Title: The Book Of Mormon Family Reader
Editor: Tyler McKellar
Illustrator: Dan Burr
Publisher: Deseret Book
Year Published: 2017
Number of Pages: 304
Reviewed by Trudy Thompson for the Association for Mormon Letters
For nearly twelve years now, my husband and I have traveled often to visit our son, who was active duty military, and his family. Because of the distances involved in this travel, sometimes we stayed for an extended period of time.
It was during these stays that we observed our son and daughter-in-law faithfully reading a chapter of the Book of Mormon to their four children every night at bedtime. It was while visiting them earlier this year that I found myself amused watching our two year old grandson during this nightly ritual.
To say he was attentive and reverent would be a huge stretch. Little Alex would often jump, or dive head first, from a large recliner to a large ottoman nearby. Other times he would crawl upon the backs or necks of the other family members, or play loudly with toys, then laugh at himself. Needless to say, the other three children, and some of the rest of us, were easily distracted by this behavior.
Mr. McKellar has come up with a brilliant solution to this problem. His stated intent for this work is an effort to “help families spend what limited study time they have on the Book of Mormon’s most essential passages.”
The author has divided the content of the Book of Mormon into 245 sections. Each section contains the following: a title that identifies who is speaking or writing, and the doctrine or event being discussed. Next is an introduction, where the author condenses what he believes to be “non doctrinal” subjects into brief summaries. This is followed by selected scriptural verses from the Book of Mormon presented verbatim, in sequential order, and in standard scripture column format. Lastly, there are a few follow-up questions that give an opportunity to discuss the teachings and doctrines of the specific section, offering opportunities for personal contemplation.
When I read that Mr.McKellar had briefly summarized content of the Book of Mormon that he considered “non-doctrinal” such as travel, war and politics, I was troubled. How are these subjects not doctrinal? How many times has the Lord commanded His people to travel to a distant land for their safety and peace? There are many passages in the Book of Mormon that cover both wicked and righteous political leaders, and how the people they reigned over either suffered or prospered. There are also many stories of war, and the righteous and wicked that fought in them. Why did the ancient prophets include these stories in their writings and teachings, if they did not believe them to express important doctrine?
I sought out various stories from the Book of Mormon to put this dilemma to the test. The first was the well known and loved story of Captain Moroni and the Title Of Liberty. I was pleased to find what I considered an extensive and thorough summary of Alma 46 at the top of the page.
The next story I looked at was the defeat of the Gadianton Robbers by the Nephites and Lamanites, and the Nephites’ praise to the Lord for their victory. This story is only briefly mentioned in the introduction (or summary) to 3 Nephi 7:15-22, which covers Nephi’s response to the wickedness of the Nephites years later.
There were other events and stories from the Book or Mormon that I sought to compare with this book. Suffice it to say, I found some, but not others. I understand the editor’s need to select certain passages, and not attempt to cover the entire book of scripture in this way.
Despite my initial concerns concerning the omitted passages, I found this book to be an excellent resource for families and teachers to use in personal study, family home evenings,and youth lessons.
The book is well organized and the follow-up questions are thought-provoking and will help the reader or listener to better understand gospel principles and how to apply them in their lives. The original illustrations are nicely done, and will be of special interest to children in bringing the scriptures to life.
Can you imagine having meaningful five minute scripture study in your home, where you can keep the interest and attention of all ages, from toddlers to teenagers? This is what this book will do for you!
I am going to wrap this book up for Christmas for our son and his wife. I think they will be delighted at this new and creative approach to the real struggle of daily family scripture study.
This would also be an excellent resource for auxiliary leaders and teachers in the church.