since.
With a little trial and error, we decided it works best for us when we start 1 Nephi chapter 1 on January 1. This does skip over the title page and various testimonies, but it makes it easier to build the every day habit, as the chapter we are on corresponds with the day of the month for the first three weeks of reading. By then it's a habit, and success encourages more success, so we can complete 2 Nephi chapter 9 on the last day of January.
Five Ways to Read Scriptures as a Family
- In a circle. One verse per person at a time, passing to the next person after one verse, going around in a circle as many times as it takes to get through the chapter. This can happen at the dinner table, sitting in the living room, or kneeling around the parents' bed.
- Divide and Conquer. Divide the number of verses (or columns) by the number of readers. Each person reads their set amount before passing off to the next person. Sometimes we divide unevenly, so the youngest reader gets the shortest set, and the parents each read the most. One way to do that is to count the adults as two people before you divide. For example, if there are 2 children and 2 adults to read 24 verses, you would divide 24 by six. Each child would read 4 verses, and each adult would read that amount twice (8 verses each). Also, if you divide and there is a remainder, the adults or stronger readers can read that portion as well.
- Lights out. If a busy evening brings lights out before the whole family is home and ready, we might have one adult read aloud in the hallway while the children stay in bed.
- Audio. We play this through the LDS Gospel Library app on our phones or tablet. The audio doesn't download to your device when you download the text, so this will use cell data if you're away from wifi. We sometimes use audio in the car when we are driving home late from an activity or at home after lights out. It has been a lifesaver on tired nights when no one is up to reading that chapter.
- From the TV. My husband air played the scriptures on his cell phone to our big tv. Everyone was able to read their assigned verses from there. This is great for the novelty of it, but it also keeps everyone on the same page. Depending on the tv size, this might help emerging readers follow along better.
Our family isn't perfect. Any of our neighbors or acquaintances can tell you that. Our scripture study isn't perfect either. Sometimes a child wanders off in the middle of it. Other times people are talking over and around the reader. Yet there are those shining moments when they exclaim, "I know this story! Isn't this the one where . . . " or when something catches their attention and they make an informed observation or even question. Those shining moments are what we are working for--the hope that somewhere along the way, even if we our way is bumpy and covered with weeds, the children are building strong testimonies they will need to become the strong leaders God sent them here to be.
If we can do it, you can too.